Archive for the ‘professionalism/ethics’ Category

Observations on Our Co-op

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

The Co-op (The People’s Food Co-op in Ann ARbor Michigan) is in a bit of a mess and confusion. Which is not anything new. I’ve been off the board for about 4 years, and have been mostly an observer. Although I do step in every once in a while to serve on a committee, as well as I’ve been called for advice and an historical perspective.
Previously, I was on the board for nine years and served three years as President. Not consecutive years. I also served as Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. I’ve been a decades long volunteer.
A few years ago we added up the time I had spent volunteering for the co-op and it was as if I had worked there full time for a year.
So I do have a few observations on the current state of the co-op. These issues are of course intertwined.

Here are a few opinions.

The board has been less than honest with the membership about the state of the co-op, and how much money we are losing. The board should be letting members know that we are in trouble. Not letting the membership know that we have been and continue to lose money is wrong, and also dangerous. It is the membership that can pull us out of this downturn, and the membership should be directly called on to be involved with saving the co-op. The silence and side stepping is bizarre. And may be the primary thing that brings the co-op to its termination.

The vote to unionize takes place tomorrow, Friday. I honestly don’t know if this would be a good or bad thing for the workers and for the co-op. And my opinion isn’t going to make any difference. What I can say is that there was a chance to do this with kindness. With dignity. With honesty and a great process. That hasn’t happened. There was no need to surprise the board with the news. And there was no need to make it personal, with direct personal attacks against the General Manager.
I worked for more focus on staff and having a great work environment as well as better wages and benefits. I’ve seen the progress in fits and starts. I also know that the staff having trouble with management has been a long term theme for our co-op. I believe the path to resolution includes a lot of listening, and a lot of kindness. A lot of the board supporting the GM and making sure they have the resources to work well with staff, and careful professional monitoring to make certain that happens. A union may help the co-op through a maturation process. It may also create an even more divisive atmosphere that will harm relationships and make financial recovery even more difficult.
We need to support the legal process required with a vote to unionize, and I ask everyone to be as kind, thoughtful, and aware as possible. That includes reviewing history and learning from previous mistakes as well as building on success.
I think unions are good things. They also change the culture of the workplace environment. Let’s see more kindness and compassion during and after this process. And I hope the vote is an informed vote balancing the staff needs with the stark financial reality that has been obfuscated unnecessarily.

The Co-op is once again without a permanent General Manager. This is a really painful place to be, and is hard on everyone. Thankfully there is policy and plans in place for this situation. And previously our staff have really pitched in to make things work in the interim. It is a total distraction for the board to go through a hiring process. Focus on long term plans, expansion, and pretty much everything else is set aside. It is essential for the board to get help during this time. I’m less and less confident of the board (not just this board but every board including when I was part of the board) having the skill to go through this process and to make good decisions – especially when a long term plan is still missing and without recent membership surveys and input. After my experience with the hiring process, I don’t think the board is qualified to be guiding this process. I believe the consultants from the co-op world, who have experience and expertise, should be heavily utilized at every step of the process. I also now believe the decision making should be shared by board, staff, and members. Without a clear direction and financial stability this is more important than ever.

A lot of people have been chewed up and spit out working for the Co-op. I’m sp very sad about this legacy.This just needs to stop. Moving forward, I would seriously ask the players to continually ask “how can this process be kinder?” “how can we benefit the most people?” “is there a kinder and more inclusive way to do this?” and “how can we empower the people involved and make sure everyone is informed?”

Those are the questions I would hope people will ask, the people who I am entrusting to make decisions that at this point will allow People’s Food Co-op to thrive or to die.

Being political – learning to listen

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

I invited an anti-abortion “rescue” activist to speak to a class I taught at Community High School. This was many years ago but it was a teaching experience I’ve never forgotten.

The small group of students in my “Political Organizing” class agreed it would be a unique chance to really listen to someone who had a viewpoint they strongly disagreed with. We agreed that the point would not be to debate or try to change anyone’s mind. It was a class comprised of liberal, pro-choice kids, and they truly wanted to understand how anyone could hold a position they found to be simply – but for many of us profoundly – wrong.

