backstory: so a few years ago - when i was living with ian, around when i started going out with rachel - i found a co-op vegan cafe in hackney called pogo. i was unemployed/temping at the time so i signed up to do some volunteer shifts, which i enjoyed, but then i got work, i moved away, yada yada yada... but i've never signed off the weekly update emails, as i like knowing what's going on there.
news: i was going to blog all the emails that have been going around for posterity, but there's too many now and i don't think it will stop any time soon. so to summarise:
this week, there's been a lot of drama in the cafe, secret and emergency meetings, and finally, an annoucement that members of co-op are leaving, amid accusations that they are an 'impenetreble clique'. it seems that a pile of skip-divided meat was rescued from the local supermarket and kept in the pogo freezers, and then forgotten about. it was finally discovered and created a massive vegan shitstorm, that resulted in the dissolution of the co-op as it stood.
opinion: the ethics of freegan meat are debatable; i wouldn't eat it, because i wouldn't enjoy it. but that's not what this is about.
communication is the glue that holds a co-op together, and it seems this was the mistake that was made, in the form of storing the meat (depite labelled 'not for cafe use') and not moving it in time. but rather than try to work out how to avoid this mistake in future, some volunteers kicked up a stink. lots of the emails that have gone round have focused on how outraged people are at the vegan side of the matter, to the point where they have utterly demolished any form of co-operation. it's hard not to see this whole thing a a petty issue-settling coup; a mistake was made, and a game of 'now i've got you, you son of a bitch' was entered. the accused have removed themselves from the situation, and their leaving email was well measured and reasoned; they've admitted they made mistakes, and provided examples where they believed they had been maligned, but then felt unable to continue in the co-op given the atmosphere that had been created. the newly-established 'open collective' then emailed, in a similarly measured way, but not really addressing my problem: that surely this shit could have been worked through if people had wanted to do that.
needless to say the whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth and i won't be returning to the cafe (not that they've missed me, i've not been there for about two years). the whole thing is disappointing socially, but fascinating sociologically.
i do, of course, wish them the best and hope the open collective approach is more succesful.
enter the discussion on the pogo site