Member-owners of Little Five Points fixture Sevananda Natural Foods Market plan to picket outside the store this weekend to protest what they call an “undemocratic” and “uncooperative” stance by the store over the last few years. The protest will take place on Saturday and Sunday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the store, 467 Moreland Ave.
Sevananda, which sells all-natural foods and goods, is a co-operative store owned by members and has been in business since 1974. Disagreements with the direction of the store and its current board of directors has been brewing, leading to the formation of a 50-member group calling itself Sevananda Concerned Members (SCM).
SCM alleges that two elections within four years were halted by seizure of the ballot box on orders from the board led by incumbent board president candidate, Calvin Vismale. The board also refused to allow two more annual elections in the past four years, according to a release sent to the media. There are also allegations of money squandered on lawsuits as the current board tries to retain power.
The SCM statement also noted that Sevananda’s bylaws call for an elected 9-member board, but only five people are currently on the board. A “statement of legal authority” posted by the Sevananda board on the store’s website indicates that there are only five members: Vismale, Connie Turpeau, Jen Macuch Kato, Patrice Walker and Bert Smith. The statement posted by the board also alleges that “certain members of Sevananda have challenged the authority of the current board of directors of Sevananda and purported to establish an alternative board using procedures which do not comply with Sevananda’s bylaws.”