My brother David had a friend I had met a couple of times. David had told me this guy regularly went to protest at Planned Parenthood. He joined people from his church to try and “save” women from having abortions. I knew Bob casually, and enough about his political and protest activities to give him a wide berth – and certainly I did not want to discuss his actions with him. Until the class.

When I called him up to see if he might meet my class I was very candid about why we wanted to have him as a guest. And that every student had identified as pro-choice. That this was an exercise in being open to viewpoints we opposed, issues we had already come to a conclusion about. But that the students were sincere in wanting to hear a viewpoint they had not yet encountered first hand.

The class was great in giving Bob attention as he explained why he did this protesting, and his motivations and experience. They asked questions, they challenged him rather gently on women’s rights concerns, and they talked a lot with him about his deep passion and convictions concerning life and his very deeply held religious beliefs.

In the end, no one changed their minds. But something even more important happened. The students expressed some surprise at how deeply Bob felt about the issue, how articulate and well thought out his ideas and beliefs were. They did not expect that. And they gained some insight into why he was doing work that they had dismissed previously as mostly misguided and hateful.

There was a connection, there was greater respect, there was kindness, there was learning. And there was the budding practice of sitting down and learning to listen to a perceived enemy.

I believe it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taught. And this skill is desperately relevant today.

Reporting in Ann Arbor

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The Ann Arbor Chronicle ends next week. One of the more successful – by some definitions – news publications in a long while. After six years the Editor and Publisher are calling it quits. David Askins and Mary Morgan have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and apparently that is not a sustainable business model, or lifestyle.

There have always been an odd assortment of publications in Ann Arbor, and I’m thankful that I have written for a number of them. Two special pieces in the Chronicle on people important to our community – Ken King and Dick Siegel. I also posted very frequent “Stopped Watched” short reports, on many natural and unnatural events I observed mostly while just walking around.

As a digression, I started by helping to create and write for “Yenta” – a student publication at Community High School in the ’70s. Our motton was “Chicken Soup for the Mind”. I wrote a few pieces for the Ann Arbor Alchemist, one I story in particular really enjoyed on the underground vaulted sidewalks downtown. I’ve written for The Ann Arbor News (guest editorials), The Crazy Wisdom Journal, I started and wrote many years formy own nearly monthly newsletter called “Contributions to Wisdom”. The best part of that newsletter was the monthly interviews of people who I found interesting, generous, and doing important work. I also wrote a few pieces for “The Ann Arbor Observer”. The first was on capturing a swarm of bees, then on the death of my odd neighbor, and most recently on a trip down the Huron River. I was also asked to blog for The reinvented Ann Arbor News – annarbor.com.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle had, from the start, a very clear mission. My interpretation of that is striving for very high standards of writing and reporting, an obligation to report for the community and provide an accessible record of public and especially governmental events. It turned into a forum for thoughtful and mostly kind commentary and additional contributions form readers. Something that informed readers in Ann Arbor no longer take for granted. David and Mary also became frightfully informed sources able to quickly reference and make sensible previous decisions, and related actions. Their ability to provide deep background and useful explanations became more and more awesome the longer The Chronicle went on.

The current version of The Ann Arbor News (reinvented yet again from annarbor.com reinvented from the The Ann Arbor News) continues to provide much of the important day to day “hey there was an accident”, this is happening or has happened, breaking stories, informing us of crime and mayhem. Some good recipes, access to restaurant inspections, and some good news as well. It is a quicker, simpler, more basic kind of news without the context and linking that The Chronicle excelled at. The “news” also has its moments of awfulness, I agree. A running joke around here is in any breaking news event waiting for the story of how people feel about what happened rather than actual reporting on what happened. The recent ferris wheel mishap seemed especially heavy on reporting if people would still go on the ride. This is not news reporting.

The comment section of the Ann Arbor News is especially painful as nearly all the comments actually add nothing of any substance, but are quick conclusions, strongly stated opinions without a lot of substance attached, and often confusion and misinformation. It often destroys any positive reaction I have to a story, and leaves me wondering about the fate of humanity. Signed and verified comments would improve things I believe. The accusation is that it isn’t done because comments increase clicks which increase ad revenue. Yikes. This is no way to get good content.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle ended up relying heavily on voluntary paid subscriptions. Mary tells me I may be the longest subscriber they had. I would be very proud of that if it is true. I believe in these alternative funding models, and while my support was never in large amounts of money, the persistent confidence and trust that a regular payment portrays is also a very vital part of supporting a venture I truly believe in.

