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  1. TopTop #91
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Let me help you, Bret!

    May 21, 2009
    Santa Rosa Board of Directors
    Dear Santa Rosa Board of Directors

    It is unfortunate that I have to write this letter, but I believe it is necessary for the Board as well as the association to know this. On Wednesday, May 20, 2009 about 8:00 a.m., I was approached by the market manager, Paula Downing, in a very unprofessional and inappropriate manner.

    My family has farmed...for almost 25 years. We have been member of the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market for 20 years. We sold our produce at over 20 different farmers' markets throughout the years, and never have we encountered such hostility.

    As I was setting up, Paula asked me if I wanted to talk about what was going on with me. I had no idea what she was referring to. I answered, "no." Paula then told me that she had been "sensing" some negative feelings from me and that she wanted me to tell her what my problem was. Not knowing what she was alluding to, I said I had nothing to say to her.

    Paula proceeded to tell me that she had lots of problems and that she did not need any more. She stated that if she wanted to, she could "kick me out of Sebastopol Farmers' Market" and that she never had to let me in. She repeated that if I was going to cause more problems, she would just kick me out.

    I asked her if she was threatening me. She answered, "yes."

    Believing that I had in some way misunderstood her, I asked her again, "are you threatening me?" Again, she said "yes" and repeated that she never had to let me into the Sebastopol Market, and could have me "out" if she wanted.

    I was shocked and appalled that at 8:00 a.m.- the beginning of a business day at the market- at my place of work, Paula was threatening me to have me kicked out of another market because she was "sensing" some negative feelings from me.

    I asked her again if she was threatening me. Again she answered yes. I let Paula know that she had misinterpreted my "feelings" because I had no idea what she was referring to, as I had neither said nor done anything to her. Paula replied, "okay" and left my table.

    I was very upset that a manager would threaten me at my place of work. I left my booth to make a phone call and walked to the restroom. As I exited the restroom I found myself face to face with Paula, who again told me, "we need to talk." I told her repeatedly that I was on the phone and did not wish to speak to her.

    She then confronted me in the parking lot and said she was sorry if she misunderstood my feelings but we needed to talk. I told her I did not wish to speak to her and I asked her to please leave me alone. Paula said we needed to talk and asked me if I "did not believe in forgiveness."

    I told Paula again to please leave me alone, and that I did not want to speak to her. I informed her that I believed she had acted in a very inappropriate and unprofessional way and that she had upset me and I did not want to speak to her until I had collected my thoughts. She finally left, but not before telling me that she would later call me so that we could talk.

    My immediate thought was to just let this incident pass, however, after consulting with family (we're a family business), I realized that the market manager's behavior was without a doubt uncalled for, inappropriate, and a clear threat to our small business.

    Though the actual threat to kick us out of the Sebastopol Market has nothing to do with the Santa Rosa Association, (I will address the matter with the Sebastopol Farmers' Market Board of Directors); the threat was made at the Santa Rosa Farmers' Market, by its manager, during business hours.

    I am not willing to accept Paula's behavior and the threat she made for no just cause.

    As a member of the association, and as a vendor, I expect the board of directors to respond promptly. The market manager is a representative of the association. i would like a guarantee that this type of unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated, nor repeated. More importantly, I would like some assurance that Paula will not carry out her threat.

    Regards,

    (I leave this anonymous to protect the innocent, however, this letter IS a matter of public record... I can offer more if you like. It only gets worse.)

    Quote bret martin wrote: View Post




    ok heres two key facts that are a matter of undisputed record.
    i have a letter drafted and signed by paula that was distributed to her vendors where among other things she calls her foe dan smith newt gingrich and calls dans assistant a henchman. the tone of this later scared all of us here at the barlow.

    the lawsuit that paulas board paid out on recently as per the press democrat has in it a defacto mutual restraining order or stay away clause.
    if paula or her management team operate at the barlow then on that day each week paulas legal foes will not be allowed to shop or eat or step on to the premises.

    this is a deal killer by itself and that means paulas foes cant manage anything here either..they did like a murder suicide with each other when it comes to participating here at the barlow in any future managerial capacity..

    everything else i have is amazingly damning too but its just hearsay once i tell you so i will stand by whats indisputable only
    bret
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  2. TopTop #92
    applefan's Avatar
    applefan
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    I don't know who lizzysweet is or what her agenda is, but this "ooh snap" is yet another nasty tidbit that we could do without.


    Quote lizzysweet wrote: View Post
    Ooooh SNAP!
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  3. TopTop #93
    applefan's Avatar
    applefan
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Here is a piece of INFORMATION about how the farmers market works, at least under Paula Downing. Yes there is a wait list, but the job of "curating" the market involves trying to keep a balance of farmers who are selling the same and different products. If someone's name comes up and that farmer is selling the same thing that a number of other farmers are selling and therefore the VERY small profit margin of the farmers who are already there is going to be made even slimmer, Paula will move down the list to someone else who is selling something different.
    some of us have been advocating for a community forum about this issue so that the public will know the truth of how the market works and what is the job of the market manager before they take strong positions on either side.

