Can the Co-ops Save Us?

In an odd inversion of the usual circumstance in which a reporter is granted access to a private enterprise, I have been allowed in because Evergreen’s leaders want to open up about what’s really been happening here. They’ve realized that there is such a thing as too much good publicity, and the expectations have been set far too high. Even before I drive to Cleveland to see the three Evergreen businesses, the co-op’s chief architect, Ted Howard, warns me that he’s wary of another fluff piece about just how wonderful and perfect Evergreen is making Cleveland. “We’ve been learning important lessons here,” he says before scheduling my visit. “We’re by no means perfect.” McMicken echoes this when we meet: “We, in many ways, closed the door down on some of the hype while we focused on our operations and our staff and the health and well-being of our business. We have to have a real story to tell, that we’ve launched ourselves into consistently successful businesses. That has to be the focus.”

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