I will miss reporting for the Chronicle’s Stopped Watched column. I’ll try and do more of that in my blog. Short, interesting posts that are image heavy. I will miss The Ann Arbor Chronicle as a resource. But I trust other venues will emerge. There is a very funny group of people who tweet city council meetings, #a2council They may become the public record of actions taken within city hall. That would be funny, and not all bad. But a little weird, like the fact that so many now rely on Jon Stewart to get the world news.

It matters a lot to me that Mary and Dave stick around, even that they are in my neighborhood. I hope their next adventures will include my selfish need to have people as funny, talented, creative and with such enormous integrity near by. I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Local reporting can be done so much more on an individual basis. Blogs, facebook, twitter, are three dominant methods. Relying a bit on larger corporations that are in it for the money isn’t all bad. They do employ some talented, creative, and caring people. I know many at The Ann Arbor News, and respect those individuals. I refuse to be bitter or absolute in my critique of that news source. A broad brush does not meaningfully describe what they are contributing.

The best thing that can happen next is creative, interesting ideas for local news and information. The largest hole that will need to be quickly addressed is the need for eyes on government. Openness and transparency in public work requires good and extensive press coverage. Dave and Mary set a new much higher standard, and proved how important this is. How do we meet it now?

Saving a Life

Monday, August 4th, 2014

How many lives have you “saved”? What does that even mean? Is that a responsibility that anyone should accept?

There are numerous feel good stories about people who save someone from dying. Pulling a driver from a car wreck, successfully getting people at risk out of a dangerous country, stopping an attack on the street, knowing critical first aid. But what happens next can be complicated.

There are at least 6 people who I can say my intervention saved them from likely death, five of those instances confirmed by medical practitioners. In 34 years of practicing holistic health care there are other instances of helping people “wake up” to life, regain a sense of meaning and purpose, make lifestyle changes that certainly enhanced and prolonged life. And dozens of times I was consulted about what medical care was needed – and I was fortunate to know enough to send them to the ER or urgent care when it turned out conventional care was urgently needed.

Some were friends, some family, some clients, some complete strangers.

Considering those moments, those stories, those decisions can feel burdensome. Heavy. Partly because if I did indeed save these lives, the converse can also be true that I could have dropped the ball, made the wrong decision, and participated in someone dying. And not everyone will appreciate or thank you or even agree that your actions were helpful.

I don’t think we are meant to be responsible for other people’s lives. Even a parent is priming their children to let go, be on their own, be responsible for themselves. Holding on and claiming authority or ownership of another can’t work. If you are a parent, a teacher, or someone who has saved a life, you must let go.

The cliche “life goes on” is especially profound in this circumstance. You may have touched a person in a deeply meaningful and significant way. Then the best thing to do is to step back, let life go on, and be at peace with that. Maybe you’ll continue the relationship and be thanked on their death bed. That has happened to me. Maybe you’ll be vilified for your actions. Yes, I’ve had that as well. You may never see the person again, or only casually. Or they were too young to know your part or your role has been dropped from the story. That has also happened. Of the 6 people I did rescue, two would deny it and they also let me know they are angry about my intervention. Not everyone welcomes such an intimate and real contact. My one experience with a birth where there was a life threatening complication, it ended a long time close friendship.

I like it when it turns out I am the right person, with the right skills, at the right place, at the right time. And I can reflect that I did the best I could. Thirty years after the fact, my brother told the story of being exactly that. He had been trained in first aid and overdose aid, and as a 16 year old in 1973 he was staffing the first aid tent at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. They were handling people with bad trips, dehydration, simple things.

Then they were called to deal with a young man who was choking, whose airway was cut off. From some drug or allergic reaction, no one knew and there was no time to tell. As David told the story, they had all been trained to do an emergency tracheotomy but of course no one had actually done it. And David and the adults he was with all knew that was needed. But who would be willing to give it a try in this life or death situation?