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    i really do want the lowdown on paula's misdeeds, though not enough to meet privately. i enjoy public bb discussions, transparent process, consensus and democracy. what are you willing to write to everybody? it reads from your next post that you are now in a legal, confidential based, confrontational process with the existing sebastopol farmers market board :.(

    i also think it would be an inauspicious start for the barlow to set up a competing market time. try something different. perhaps a few permanent outdoor stalls rented at low cost on a rotating basis with changing road signage. build excitement about the destination rather than dividing community.
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  5. TopTop #94
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote applefan wrote: View Post
    This thread is really unbearably mean spirited. I personally think that Lizzysweet and Cinda are not following the guidelines of waccobb by continuing like this . Barry?.
    you've got to be kidding. Some here may dispute my judgement over what's mean-spirited, but come on - read their posts for what they say. How on earth can they make their criticism in any more straight-forward a way without diluting what they are trying to get across?? Sometimes the principle of "don't say anything if you can't say something nice" can't be applied.
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  7. TopTop #95
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote caverly wrote: View Post
    ... remind[s] me of the one time some one honked at me in Sebastopol and i wondered ," Why do you
    need to do that ? Don't you understand that all is being taken care of ? "
    maybe there was a reason.. how aware were you of your surroundings? Some people don't live in a world where all is being taken care of, especially if you have a prosaic rather than cosmic definition of "all".

    sorry, this -is- bordering into mean-spirited!!
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  9. TopTop #96
    jesswolfe's Avatar
    jesswolfe
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Bret,

    I am sad that you ended up in the middle of this mess. I started to read the thread because I was interested in the possibility of actually going to a Farmer's Market. The one in Seb is too crowded for me so I have been watching to see if maybe the Barlow would be a more calm, more open place for me to go.

    Watching the stuff hit the fan has been interesting and sad though. I don't know Paula. I have no horse in this race. I do know however how crazy making it is to get hit by someone like this who presents as "such a nice person" that when you tell your story people think you are the one who is nuts and has a vendetta because how on earth could that possibly be true? Vilifying the people with negative experiences doesn't help anyone. And vilifying people for not giving details when there are legal issues involved is not helpful either. I can see you are trying to remain in integrity in this situation and so far you are holding your own.

    As for your original issue, I don't have a preference on a day, but obviously a weekend day and/or a weekday afternoon/evening would be good for many. I look forward to seeing your site develop.

    Jessica

    Quote bret martin wrote: View Post

    ok heres two key facts that are a matter of undisputed record.
    i have a letter drafted and signed by paula that was distributed to her vendors where among other things she calls her foe dan smith newt gingrich and calls dans assistant a henchman. the tone of this later scared all of us here at the barlow.

    the lawsuit that paulas board paid out on recently as per the press democrat has in it a defacto mutual restraining order or stay away clause.
    if paula or her management team operate at the barlow then on that day each week paulas legal foes will not be allowed to shop or eat or step on to the premises.

    this is a deal killer by itself and that means paulas foes cant manage anything here either..they did like a murder suicide with each other when it comes to participating here at the barlow in any future managerial capacity..

    everything else i have is amazingly damning too but its just hearsay once i tell you so i will stand by whats indisputable only
    bret
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  11. TopTop #97
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote theindependenteye wrote: View Post
    ...But anyone selling products in this society, whether supplier, distributor, or retailer, had damn well better believe, or at least give the impression of believing, that the marketplace is for and about the customer.

    Re. farmers: I think we have a lot in common.
    thanks, Conrad - but it's also true that the community benefits from both your work and that of the farmers, so we do have a bit of an obligation to support what we'd like to see continue.
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  13. TopTop #98
    bret martin
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow



    Quote jesswolfe wrote: View Post
    Bret,

    I am sad that you ended up in the middle of this mess. I started to read the thread because I was interested in the possibility of actually going to a Farmer's Market. The one in Seb is too crowded for me so I have been watching to see if maybe the Barlow would be a more calm, more open place for me to go.

    Watching the stuff hit the fan has been interesting and sad though. I don't know Paula. I have no horse in this race. I do know however how crazy making it is to get hit by someone like this who presents as "such a nice person" that when you tell your story people think you are the one who is nuts and has a vendetta because how on earth could that possibly be true? Vilifying the people with negative experiences doesn't help anyone. And vilifying people for not giving details when there are legal issues involved is not helpful either. I can see you are trying to remain in integrity in this situation and so far you are holding your own.

    As for your original issue, I don't have a preference on a day, but obviously a weekend day and/or a weekday afternoon/evening would be good for many. I look forward to seeing your site develop.

    Jessica
    jessica
    you are the first person here to choke me up.
    its as if you peeked into my heart
    you are a thanksgiving blessing
    thank you
    bret
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  15. TopTop #99

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote jesswolfe wrote: View Post
    Bret,

    The one in Seb is too crowded for me
    Jessica
    Jessica,

    As farmers markets have grown in popularity, they have indeed become more crowded. One way to get around this is to come as early as possible. Although the Sebastopol market officially opens at 10 a.m., farmers are allowed to begin selling once they are set up. They don't have to wait for a bell, as is the policy at some markets. I've found that I can get almost everything I need by 9:30 to 9:45, without crowds.

    This is true of most markets--the earlier you arrive, the less crowded a market will be--and the same applies to the end of a market. They are generally not crowded during the last 30 minutes or so, though you risk missing out on a lot of things.
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  17. TopTop #100

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote lizzysweet wrote: View Post
    You are quite right, Caverly.... (for once we agree! Look at that!) Your point is made evident by the farmer's market split that happened in the 90's AND the recent split caused by Paula when she decided to open up a new market at a new location, at the same time as the Vet's market (the one that had already been in existence for 40 years)....and on top of it, gave vendors an ultimatum of where they could and could not sell!!!!.... A decision that was recently reviewed and upheld.
    I'd like to contribute a bit of accuracy here. Paula Downing did not decide to open a new market at a new location. In February of 2012, the county rented the space out from under the existing farmers market to a new entity while they were in rent negotiations with the existing market. The county offered it to the new entity at a price lower than they were asked the existing market to pay. Had they asked the full amount, it would have triggered a RFP (request for proposal), which is triggered at $50,000.

    The original market, founded in 1967, had two options: Disband or find a new location. The new location was chosen by a committee appointed by the board of directors.

