Comments on: City Notifies Selma Cafe of Zoning Violation it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Derek Peterson Derek Peterson Sun, 28 Apr 2013 23:46:50 +0000 “The letter states that Selma Cafe violates those restrictions in three ways: (1) more people are involved in the operation than are allowed under city code; (2) more than the permitted 10 vehicle trips per day are generated; and (3) the need for parking is not being met.”

Seriously? Those are the issues? The first *may* be legitimate for safety reasons in the event of a fire or something, but the other two are completely asinine. Rather than targeting SELMA, perhaps Ann Arbor should revisit its city code because those are exactly the kind of rules that hold this city back.

By: Harvey Elliott Harvey Elliott Sun, 28 Apr 2013 22:49:32 +0000 I was at Selma several weeks ago and they were adamant about not parking on any of the streets in the area. Perhaps some Selma cafe attendees have ignored the volunteers directing traffic, but this whole thing seems silly to me. As an Ann Arbor resident of 7 years, closing Selma cafe seems like such a shame… If you’d like to know how Selma works, maybe you should volunteer there or go build a hoop house. I assure you, if you show some initiative outside of a google search, you wont have any concerns about transparency. It’s really a shame that the people who have complained may never have the opportunity to experience Selma. Congrats. You’ve “won.”

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Mon, 22 Apr 2013 15:36:04 +0000 Mark, nice to see you speaking for yourself for a change.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Mon, 22 Apr 2013 14:47:15 +0000 @Steve Bean:

“What exactly would it help?

There have been questions raised by the public about whether SELMA is in essence, a financing arm of Nifty Hoops, LLC or, rather, a bona fide non-profit entity. The recent actions of FSEP have magnified these concerns. Volunteer labor at SELMA and in the construction of these “hoop houses” supervised by Jeff McCabe result in significant operating expense savings. Are these savings passed along to the farmer or is it for the primary benefit of Nifty Hoops, LLC.

“Your own transparency would help.”

What transparency do you mean? If you mean I have an “axe to grind” – no. I have never met the operators of SELMA or ate or volunteered there. I like the basic model that it operates under – volunteering for a non-profit to benefit local farmers with donations from the public, however I have serious reservations about how SELMA has operated in practice being in a residential neighborhood and with respect to the recent actions of FSEP.

I personally would like to see SELMA continue at an appropriate location and assist local farmers while complying with applicable standards expected of a non-profit in a transparent and professional manner.

Ms. Armentrout’s observations, above, are well-taken.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Mon, 22 Apr 2013 13:26:15 +0000 @44: “Transparency would help.”

What exactly would it help? Your own transparency would help.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Mon, 22 Apr 2013 04:09:49 +0000 @Dan Ezekiel:

Can you tell us if Jeff McCabe or Nifty Hoops, LLC earned any money over and above materials and out-of pocket expense reimbursements on hoop houses that were funded by SELMA revenues?

It seems as though the August 2012 article in suggested that SELMA revenues were financing Nifty Hoops, LLC projects.

Are any capital expenditures for equipment made via SELMA revenues and, if so, who owns that equipment.

Transparency would help.

By: Dan Ezekiel Dan Ezekiel Sun, 21 Apr 2013 12:28:02 +0000 As I said in the comments on “SELMA has been a joyful, creative gathering place for those who care about locally-sourced food. Let’s thank Lisa and Jeff for opening their home. If the gathering has now grown too big for the neighborhood, let’s look for creative (and legal) ways to continue it.”

As to the conspiracy theories about Nifty Hoops, this is not exactly Solyndra. Nifty Hoops is a minuscule business, helping other minuscule businesses (mini-local-farms) to build $10K structures. Everyone at SELMA understood from the beginning that some of the proceeds from the breakfasts were to be used to build hoop houses, The first few dozen hoop houses were built with volunteer labor (largely drawn from the SELMA diners). Jeff made no money from them. I helped build several of these first hoops. Jeff skillfully orchestrated these all-day building projects, a modern version of a barn raising, keeping several dozen inexperienced volunteers safe and busy. The sense of group accomplishment and pride at the end of the day was inspiring.

After donating several years of his life to building up the infrastructure for local food, Jeff needed an income and incorporated the hoop operation into a tiny company. He knows (from experience) more than anyone about how to build a strong, economical hoop house in SE Michigan. If this allows him to make a modest living and continue advocating for local food, more power to him!

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sun, 21 Apr 2013 02:01:49 +0000 Re (41):

New movements and ideas require a period of fluidity. There is a time when a few people bring together others in a moment of inspiration and hope to create something that has not been seen before. I was privileged to see some of the local food movement begin in 2007 (I was an observer, not an initiator) when Slow Food Huron Valley began to proselytize and educate on this subject. I wrote a piece for the Ann Arbor Observer, published in 2008. Not long after that, SELMA started up as a genuinely spontaneous, volunteer-driven effort to bring people together to inspire and fund local agricultural enterprises.

One of the things I saw about SELMA in those early days was that they provided a focus, especially for the young (college-age) people who desperately wanted to make something happen. I myself volunteered a couple of times to peel vegetables and wash dishes and saw a dedication and enthusiasm among the young volunteers (who also helped with those hoop houses)which was very heartening.

SELMA also provided a setting for a salon on local food, sustainability, green energy, and all the current topics of interest to a group who have aspirations for a better future. That alone was worthwhile.

The sad thing is that SELMA never quite achieved the organizational competence that should have been the next step. Those familiar with the nonprofit world know what I mean. You have to get your accounting, your board, your bylaws, and your tax status all together after that first lovely flush of creative volunteer enthusiasm has crested. Their failure to achieve this and to move on to a better venue, professional accounting, and other things is regrettable. Unfortunately, it seemed to move on to a complex business model that mixed a number of different enterprises and became confusing.

Your specific points (which I will not try to evaluate) all apply to what the mature organization might have been. You are correct that there seem to be a lot of reporting gaps. But I see no benefit in trying to track down all the details at this moment. Clearly they are at a moment of transition. Whether SELMA will surface again in this form, and its relationship to Nifty Hoops, are unknown.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Sun, 21 Apr 2013 00:04:21 +0000 @Vivienne Armentrout:

“……..SELMA can probably acccount for some real accomplishment(though that has not been spelled out in a very comprehensible way)….”

There have been very recent concerns that revenues derived from SELMA are funding miroroloans to local farmers to construct hoop houses and SELMA co-founder Jeff McCabe is a hoop house manufacturer.

Do SELMA revenues go anywhere else except to fund hoop houses?

What percentage of microloans are for Nifty Hoops, LLC – the entity owned by Jeff McCabe?

Are SELMA-financed projects producing appreciable profits for Nifty Hoops, LLC?

Should Jeff McCabe sit as a board member of SELMA if microloans from SELMA funds are being used to fund any hoop house projects his company is constructing?

Jeff McCabe should be trying to clear the air by elucidating the nature of the microloans between SELMA and the hoop house projects it finances. People may speculate that SELMA revenues are being created to “grease” sales for his benefit.

By: John Dory John Dory Sat, 20 Apr 2013 19:09:34 +0000 Jeff McCabe, board member of SELMA, owns a hoop-house business that gets its construction of hoop houses financed with SELMA non-profit revenues. The loans are at 6% interest for 3 years. This arrangement has been disclosed in a number of farm journal articles downloaded from the Internet.