As foreshadowed in an earlier article published here, the time has come for me to step down as Business Manager for the Cooperative. As I have also said on previous occasions, I am as unsuited to be a bookkeeper as I am to be a housekeeper, and the books need to be done. When they are, it will be seen that I have conducted all activities honestly and openly and at all times, in my opinion, in the best interests of the Coop and the Membership, and I leave the Coop with its full potential intact, to grow at whatever rate and in whatever fashion the majority sees fit, with several significant assets in place that will become profit centers over time, should the Coop choose to take advantage of them.
The redesigned log inoculation system; spawn tables, caulking gun compatible spawn recipe, wax disk and heat gun sealing method, etc. represents a significant advance over older methods, encompasses several potential independently marketable product lines and will significantly reduce labor costs and physical stress for bulk log inoculation, meaning higher returns and fewer injuries over time. The Myco-balm brand and product line also represent a significant near and long-term income stream for the Coop and I will continue to provide technical assistance to those members wishing to pursue this potential. In addition, the several graphic properties including the physical brand design, logos and labels are items that, again, if properly applied in the marketplace, represent substantial contributions to the enduring success of the Coop, along with the website and the research, writing and outreach embodied there.
It is unfortunate that we were unable to secure all of our first batch of logs before summer shut down the woods (and not for lack of trying), but should the new Business Manger choose, the door is open to secure long term supplies for this fall and beyond through the Usal Forest restoration project, as well as whatever other sources are developed, and to complete our first round of log inoculation when forest conditions permit new harvesting. I will continue as a contributing and investing Member, and will use the facilities soon to be at my disposal to support ongoing Coop inoculation efforts within the operational and fiscal constraints of a new private venture that I have entered into with an outside investor.
About a month ago I was contacted by a person, originally from the Bay Area and now resident in New York who expressed strong interest in working together to build up an industrial scale business based primarily on mycelial structural materials. Assessing this person’s character, capacities and intent has occupied 95% of my time and attention in the interim because, to my mind at least, we will achieve the goals expressed repeatedly in many of the other articles here, much more quickly and effectively the more resources; financial, technical and personal that we bring to bear.
In discussing this with my supervising Board Member and others it has become abundantly clear that, at this time the Coop per se is unprepared, unwilling even, at several levels, to take full advantage of what I see as the golden opportunity presented by this individual. From where I sit, it would be an enormous waste of an unexpected and really significant potential to simply say to him “Thanks for your interest, but sorry, no New York money wanted, we want to stay small”. I have therefore agreed with this gentleman to form a private company here, founded on exactly the same principles of sustainability and stewardship as are expressed throughout my previous writing.
Together, we will establish an initially modest R&D facility here in Willits to verify processes and create samples of a range of specific products in the ‘polystyrene replacement’ sphere. Our long term goal is to build up a significant industrial capacity in this domain, based on local physical resources, including labor, raw materials and clean, responsible renewable energy. Our intention is not to compete with the Coop, but to build out over the next few years a model enterprise that will serve as a test-bed and a real world demonstration and development platform for an industrial scale structural mycology business of regional, national and perhaps even global significance. In working towards that goal I hope to be able to provide products and services such as bulk spawn, on a reasonable cost-plus basis, that benefit the Coop and enhance its capacities and I will continue to participate in the Coop within the limits imposed by my new workload.
Having paid last month’s utilities and this month’s office rent out of my own pocket, I have informed the landlord here that I will be vacating the office at the end of July to establish the R&D shop. I will make all inventory, passwords and other relevant information and documents available to the Board and am very pleased to hand over responsibilities to whomever is designated by the Membership to fill my current role. I leave to pursue exactly the same goals as I have been pursuing all along, confident that this new opportunity will be beneficial not just to me personally and the out of state investor(s), but over time, to the Membership, the Coop, the Community and to the region, or I would not be doing it at all. As the Coop becomes more effectively organized, perhaps more willing to entertain the idea of outside capital, and the business horizons of the Members and the Board broaden naturally over time I hope that some of the contacts I build through this new enterprise will come to see the Coop and other Member businesses too as potential partners.
As I look forward to working together with this investor, and with the Coop and Members to make a real difference for the better here, in real time, I also look forward to regular meals, sleeping in a bed, frequent showers, and most fundamentally, the opportunity, resources and decision making scope necessary to make these big ideas real. And, I look back at the last year of extremely hard and dedicated work with a completely clear conscience, great satisfaction at having begun something meaningful and in full confidence that the Coop will continue to grow and mature at its own pace, unruffled by the immediate opportunity discussed above.
So, farewell but not goodbye, this resignation is effective immediately.