No one was stepping forward, so David called for the pocket knife and a pen to use as a temporary tube. He says he cut the man’s throat, in the right spot, and inserted the pen piece. The man was breathing and regaining some color when the ambulance finally arrived.

The emergency crew quickly took over, but one of the paramedics commented that they didn’t want to know who did the emergency trach, but whoever did it did a good job and certainly saved the man’s life. What would he have said if he knew it was the bearded 16 year old standing by?

David told the story with great relief – he took action and it worked. It wasn’t the first time he was called to act quickly and decisively. He was the one who found the client who had tumbled down the stairs at the crisis center, fracturing his skull and lying in a pool of blood. He was the one who found the neighbor’s home on fire, and grabbed a hose while calling out for someone else to dial 911. David was very good in emergencies.

He also shook it off. He extracted what he could learn from each crisis, pondered why he saw so many of them, and evaluated his actions and those who were also involved. And then let it go, let life go on. Although he also relished a good dramatic story, and enjoyed sharing the lessons learned when he could.

I’m not entangled in the lives I’ve saved or the times I’ve been able to help. It works better that way, and I also don’t hesitate to be open to the opportunities to help. I believe in each person’s autonomy and hope they can be powerful, strong, fully enabled human beings. I truly cherish those intimate connections and sometimes grieve when that intimacy is cut off or fizzles away. And life goes on.

Breastfeeding and CST

Monday, July 28th, 2014

I’m often asked which babies can benefit from Cranialsacral Therapy (CST). My usual response is any baby born either vaginally or by cesarean section. Do I really believe all babies can benefit from this work? Actually, yes. That’s why I offered it free of charge for so many years, and even now make sure it is affordable ($30 for a house call within Ann Arbor). I will also waive the charge if that is an obstacle for any mom who wants me to work with her baby under three months of age.

The primary reasons people come to me for CST are nursing problems; and birth trauma including hematomas, shoulder dystocia, irregularity in the sutures, frequent vomiting, or just for reassurance. Most of the time I only need to provide one session.

I suppose that in 32 years of doing this work I’ve seen a few thousand babies. In that time I’ve also moved from working on babies hours after birth, to just after (sometimes in a hospital birth I can do CST while a baby is being examined or even while being suctioned), to a few times when just the head has emerged, to now routinely doing CST on babies who are not yet born.

My perception of what the baby is capable of and how they respond has shifted completely. The words we use to describe birth imply that somehow the baby isn’t “here” until the birth. Women are asked “when is the baby coming?” We often say “She is finally here!” when a baby is born. As if the baby wasn’t present the whole time, albeit in a series of profoundly different states and ways of being.

I started off as one of those who pretty much thought there wasn’t much there (and certainly nothing to work with) until birth was imminent. But over the many years I found that babies are actually very responsive to CST – many weeks before they are born. The primary positive benefit of this early work is helping the baby be in a better position for birth. So I’ve worked with a number of transverse, breech, ascynclitic, and posterior presentations and helped the baby to turn him or herself. For me, that is the key. The baby does the moving with the very very subtle CST suggestions. There is no force, I have never turned a baby. The work can be done at any time, even during labor. Of course, with a transverse or breech presentation it is better to begin a few weeks ahead of time. I wrote a brief article about the first time we were able to have a baby turn herself after 45 hours of labor, and thus avoided a most likely c-section.

The idea of no force and no demands is also a prominent part of doing CST with nursing babies. It feels much more like teaching than adjusting. The baby’s cranial mechanism is so very malleable, so very sensitive, the lightest of touches and sometimes really just suggestions of touch are usually enough to bring better vitality to the mechanism and therefore a correction.

I know that my work is effective. I wouldn’t keep doing it if it wasn’t – and indeed since I’ve never advertised for clients but have stayed in business for 34 years full time I must be doing something right. But it is with the babies that I feel most in awe of the work, and also have such immediate and clear feedback that the CST is effective. Countless times I’ve been entrusted to do this work with a newborn having nursing troubles, done some simple CST, and then watched as the mom and baby have the most successful nursing experience yet. And then weeks, months, and even years later moms report how much that one session changed everything.