    Further, the rule that vendors could not sell at simultaneous markets within something like a 10-mile radius was adopted by the members of the market, not by Paula Downing.

    All of this is a matter of public record.

    As far as mutual restraining orders go, there is a great deal of misinformation circulating. There is no restraining order. Two individuals agreed not to attend the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market as customers for a period of five years. This was requested by the market board because vendors and customers had been harassed by these individuals. The individuals then requested that the board members of the original market make the same agreement, that they would not attend the new market as customers for a period of five years. They agreed. This is now in effect. Any vendor, to my knowledge, is free to attend either market, upon acceptance of their application by that market.

    The lawsuit was settled with a finding of no wrong doing by anyone connected to the Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market or the Sebastopol farmers market or the two individuals who initiated the law suit.

    Paula Downing announced her intention to resign as manager of the Santa Rosa Market in either late 2011 or early 2012. She stayed to help facilitate the move and train the new manager, Jaime Smedes, who is now at the helm, working at the direction of the board.
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  19. TopTop #101

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    To get to the true point of this thread, I'd like to suggest an afternoon/evening market. I'd say Friday but that would mean competing for both vendors and customers with the popular Occidental market from June through October.

    So what about Thursday? Thursdays in the town plaza used to be very popular, so there is a tradition of getting people out on a Thursday evening.

    I think the Barlow needs to answer two questions: What best serves the community and how can the Barlow best be a part of the market. An evening market serves people heading home from work, many of whom can't make it to morning/weekend markets.

    If there are businesses that will be open in the evening, then an evening market makes even more sense. Create somewhere for people to hang out, shop, connect, enjoy a nibble or sip and then walk back to town, to go out to dinner or home to cook.

    I think 4:30 to 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening would be great for this town.
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  21. TopTop #102
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    You know what Applefan, I'm going to agree with you, in that the "Ooooh Snap" was perhaps a bit strong. I borrowed a popular current colloquialism to express what I should have just said in other words, like: "Right on! Finally, a real FACT, not an opinion, not "information," but a traceable cold hard documented fact! It takes courage, not only to be an opposing voice in the crowd, but to present supporting hard facts in a sea of opinions who don't want to do their own research or look at what is right in front of them.

    And for a UC Berkeley/USC graduate, if you don't know what my agenda is, I can't help you. I have made it too explicitly clear: Create a market that is free of the current market manager. The two should be mutually exclusive! (is it still unclear?!)

    Quote applefan wrote: View Post
    I don't know who lizzysweet is or what her agenda is, but this "ooh snap" is yet another nasty tidbit that we could do without.
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  22. TopTop #103
    applefan's Avatar
    applefan
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    now I am feeling really harassed and you are underlining your hostility with this one. how the hell do you know where I went to school and how dare you use it against me! Barry, I would appreciate some help here. I have been, in my opinion, a fair minded contributor here.


    Quote lizzysweet wrote: View Post
    You know what Applefan, I'm going to agree with you, in that the "Ooooh Snap" was perhaps a bit strong. I borrowed a popular current colloquialism to express what I should have just said in other words, like: "Right on! Finally, a real FACT, not an opinion, not "information," but a traceable cold hard documented fact! It takes courage, not only to be an opposing voice in the crowd, but to present supporting hard facts in a sea of opinions who don't want to do their own research or look at what is right in front of them.

    And for a UC Berkeley/USC graduate, if you don't know what my agenda is, I can't help you. I have made it too explicitly clear: Create a market that is free of the current market manager. The two should be mutually exclusive! (is it still unclear?!)
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  23. TopTop #104
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Gpbp
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  24. TopTop #105
    jesswolfe's Avatar
    jesswolfe
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Gaussian Process Belief Propagation?

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    Gpbp
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  26. TopTop #106
    Orm Embar's Avatar
    Orm Embar
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    One of the things I have observed (and personally experienced) is that on-line forums provide a tricky and challenging form of communication.

    Reading words on a screen does not give participants the benefit of body language, facial features or tone of voice. I have often mis-interpreted someone's tone and had my intentions completely mis-interpreted while participating in such forums. I have also given and received offense because of typing too quickly and neglecting to read my own posts "through the eyes of a stranger before posting." I now take extra care when writing. I even use words that I normally don't use while speaking because I find that one simple word choice can make the difference between feeling heard and feeling attacked. (I'm not even sure if that last sentence conveys what I intend to convey, but I've edited it 3 times and am not sure how else to write it. . . .see, this form of communication is tricky)

    While I have yet to read a post in this thread that I feel is truly a "troll" in attack mode (sorry I'm using "forum-speak"), I do see that certain styles of writing are coming across as inflammatory. It does not appear that this is intentionally so, just a style of expression. My concern is that we are starting to veer away from the original intent of the thread. Maybe it's time to split threads so we can keep the original discussion moving forward?

    I invite all of us take a moment to step back and be extra careful of writing comments while experiencing heated emotions. Each and every one of us has something valuable to share. It would be nice to have that sharing be clear, understood, and appreciated. I will start with the assumption that each person on this thread is an amazing person with incredible personal integrity.

    A Very Happy Thanksgiving to You All!
    -Larkin
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  27. TopTop #107
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Thank you so much for this, Larkin!!!

    I can actually take your words whole-heartedly into real consideration. While I still maintain that my posts are not remotely hostile or malicious (as some have been able to pick up on and are now finally starting to defend- thank you!!!), I am definitely hearing the objections to my style. And as you so eloquently point out, style is very different than tone, although the two are often mistakenly used synonymously. Unfortunately, "style/tone" seems to be what's taking precedence over substance here, by those feeling offended by my "negative vitriol of hostile venom," a.k.a opposing view... and that is the most frustrating thing for me! Even the well-educated amongst us, those who, say, hold a masters degree in social work, struggle with the ability to separate emotion from reason, misidentify a clinical demonstration of well-executed research of facts as personal harassment. The Jeffersonian Art of Witticism (the classic Battle of Wits!) seems to be lost! People like yourself and Podfish reassure me that I am not alone in this metaphysically driven Wacco community we call Sebastopol.

