Has the change come?

PUTNEY — I am feeling uncomfortable with the statement that I made in my comments on the stories Joyce Marcel collected about the slaying of Michael Martin by Richard Gagnon at the Brattleboro Coop two years ago [“I miss my arrogant friend,” Letters, July 24].

I said I also felt (as someone in the article had said) that Richard had “taken one for the team.” Um. Richard didn't take it. He gave it. And “it” was murder. One has to go back to the true facts.

Also, Richard clearly did not feel like part of any “team.” That perhaps is one of the many difficulties we, most of us, had to live through. He felt isolated out of a place he felt he had carved for himself.

My feeling in making that statement was to say that I believe there were others, spoken of in the articles and whom I heard from and about on the street, who felt threatened and insulted by Mr. Martin's attitudes and manner in dealing with them on the job. It seemed as though a small, top-down decision had been made to tighten the culture of the company and that Mr. Martin was the guy to do it.

Now, it seems that the change has come. The new, fancy building is in place, and there is very much oversight on the way employees are to behave. I must say that involving employees in company “management” through Zingerman's-style process sounds like a good idea. Zingerman's has been a renowned success story in gourmet, customer-service marketing for quite a while now. That couldn't hurt.

Various people in the community have remarked on how they no longer feel at home at the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Partly this may have to do with the unusual configuration and, for a time, the lighting of the space. Partly, this might also have come from a sense of isolation and uncertainty since that very upsetting happening.

I want to say that I am positively impressed with the letters that co-op General Manager Alex Gyori writes at the beginning of each co-op newsletter. I was also favorably impressed with the statement in the paid advertisement in the latest issue of The Commons.

On paper, the new co-op is trying to fit in as a good neighbor and a positive member of the community. At the co-op, it feels a bit more like a fancy Whole Foods–type operation than it once did.

It would be nice to get the streamlining of a dedicated workforce along with a sense of family support, like the old co-op showed for its dedicated employees.

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