What makes me deeply deeply happy is being able to make the nursing experience better and more successful. It is about great nutrition certainly, but also reinforcing the bonding that occurs with mom and baby when nursing is (relatively) easy and also pain free. This is support that has profound and long lasting effects. I am so grateful that just a little help and support at that sage has such profound positive results.

This is work that makes my heart sing. It is an honor to be entrusted with this small precious beings, and an incredible joy to do such simple work that makes a difference, and improves the quality of life for the whole family.

I have also worked with babies who had serious problems. Mild to severe cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders that were apparent even early on, babies with damage incurred during birth, babies with heart defects. I’ve worked with some of these babies for many years continuing. Even the kids who are non verbal make it clear that they like the work, they find it relaxing, and they are glad to see me.

Parents usually ask about when to come back, and how often CST should be done. After all this time I certainly have some ideas, and I’ll share them with my clients, especially if there is a more serious need or my experience is that repeat visits would be advised. But I have a larger philosophy. Many of the moms I see have been disempowered – told they are imagining things, brushed off by busy doctors, or just left dangling with few resources and support. Part of my work is to undo that damage. And it is very damaging if women don’t have the chance to learn and become confident as a new parent.

So the answer is, I would like the mom to learn about what I do, and then learn how to recognize herself when her baby might benefit from a repeat session. And most moms do very well. Eventually, the baby grows older and they learn when they need that support. I am absolutely thrilled that there are so many kids who say “I need to see Linda Diane” – asking for my help even as young as a 2 or 3 year old. That is as it should be. They learn to feel what they need, to ask for it, and then get the reinforcement for their awareness of what their body needs. That is a most perfect answer.

I will be offering a class this fall “Cranialsacral Therapy at the Beginning of Life” for midwives, doulas, doctors, and other people who support women and babies. Please contact me if you are interested. classes (at) lindadianefeldt.com

I won’t be going back to Sears

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

I just wanted a new mattress. I had discovered that two long twins equal a king. It was touch and go getting the used king mattress upstairs to my bedroom a few years ago, it tested the new relationship I was in but with his ingenuity and some pure combined muscle strength we did it. But the bed was bad to begin with and it only got worse over time.

That relationship was over sooner than the bed. My current love has flourished even with a bad bed, and two dogs, but we deserved something new.

Now the story gets worse and worse.
Sears appeared to have a good selection to choose from. I did my internet due diligence, and went to the local store. I also tried Art Van but was very distressed by the high pressure slaes tactics and the guarantee that every mattress there would fit up a narrow winding staircase. The two sales people at Sears seemed sincere, no hard sell, and steered me to a bed I liked.
I went back the next day and bought the two twins, arranged for delivery the next week, and the female sales person said she would always remember me because I was her first sale made with the Ipad.
I paid the delivery fee, I think $60, and an additional $15 to take away the old mattress.

I was texted, emailed, and finally called to confirm the delivery date. Noon on Wednesday. At 10 am on Wednesday I got a call from Sears and all I heard was there was a problem, and we were disconnected. No one called back. So I called the number and they said the bed wasn’t ready and would be delivered on Friday. I had already disassembled my bed and couldn’t get it back together on my own. I was promised an email coupon for 10% of the purchase price for the inconvenience.That never came.
But then a little before noon a truck appeared in the parking lot across the street, and I got a call asking where my house was. GPS sent them to the wrong place. But I wasn’t expecting them, since the delivery had been cancelled. They dashed upstairs with the two mattresses, glanced at the old one and said they wouldn’t take it. It had to be stain free. What? What old mattress is stain free and why would that matter and no one said anything about that. So I had three mattresses piled in my bedroom.

I called the nice salespeople at the local sears and they said oh yes, that is true. We can return your $15. But I have nowhere to sleep and can’t get into my bedroom hardly. No response. They couldn’t figure out how to return my money,as I paid with a debit card. I suggested a check and they said okay, and about ten minutes later they had a manager authorizing that return. I said I would like to complain about being misinformed and now having no way to set up my bed and she was only going to focus on getting me $15.

I had to pay a friend to come and move the old mattress so that I could at least set up my new bed and have a place to sleep.

i got a call from another manager later, who said of course they would pick up my mattress and the whole thing was a mistake. Someone would arrange for my old mattress to be picked up ASAP. I again tried to register a complaint, and she said it would be taken care of. I got a number to make the new arrangements.