    The challenge is further compounded by a moderator who chimes in with opinionated declarations- "The one very-wrong answer is to have another market at The Barlow on Sundays." How can one trust that their POV will be respectfully and equally defended as legitimate, particular when you are a rare voice (and being a rare voice does NOT inherently mean I'm alone!!) in a choir of devotees which clearly includes the moderator himself. To be an effective moderator, adjudicator, mediator... one must take the selfless oath of removing oneself from the emotional opinionated fray- create and adhere to distance in order to maintain bilateral, or even multilateral, perspective.

    (Barry, I respect that you and MAJ, a.k.a. "oliviathunderkitty," are both proponents of Ms. Downing, but PLEASE, both of you, just recognize and admit that it impedes your ability to be an effective moderator in this very small community! I'm not saying your a bad moderator, I'm just saying that your allegiance is transparent and you can't help but be affected by it- after all your only human! But it does tip the scale of neutrality!)

    Look, it's because I can be so clinical about this that I'm only amused by my opponents reactions. It's because I'm aware that substance supersedes style, that I take no genuine offense. It's because (Michelle) hearsay does not beget fact (THAT one you should KNOW), that I will not surrender my voice!

    Again, thank you Larkin.... and please, bring more of you and your kin to the discussion!

    (While I feel the impulse to exclaim "Oh Snap!".... I shall refrain )

    Happy Thanksgiving!



    Quote Orm Embar wrote: View Post
    One of the things I have observed (and personally experienced) is that on-line forums provide a tricky and challenging form of communication.

    Reading words on a screen does not give participants the benefit of body language, facial features or tone of voice. I have often mis-interpreted someone's tone and had my intentions completely mis-interpreted while participating in such forums. I have also given and received offense because of typing too quickly and neglecting to read my own posts "through the eyes of a stranger before posting." I now take extra care when writing. I even use words that I normally don't use while speaking because I find that one simple word choice can make the difference between feeling heard and feeling attacked. (I'm not even sure if that last sentence conveys what I intend to convey, but I've edited it 3 times and am not sure how else to write it. . . .see, this form of communication is tricky)

    While I have yet to read a post in this thread that I feel is truly a "troll" in attack mode (sorry I'm using "forum-speak"), I do see that certain styles of writing are coming across as inflammatory. It does not appear that this is intentionally so, just a style of expression. My concern is that we are starting to veer away from the original intent of the thread. Maybe it's time to split threads so we can keep the original discussion moving forward?

    I invite all of us take a moment to step back and be extra careful of writing comments while experiencing heated emotions. Each and every one of us has something valuable to share. It would be nice to have that sharing be clear, understood, and appreciated. I will start with the assumption that each person on this thread is an amazing person with incredible personal integrity.

    A Very Happy Thanksgiving to You All!
    -Larkin
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  28. TopTop #108
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote jesswolfe wrote: View Post
    Gaussian Process Belief Propagation?
    Precisely!

    I was just trying to reserve a post in the Thanksgiving day digest before the digest cutoff of 6pm and then edit in some more of my opinionated opinions before the digest got sent out. "Missed it by that much!"

    More tomorrow. Be nice to each other!
    Last edited by Barry; 11-23-2012 at 04:02 PM.
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  29. TopTop #109
    bret martin
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    bret martin here from the barlow. i thought i could handle this but sadness has shut me down. i refuse to put anyone down any longer. today at thanksgiving i was overwhelmed with remorse over my rationalized justified negativity towards another fellow earthling. i refuse to try to justify my actions by putting down another human. im done here and if people have questions may they be answered by our successes only. blessings to all of you ..especially paula. i will announce our plans at that barlow without excuses or hurtful words no matter how my reality sees the situation. please trust that the barlow will do what is right for all the right reasons. if you have a compelling story of loss or pain around the market give it to the universe and lets all love each other
    happy thanks giving
    bret
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  31. TopTop #110
    rossmen
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    i still don't get it. this letter reflects paula having more communication willingness than the writer! i bet the board ignored it. and the difference between brets interpretation of the lawsuit settlement and a far clearer description is astounding! running a farmers market seems to be far harder than i imagined. i don't know paula though i have met sprout crusher dan. are you his minion?

    Quote lizzysweet wrote: View Post
    Let me help you, Bret!

    May 21, 2009
    Santa Rosa Board of Directors
    Dear Santa Rosa Board of Directors

    It is unfortunate that I have to write this letter, but I believe it is necessary for the Board as well as the association to know this. On Wednesday, May 20, 2009 about 8:00 a.m., I was approached by the market manager, Paula Downing, in a very unprofessional and inappropriate manner.

    My family has farmed...for almost 25 years. We have been member of the Santa Rosa Farmer's Market for 20 years. We sold our produce at over 20 different farmers' markets throughout the years, and never have we encountered such hostility.

    As I was setting up, Paula asked me if I wanted to talk about what was going on with me. I had no idea what she was referring to. I answered, "no." Paula then told me that she had been "sensing" some negative feelings from me and that she wanted me to tell her what my problem was. Not knowing what she was alluding to, I said I had nothing to say to her.

    Paula proceeded to tell me that she had lots of problems and that she did not need any more. She stated that if she wanted to, she could "kick me out of Sebastopol Farmers' Market" and that she never had to let me in. She repeated that if I was going to cause more problems, she would just kick me out.

