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Seeking Suggestions: Community Garden at the Crossroads

  • Subject: [cg] Seeking Suggestions: Community Garden at the Crossroads
  • From: David Bain davidbain@pacbell.net
  • Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 22:40:59 -0800

Hello fellow Gardeners,

I am hoping for some suggestions for arbitration, community resources or
legal opinion.

I belong to a wonderfully situated community garden in  the Hollywood Hills
of Los angels California. It's called Wattles Farm and our infant website is
here http://www.wattlesfarm.org .

A significant number of members have had concerns with the way the Board of
Directors has carried out their leadership and oversight roles.

Minutes and agendas of meetings are not published, garden rules are not
equitably and regularly enforced, the educational and outreach portion of
the mission of the garden are not being addressed, members are discussed in
private, etc.

The BOD also, literally, has it's hand on the ballot box when votes are
being cast. Members are ejected who are disliked for their "attitude" and
friends and relations of the BOD are given favored treatment.

Some members are concerned that we could loose our 501(3)( c) status, as the
reporting and recordkeeping are not up to snuff. And, here in California,
there is the question of the Brown Act...

There is a real "us" and "them" feeling developing in the garden. Many of us
feel that we are in a small fiefdom not a community garden.

But--what truly concerns me--is that two members of the garden have
contacted attorneys and are making concerted efforts to move the dispute out
of the realm of the garden into the view of local politicians and lawyers.
While I share their very real concerns (and my partner is an attorney) I
would like to see change and reconciliation occur IN the garden.

I'd appreciate and experience, insights or resources with these sorts of
issues. How have other gardens worked these issues out? Has anyone used
arbitrators or ombudsmen? How have folks worked with difficult BODs?

Thanks in advance for you wisdom and suggestions.

David Bain

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