Letters for August 26 

Readers sound off on our dining reviews and Cafe Gratitude's ties with Landmark Forum.

"Classic Americana Revitalized at Scott Howard's Five," Restaurant Review, 8/5

Singing Prose

I'm writing to say how much I enjoy Matthew Stafford's beautifully written restaurant reviews. His descriptions give a context to the food and his prose just sings. His review of Five, where my husband and I dined Saturday night with friends, was particularly lovely. I appreciate good writing in general and have come to savor a well-written restaurant review. He certainly delivers.

Toni Mayer, El Cerrito

"I am Annoyed and Disappointed," News, 8/5

Doing Business Differently

I am the president and founder of the chair massage company On the Spot Massage LLC, and I am a Landmark Education graduate of which one of the Cafe Gratitude founders led a course I was participating in and the other was one of my coaches. The courses are a Socratic method of posing questions in a manner that allows one to dig deeply, give space to and create a stretch in one's human potential. You could say very much like how scientists work in an area of the unknown to create a breakthrough where there may not have even been a language for what they are looking to achieve, they keep bumping up against variables, possibilities, and new openings, and a breakthrough occurs. This is also a design-inquiry paradigm that humans can access and experience peak performance, new awareness in an area that occurred like a closed book or a jar with a lid on it. The courses are very practical and at the same time very transformational.I got insights into what was possible in regards to really taking my business to a higher level with an elevated purpose using the principles and new language to expand the experience and achieve the results I said I wanted to have.

While I have experienced being a vegan, eaten raw food, and been a pioneer in the natural-foods industry, my experience and patronage at Cafe Gratitude was not because I needed a raw-foods fix, although they do that quite well, it was to get in the atmosphere of doing business differently in thinking, speaking, and doing things that expand the conversation of love, gratitude, and the possibility of oneness. While I can be just as bugged as the next cynical resigned person, I choose to continue to stretch myself and run my own business aligning with the Landmark Education principles and Sacred Commerce principles that Cafe Gratitude owners have written about.

I am aligned with and swim in the same conversation also sharing the opinion that it is an invitation and that means making sure to be very clear with employees or contractors what they are stepping into, even to the degree that potential managers are given a clear picture of the desired vision and mission that is being held. While all civilizations and cultures are an invention of some compelling faction that prevailed, there is also always reaction and resistance, as is one of the key principles in Sacred Commerce "Being the space for all of it" means just that "being a space for ALL of it." I would continue to invite employees to Landmark courses and expand and develop an even stronger internal training program to train managers and leadership as this is legal to require of employees when you have a training and development course that does not require money out of their own pocket as part of a requirement. I love and support my visionary Cafe Gratitude founder friends and hold the space that those who left or were asked to leave who are incomplete and upset have an opportunity to get complete and have their point of view respected, heard, and acknowledged so everyone is clear, left in good shape, and we can all keep playing in the experiment to do business differently. Remember that our country's founding fathers invented the current business paradigm. How that going?

With gratitude, love, and service,

Shoshana Frumkin, Berkeley

I am a Snitch?

In the working-class lingo it's called management searching for snitches.

Leo T.West, San Leandro

Thanks for Not Calling it a Cult

It would be easy to slap the cult label on Cafe Gratitude and its philosophical sugar daddy, the Landmark Forum. Thanks to Sam Levin for not going there. To do so would detract from the banal coercion that the "human potential movement" derivatives use to fleece to naive, well-intentioned people out of their hard-earned money.

Looking past Cafe Gratitude's pop psychology, you can see that its management structure is cunningly refined to create a workplace where every individual thinks that they are the only one feeling such earthly hindrances as wanting to keep their paycheck to pay their rent. The "no gossip" policy prevents them from realizing that they are not alone.

I commend Ash Ritter for having the presence of mind to realize what was going on and stand up to it. I also appreciate the spine that it took to use her real name and to go public with her story. This type of exploitation has a long history in the Bay Area. We need more whistle blowers in order to hold such crooked institutions accountable. For an excellent history of the human potential movement and its offshoots, see the BBC documentary, Century of the Self.


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