    I asked her if she was threatening me. She answered, "yes."

    Believing that I had in some way misunderstood her, I asked her again, "are you threatening me?" Again, she said "yes" and repeated that she never had to let me into the Sebastopol Market, and could have me "out" if she wanted.

    I was shocked and appalled that at 8:00 a.m.- the beginning of a business day at the market- at my place of work, Paula was threatening me to have me kicked out of another market because she was "sensing" some negative feelings from me.

    I asked her again if she was threatening me. Again she answered yes. I let Paula know that she had misinterpreted my "feelings" because I had no idea what she was referring to, as I had neither said nor done anything to her. Paula replied, "okay" and left my table.

    I was very upset that a manager would threaten me at my place of work. I left my booth to make a phone call and walked to the restroom. As I exited the restroom I found myself face to face with Paula, who again told me, "we need to talk." I told her repeatedly that I was on the phone and did not wish to speak to her.

    She then confronted me in the parking lot and said she was sorry if she misunderstood my feelings but we needed to talk. I told her I did not wish to speak to her and I asked her to please leave me alone. Paula said we needed to talk and asked me if I "did not believe in forgiveness."

    I told Paula again to please leave me alone, and that I did not want to speak to her. I informed her that I believed she had acted in a very inappropriate and unprofessional way and that she had upset me and I did not want to speak to her until I had collected my thoughts. She finally left, but not before telling me that she would later call me so that we could talk.

    My immediate thought was to just let this incident pass, however, after consulting with family (we're a family business), I realized that the market manager's behavior was without a doubt uncalled for, inappropriate, and a clear threat to our small business.

    Though the actual threat to kick us out of the Sebastopol Market has nothing to do with the Santa Rosa Association, (I will address the matter with the Sebastopol Farmers' Market Board of Directors); the threat was made at the Santa Rosa Farmers' Market, by its manager, during business hours.

    I am not willing to accept Paula's behavior and the threat she made for no just cause.

    As a member of the association, and as a vendor, I expect the board of directors to respond promptly. The market manager is a representative of the association. i would like a guarantee that this type of unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated, nor repeated. More importantly, I would like some assurance that Paula will not carry out her threat.

    Regards,

    (I leave this anonymous to protect the innocent, however, this letter IS a matter of public record... I can offer more if you like. It only gets worse.)
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  33. TopTop #111
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Oh Dear God, NO!! I am HARDLY the sprout-crusher's minion!! LOL! Seriously, not even a little bit.

    I don't fault you for not getting it at first glance... so let me help...

    The Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market (SROFM) is a completely separate, unrelated entity from the Sebastopol Farmers Market (SFM). SROCFM has a truly elected BOD, elected by its membership which is comprised of its vendors (which vendors get to become members, when, and how, an who among them actually get to vote, is a whole other ball of yarn!). SFM appears to have the same set up; a BOD comprised of elected vendors/members. Unfortunately, even the SFM BOD themselves don't even realize that they've been duped.

    The actual governing organization of SFM is the Sonoma County Farmers Market Association (SCFMA), founded by Paula after she was hired by the original SFM BOD to be their employee. Paula is the President of this organization.... in essence, she figured out a way to become her boss' boss (and they don't even know it!) What we see as the vendor-driven SFM BOD is in actuality a mere puppet organization, a "committee" really; smoke and mirrors, if you will. The SCFMA's BOD is comprised of three people; Paula, Hilda, Erica- all three Market managers who were initially hired by the farmers who wanted them to manage their market as their employees!!!

    The big problem with this is (as the Sonoma Valley Farmer's Market (SVFM) discovered about 2 years ago), the employer is now powerless against its employee. Example- when SVFM became unhappy with Hilda and went to terminate her employment, Paula and Hilda marched in and terminated the BOD (much to their surprise), because legally they could (Paula is a former paralegal who worked for George Altenberg....who, if you ever get legal threats from her, like the SROCFM did in 2010, he will always be the one representing her).

    The exact same dynamic exists in Sebastopol, however, very few people are aware of it- those who are aware of it are both scared to speak out about it (below you will see why) but also realize the necessity for eternal vigilance because their businesses and livelihoods hang in the balance. So, that is probably the reason why I appear to be a minion of the sprout-crusher- there are very few of us who know the real story- but again, no relation except familiarity with the same information!

    Back to the letter... Paula IS strictly the employee (or rather WAS... she has since "retired") of SROCFM. She has always been thought to be the employee of the SFM; a totally seperate, independent, unrelated entity. There is "0" relationship between the two (like there is "0" relationship between the Oakland Farmers Market and the Healdsburg Farmers Market), except, of course, that Paula was independently hired as an employee by both organizations (like most people right now, working two part-time jobs to make ends meet).

    SO.... for Paula to threaten to kick a vendor out of either market is inappropriate, first off, because she claims that she works under the oversight of a BOD for each market! It's further inappropriate to use her authority at one market as leverage to exert her authority at another- because the two are mutually exclusive!!!!!! BUT SHE DOES IT, she HAS DONE IT, she CONTINUES TO DO IT, and WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT, against anyone she feels "negative feelings about," BECAUSE SHE KNOWS SHE CAN... AND SO DO THE SCARED AND SILENT VENDORS!!!!

    Imagine you are a vendor in both Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. Say you have an issue, a totally legitimate issue, with Paula in Santa Rosa, and you want to bring it to the attention of the BOD? You will never be right, lest you loose your place in Sebastopol! So guess what.... if you want to maintain access to the direct marketplace in this county (Sonoma Farmers Market, Petaluma Farmers Market, Oakmont Farmers Market, Sebastopol Farmers Market- all the markets controlled by SCFMA, of which Paula is the President and the 3 managers are the board), you learn to NEVER have an issue with Paula in Santa Rosa!!