That was set up for Friday, and on Thursday I got texts emails confirming my delivery. So I went on line and confirmed – the thought they were to deliver two more mattresses. So I called, spent some time on hold, and the person on the phone said yes we are delivering a foundation. Which was never part of the arrangement. So I clarified there was no delivery, only a pick up. She said oh yes, we had you down for two mattresses. She canceled that.

The guys in the truck came two hours before their scheduled time on Friday, I wasn’t fully ready, and they also parked in the wrong place, missing my street entirely. But they had the mattress down stairs and gone in record time.

Each time I went on line to check and then to follow up I was asked how Sears did. Each time I rated the service as very poor. Each time – five times total – I asked for a follow up email and gave my contact info. In the next week I got a couple dozen emails from Sears about sales and coupons and it took almost two weeks to get unsubscribed from everything. Five complaints filed on line asking for follow up and twice on the phone, there was no follow up. I asked for reimbursement of the $25 I had to pay to get someone to help me at the last minute move the mattress that I thought I was now stuck with.

It was a stressful week. It was three days of upheaval and uncertainty. It was time spent waiting but all at the wrong time and for the wrong thing.

The check for $15 came the next week. That was to reimburse me for the mattress removal fee.

I counted about 12 errors in the simple delivery of two mattresses. And no corporate response, no acknowledgement, no one taking responsibility. A major breakdown in communications within the company and then with the customer. This is a company gone rogue, and apparently no idea that things have fallen apart. With such great blindness there can be no trust, no accountability, nothing you can rely on. That sort of blundering has reverberations throughout the entire corporation.

I do not want to ever buy anything from Sears again. I will avoid their store even if it was to be convenient our cost saving to shop there. It shouldn’t be possible to screw up so badly and not even notice. It shouldn’t be allowed to file 7 total complaints and not get one acknowledgement or a single response from any level. They do not deserve my business, I was warned that they are irresponsible and I didn’t listen. I let people know through facebook and now through blogging that this is not a good company to do business with, and they are entirely unreliable in customre service. I hope you will take my advice.

Meanwhile, the bed has turned out very well. It only took about two weeks to not feel stressed for a bit each night, thinking about the error of making the purchase from Sears. There is a hidden cost shopping from Sears in stress, time, and aggravation. Don’t pay it. Shop somewhere else. That’s my advice.

Interacting with Medical Students

Friday, October 4th, 2013

This was the week for being shadowed by UM first year Medical students. I had five students visit my basement office, over three days, and observe my work with clients or experience bodywork first hand. These future doctors continue to be interested, respectful, and even excited about the potential of combining and collaborating with integrative and alternative health care practitioners.
It is really fun and inspiring to have the contact with them. It is a great program, I believe it is now in the ninth year of providing these opportunities for learning and having a positive interaction. I’ve been part of it each year, and really do see that these future doctors are evolving in their curiosity and respect for non-mainstream health care. Things are changing, very much for the better in my view.
I had a great time and look forward to what happens next – which happens to be teaching a 3 session (6 hour) class in herbal preparations to 3rd year medical students in just two weeks.

AnnArbor.com

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

The good news, the content is getting very interesting. The bugs are working out, and it is becoming an interesting and even valuable news and community information source. This may indeed work. I like the people involved, and they have hired some excellent reporters. A few of the blogs are a little stilted and similar, but I can see that is beginning to change. People are finding their voice. There is such passion and creativity that is being focused and channeled. I look forward to expanded topics. I will enjoy getting to know these creative and passionate people.

The news stories are also coming into the format – more immediate, longer, responsive, meaningful. It is an adjustment. Important stories are being played up, and sports are not in your face demanding headline attention which I was afraid of. A nice balance so far, and there are noticeable improvements regularly. Great start.

But —
Customer service? My experience, it doesn’t exist. I can’t get a paper delivered, and I can’t get anyone to respond. And that is just bizarre.

There is no customer service for annarbor.com and no one seems to care. I have been trying to get my subscription honored and have had no luck. I’ve tried.

I’ve called customer service over a dozen times. I e-mailed the publisher, I left messages with the district manager and also the regular manager (4 messages to him). I got the carrier’s name and called him. I wrote three e-mails to the customer service e-mail listed on the site.