    When the very legitimate SROCFM BOD wanted to legitimately terminate Paula's employment in 2010, the two members of that board who also sold in Sebastopol (one of them being the author of this letter) were suddenly "up for review of their membership" in Sebastopol. They had not committed any infraction in Sebastopol. They had not broken any rules. But suddenly, they were in jeopardy of loosing their access to the marketplace, even though they had been vendors, without incident, FOR YEARS!

    The subject of the letter is not one person's ability to communicate over another's, but rather, the inappropriate stronghold Ms. Downing possesses over every single vendor's ability to have access to the marketplace and conduct business.

    Now imagine Paula overplays her hand when negotiating her rental agreement with the county (and this is a WHOLE OTHER STORY I will not get into, yet- but "oliviathunderkitty" does NOT KNOW THE FACTS!). She looses her lease. She has to find a new place to go. (I'm sorry, the "SROCFM BOD" looses the lease and has to find a new place to go.) You're a vendor who receives a newsletter from your market manager/BOD saying that you have to choose; stay where you are under a new organization, or move to the new location- but YOU CAN NOT DO BOTH! There is a brand new "7-mile radius restriction" to be implemented as part of the move. (And it is precisely 7 miles, "oliviathunderkitty"- distance between the Santa Rosa Veteran's Building and Wells Fargo Center for the Arts: 6.11 mi.!) And now let's say you also enjoy selling in Sebastopol! Which one do you think you're going to choose? Hmmmmm?!

    Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you "Vendors at the Vet's Bldg" a.k.a. "Former Board Members Already Kicked Out of Sebastopol" a.k.a "Never Allowed The Opportunity to Sell In The first place for Lord Knows What Reason" a.k.a."Suffered The Tyranny Too Long And Happy To Be Rid Of It"..... aaaand "Vendor's at Wells Fargo/Sebastopol" a.k.a. "TEAM PAULA," a.k.a. "Not Really Team Paula But Can't Do Anything About It Because Can't Financially Afford To Not Be In Both The Sat. And Sun. Markets" in this corner! Again, the subject of the letter is not "communication," it's "Blackmail and Racketeering."

    Make sense now?

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    i still don't get it. this letter reflects paula having more communication willingness than the writer! i bet the board ignored it. and the difference between brets interpretation of the lawsuit settlement and a far clearer description is astounding! running a farmers market seems to be far harder than i imagined. i don't know paula though i have met sprout crusher dan. are you his minion?
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  34. TopTop #112
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    I'm sorry, but one more thing, Ross... "the difference between brets interpretation of the lawsuit settlement and a far clearer description" is only astounding because (and I implore to just at least consider this) "oliviathunderkitty's" description, while seemingly clearer, has only a fraction of the information. A larger fraction than most (that I can grant), but a fraction none the less. Take into consideration a very common fact that settlements are just that...settlements. There are never any "findings" in a settlement. "Findings of no wrong doing" are only found in judgments. Parties settle, either because they don't want to, or can't afford to, take a case all the way to trial...where judgements are found! Her "clearer description" about rent and RFP's "triggered at $50,000" are SO FALSE it hurts to read. The flailing attempts to set "misinformation" right in post #100 are embarrassing because indeed all of this IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD, John!

    Look, go ahead and stop listening to me, just so long as you stop listening to everything else in this thread- just do your own real honest to god research! (Just like you did when you wanted to get into Bees!) Get your hands on original documents, read them, alone- not inspired by anyone else, read them in chronological order... THEN, AND ONLY THEN​, will you have a "FAR CLEARER DESCRIPTION."

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    i still don't get it. this letter reflects paula having more communication willingness than the writer! i bet the board ignored it. and the difference between brets interpretation of the lawsuit settlement and a far clearer description is astounding! running a farmers market seems to be far harder than i imagined. i don't know paula though i have met sprout crusher dan. are you his minion?
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  35. TopTop #113
    lizzysweet
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Oh Bret.... YOU are a man of VIRTUE! Be grateful that somewhere along the line, someone (probably your family) did right by you by instilling intellect and reason, courage and strength, empathy and heart. I look forward to the day I can meet you in person. I don't believe for a moment that you have been shut down by sadness. I choose to believe that you have simply found resolve because you know the right thing to do. This has been an exhaustive.... and honestly.... although it may not seem like it to anyone else.... a very necessary and productive thread. You knew what needed to be done and you did it, with the courage of your convictions; professionally, personally, socially, and ethically. You have been an inspiration, and I Thank You! Although I truly don't expect anyone here to believe me (the mere thought of it tickles me ;), my agenda has never been to hurt Paula or anyone else. Rather, it's been to be a voice for so many who have not been able to speak... who still can not speak. It's been to implore that ALL of our producer and vendors be done right by; not just some, not just the ones we "like" or who we think "likes us," but everyone! And that is where good policy comes.... that is where YOU come in. I know, from this thread alone, that you are not only a good man, but that you will do the right thing; ergo, the Barlow WILL BE SUCCESSFUL! Sebastopol should be very grateful to have YOU! (I am ;)

    And no, ladies and gentlemen, I am not Bret's minion either! Believe it or not, I am actually my very own person!

    Happy Thanksgiving, Paula! I still do not want you to have anything to do with any markets any more. I do want the Barlow to create a knock-out awesome Sunday market. BUT, I do not, nor have I ever, wished you ill will. Actually, I wish just the opposite- that you take time to enjoy family, especially the grandchildren, pursue your passions at a leisurely pace, and enjoy a full retirement. You have done a great job in so many respects, but now- you can let go. There are so many other important things you have to tend to at this time in your life. Let your legacy be a bright and shining one. Let Bret, the Barlow, the farmers, the community- let us take it from here. It's OK.