And no one will call or e-mail me back.

I didn’t get my last two papers, the other two were late (4 days for one, 5 hours for the other) and delivered by a manager, not the carrier.

I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such a total customer service fiasco before.

It is just totally bizarre.

Now I’m told (today) it is no longer possible to get last Sunday’s paper.

Why doesn’t AnnArbor.com have any customer relations people? Calls are sent to Jackson, Flint, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids. The people who answer don’t work for annarbor.com, don’t have any authority or ability to do anything other than take a complaint, and I get to listen to ads for the FLint Journal while on hold trying to get some answers (and papers). They can’t provide any service.

The people in Jackson seem to be the nicest, Flint coming in 2nd.

Why won’t anyone working for annarbor.com return calls or e-mails? Isn’t that part of a manager’s job – to address and solve complaints?

And mostly the satellite people try to help but don’t have the correct info, don’t have any options other than to send a fax, and can’t get a paper delivered. They can’t provide customer service.

AnnArbor.com needs to hire people to do customer service. And train them to follow up on every complaint. And, I think they might consider firing the company who is doing the delivery. Because they don’t care, and they don’t make themselves visible or responsible, or responsive. And that is the most important part of a company that is providing a service. Being responsive to customer’s requests and complaints.

My complaint has gone beyond the lack of delivery. It now includes that customer service for annarbor.com is abysmal, because it is non-existent. Outsourcing this critical component rarely goes well.

Even though I said nice things about the content, and mean it, it isn’t enough. AnnArbor.com needs good customers to survive. If you treat us this badly, you lose us. Nothing could be more obvious, and yet here we are. It is just bizarre. Why would a company trying to be innovative and successful make such a mistake? I am just baffled.

I’ll update if something positive happens. Two weeks of total failure can’t go on much longer, can it?

I’m Voting for Mike Anglin Tomorrow

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

First, I encourage you to vote if you are in Ann Arbor’s 3rd or 5th wards. I’m supporting former councilperson Kunselman, because of the chickens, because of his position on the Argo Dam, and because Greden seems arrogant and unfriendly.

In the Fifth Ward, I support Mike Anglin. Mike has been approachable, reasonable, and interested in hearing from his constituents. I appreciate his lone vote against the parking garage, and being willing to go against the flow. We have all democrats, we need some diversity to keep council debate healthy and open. Mike has done well in that role.

The attendance issues seems to be greatly overblown. Mike has missed just one of the 41 council meetings, 1 of the 37 caucuses, 1 council work session out of 15, perfect attendance on Liquor Control meetings, has gone to 11 of 16 Parks Advisory meetings, perfect attendance for Audit Committee meetings, perfect attendance for Taxi Board meetings, missed one of the three Brownsfields Board meetings, and his worst record are for two groups – attended 3 of 10 meetings for Washtenaw Area Transportation Study and 1 of 5 Environmental Commission meetings.

So of 151 meetings he could have attended as a part time representative, he actually attended 131. And the major ones were covered. I think calling him absent is inaccurate.

Mike is likely to even better as a 2nd term representative. He deserves the chance, especially now that the overt disrespect and sabotage have come to light. And as one friend said she is voting for Mike Anglin just to piss of Greden. Hey, that works for me too.

Ethics interview

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

I had a chance to talk about one of my favorite subjects recently, with Bart Bund and Jeanine DeLay who are part of a2ethics.org. It was an enjoyable discussion, wide ranging and also covering some interesting aspects of ethics and alternative health care.

The pod cast is about an hour long. I did have a chance to talk about my ethics project, currently in the implementation stage.

They are interviewing “local superheroes” and you can listen to me squirm a bit with that idea. It is always nice to be acknowledged for my work, and I’m more comfortable talking about the work rather than having any super healing powers. And in the interview, I do talk about how those “powers” may be developed, as well as an appropriate container for that.

Nala is present for the first part of the discussion, until she is sent to the basement.

I could talk about ethics for days. Very inspiring, very brain expanding. I’d be curious to know if anyone finds this discussion interesting or stimulating. I liked listening to it again! That’s a good sign.

The podcast is on the site, no separate URL for it.