    Alright, everyone. Thank you.... it's been grand!
    (and next Thanksgiving... I'll remember to not drink 3 cups of caffeinated coffee with desert!)


    Quote bret martin wrote: View Post
    bret martin here from the barlow. i thought i could handle this but sadness has shut me down. i refuse to put anyone down any longer. today at thanksgiving i was overwhelmed with remorse over my rationalized justified negativity towards another fellow earthling. i refuse to try to justify my actions by putting down another human. im done here and if people have questions may they be answered by our successes only. blessings to all of you ..especially paula. i will announce our plans at that barlow without excuses or hurtful words no matter how my reality sees the situation. please trust that the barlow will do what is right for all the right reasons. if you have a compelling story of loss or pain around the market give it to the universe and lets all love each other
    happy thanks giving
    bret
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  36. Gratitude expressed by 2 members:

  37. TopTop #114
    Cinda
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote oliviathunderkitty wrote: View Post
    I'd like to contribute a bit of accuracy here. Paula Downing did not decide to open a new market at a new location. In February of 2012, the county rented the space out from under the existing farmers market to a new entity while they were in rent negotiations with the existing market. The county offered it to the new entity at a price lower than they were asked the existing market to pay. Had they asked the full amount, it would have triggered a RFP (request for proposal), which is triggered at $50,000.

    The original market, founded in 1967, had two options: Disband or find a new location. The new location was chosen by a committee appointed by the board of directors.

    Further, the rule that vendors could not sell at simultaneous markets within something like a 10-mile radius was adopted by the members of the market, not by Paula Downing.

    All of this is a matter of public record.

    As far as mutual restraining orders go, there is a great deal of misinformation circulating. There is no restraining order. Two individuals agreed not to attend the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market as customers for a period of five years. This was requested by the market board because vendors and customers had been harassed by these individuals. The individuals then requested that the board members of the original market make the same agreement, that they would not attend the new market as customers for a period of five years. They agreed. This is now in effect. Any vendor, to my knowledge, is free to attend either market, upon acceptance of their application by that market.

    The lawsuit was settled with a finding of no wrong doing by anyone connected to the Santa Rosa Original Farmers Market or the Sebastopol farmers market or the two individuals who initiated the law suit.

    Paula Downing announced her intention to resign as manager of the Santa Rosa Market in either late 2011 or early 2012. She stayed to help facilitate the move and train the new manager, Jaime Smedes, who is now at the helm, working at the direction of the board.
    I need to correct a vital piece of misinformation here. I was present during part of the discussion with the County regarding rental of the Veterans Building. First; the County did NOT offer a new entity a lower price than they were asking from the existing market. That truly is a matter of public record. Second; the County did not rent the space out from under the existing market. Another matter of public record. Paula Downing told the County that her market could not, and would not, pay the going rate - period. End of negotiations. It's disingenous to blame the County for seeking the going rate in a challenging economy. It's also inappropriate to blame REFM for paying the going rate, in order to preserve the most desirable location for existing vendors and customers.

    Many SRFM vendors believed the greatest strain in the budget was Paula Downing's generous salary, not the rent.
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  38. TopTop #115
    Cinda
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote Cinda wrote: View Post
    I need to correct a vital piece of misinformation here. I was present during part of the discussion with the County regarding rental of the Veterans Building. First; the County did NOT offer a new entity a lower price than they were asking from the existing market. That truly is a matter of public record. Second; the County did not rent the space out from under the existing market. Another matter of public record. Paula Downing told the County that her market could not, and would not, pay the going rate - period. End of negotiations. It's disingenous to blame the County for seeking the going rate in a challenging economy. It's also inappropriate to blame REFM for paying the going rate, in order to preserve the most desirable location for existing vendors and customers.

    Many SRFM vendors believed the greatest strain in the budget was Paula Downing's generous salary, not the rent.
    I need address one additional point. Olivia's statement that "the lawsuit was settled with a finding of no wrong doing" speaks volumes. There was NO FINDING whatsoever, as this lawsuit was settled before going to court. If the premise is flawed, the conclusion is flawed - therefore, we cannot conclude that there was no wrong-doing. What we do know, is that the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Markets at THE WELLS FARGO center, paid a total of $30,000 to settle this lawsuit before it went to court. The lawyers in my family tell me that's a big flag. Suits without merit are often settled for a much smaller percentage. A $30,000 settlement implies a serious desire to avoid a legitimate finding/adjudication.

    I need to make it clear that I am not one of the principals in this suit, nor was I connected with it in any way. I've just verified the facts for myself all along the way.
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  40. TopTop #116

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    I'm sorry but this is not accurate. If the county had rented the space to another entity for the price they were asking the existing market to pay--somewhere between $53,000 and $56,000- they would have been legally required to open it up for bids, as anything over $50,000 triggers as RFP (request for proposals.) process. To settle this and other issues being questioned here, it would be helpful for someone to either get the documents from the county or speak with those board members who were involved in the on-going negotiations.

    One thing is correct: The county did not OFFER the new entity the space. The new entity requested it and their request was granted while the county was still involved with negotiations with the existing market. And the existing market never told the county they would not pay the full amount--they had requested a decrease in that amount, had submitted paper work and were waiting for further negotiations and a ruling.

    Quote Cinda wrote: View Post
    I need to correct a vital piece of misinformation here. I was present during part of the discussion with the County regarding rental of the Veterans Building. First; the County did NOT offer a new entity a lower price than they were asking from the existing market. That truly is a matter of public record. Second; the County did not rent the space out from under the existing market. Another matter of public record. Paula Downing told the County that her market could not, and would not, pay the going rate - period. End of negotiations. It's disingenous to blame the County for seeking the going rate in a challenging economy. It's also inappropriate to blame REFM for paying the going rate, in order to preserve the most desirable location for existing vendors and customers.

    Many SRFM vendors believed the greatest strain in the budget was Paula Downing's generous salary, not the rent.
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  42. TopTop #117
    Adrianna
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    I haven't read all postings, but felt the need to weigh in to support Bret. No doubt he & Barney have received numerous confidential emails (and hard evidence) from former SRFM vendors who have been threatened such as myself. As an ethical person, he's in the untenable position of knowing truths about which he can't speak.

    I would like to make my documents public to break this pattern, but threats can be very effective when you need to feed your family. I've also seen that minds have been made up; facts be damned. Anyhow, living well is the best revenge. Happy holidays to all.
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  44. TopTop #118
    Cinda
    Guest

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    Quote oliviathunderkitty wrote: View Post
    I'm sorry but this is not accurate. If the county had rented the space to another entity for the price they were asking the existing market to pay--somewhere between $53,000 and $56,000- they would have been legally required to open it up for bids, as anything over $50,000 triggers as RFP (request for proposals.) process. To settle this and other issues being questioned here, it would be helpful for someone to either get the documents from the county or speak with those board members who were involved in the on-going negotiations.

    One thing is correct: The county did not OFFER the new entity the space. The new entity requested it and their request was granted while the county was still involved with negotiations with the existing market. And the existing market never told the county they would not pay the full amount--they had requested a decrease in that amount, had submitted paper work and were waiting for further negotiations and a ruling.
    Sorry Kitty, I know the facts. Speaking to the SRFM Board members is how to get the spin - not the facts... unless you want to speak with the ones who resigned in protest. I've seen the letter from the County requesting AUDITED financials from the SRFM. The County was doing their due diligence - Paula was claiming poverty and they were trying to verify her claim. The SRFM couldn't substantiate her claim, so they tossed some numbers at the County, rather than AUDITED financials. You can't flim-flam the County, or their attorney's. I would be happy to facilitate publishing the request from the County - and the full response from the SRFM. Are you really up for full public disclosure?
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  45. TopTop #119
    LloydR
     

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    AppleFan,
    You have been around the Sebastopol Community for quite some time and done some wonderful things, including saving the Gravenstein Apple and work with Slow Foods. These things have given you publicity that become public record. Just over a year ago the North Bay Business Journal on August 22, 2011 (http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.c...for-1-million/) did a lovely write up on you when you were hired by Palm Drive Hospital to develop and direct a case management program to ensure systematic follow-up for patients with chronic illnesses and other long-term needs. In this article they cited your noteworthy credentials like your undergraduate degree from UC Berkley and Masters in Social Work from Univeristy of Sothern California.

    I honestly can't see how stating where you went to school is harassment. Those are both very repitable schools and most, including myself, look at them as significant accomplishments!

    Quote applefan wrote: View Post
    now I am feeling really harassed and you are underlining your hostility with this one. how the hell do you know where I went to school and how dare you use it against me! Barry, I would appreciate some help here. I have been, in my opinion, a fair minded contributor here.
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  47. TopTop #120
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Farmer's Market at The Barlow

    There's lots of distinct but related topics going on in this thread. I may eventually split it, but not just yet.

    I want to comment on two points:

    - Moderation
    - The Farmers Market at the Barlow.

    Regarding moderation, there was some harsh talk here before I posted my comments on Wednesday (#80) that I decided to let go, and I was hoping the discussion would proceed respectfully.

    Lizzysweet, then continued to post in a tone/style that I (and many of you) find too aggressive (#86), regardless of her point of view:

    "like the grownups who chose to stay at the Vet's."
    "
    FREE THE CAPTIVES FROM WELLS FARGO!!!!"

    I wrote to her privately "Elizabeth, you are pushing the limits of decorum with your past and current posts. Please tone it down a bit."

    She has continued to post in a similar vein, including public protests of my private note to her and insinuating posts directed at applefan :
    "And for a UC Berkeley/USC graduate, if you don't know what my agenda is, I can't help you."
    "
    Even the well-educated amongst us, those who, say, hold a masters degree in social work, struggle with the ability to separate emotion from reason, misidentify a clinical demonstration of well-executed research of facts as personal harassment."

    People are not just disagreeing, they are getting offended. I'm sorry, but I can't tolerate that.

    Lizzysweet signaled that she has left the conversation "it's been grand! ." I'm hoping the temperature level of this thread will settle down now and we can resume our tryptophan-induced mellow. To be fair, she has also contributed worthy informative posts.

    Moving on to the farmer's market at The Barlow: First let be clear that my comment:

    "The one very-wrong answer is to have another market at The Barlow on Sundays" was just my personal opinion.

    Again, I really think Paula and any of her past actions should be put aside, and frankly I think it would be helpful if Paula completed her training of Jaime Smedes, and let Jamie and the SFM BOD work it out from here. If they want to move to The Barlow and Bret will have them, great! If they want to embrace the idea of 2 simultaneous markets at the plaza and at The Barlow, sure lets give it a try in the environment of mutual support and cooperation.

    However if neither of those options are chosen, for The Barlow to proceed with holding a farmer's market on Sunday's in direct competition with the plaza market, against the wishes of their (Paula-less) BOD still seems far from optimal and could easily create bad feelings just when The Barlow is just trying to get established.

    True, I hadn't considered whether there are enough vendors to participate at a Saturday market at The Barlow. I can't really speak to that. But surely that problem is exacerbated by having a second market in Sebastopol on Sunday.

    I don't see how a competitive market on Sunday's at The Barlow will benefit the community or The Barlow vs The Barlow hosting a market on another day which which will increase the opportunities to buy produce directly from the farmers without losing anything.
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