The Raw Vegan Village: your reaction

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Last week’s report, about a dream of enlightened eco living that turned into a nightmare, elicited a huge response in the comments section and I also received many private messages about it.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who’s taken the time to write in with their words of support and/or advice for those who lost money.

I also thank all those with email lists and Facebook pages who have shared this information with their contacts.

Those who lost money lost it only due to the belief that something like this could never happen in the alternative health community, so it’s essential we’re now all aware that it can, because it has.

A well-known health writer emailed me last week to say that when some of the information presented in this report came onto her radar two years ago she was concerned enough that she approached several other high-profile figures in the raw world essentially saying, “What can we do about this? We have to do something.”

And, as she wrote to me, “It was disheartening that none of them (big names) were at all interested in doing anything.”

I haven’t asked her who she’s talking about and I don’t particularly want to know. But I think it’s sad if there were people in a position to reduce the chances of this happening again, even if just by raising awareness, who instead chose to look the other way.

We’re often told that humans are driven by self-interest above all else, and behaviour like the above can make that appear true.

But it isn’t.

In her 2011 book The Bond, journalist Lynne McTaggart stacked up a mountain of scientific evidence proving it’s true only when we’re out of balance.

When we are healthy and in balance, we experience giving as one of our most pleasurable activites, and strongly dislike, and do what we can to prevent, any form of unfairness –  not just towards ourselves and those close to us, but even towards complete strangers.

And all of the above was beautifully demonstrated by your reaction to last week’s article.

And, quoting The Bond author Lynne McTaggart, here’s some really good news:

“Scientific studies show that in any society, if a culture of turn-taking falls apart with too many taking too much, all it requires is a small group of individuals committed to strong reciprocity to re-establish fairness and create a unified and highly cohesive community. [They have shown that] just a few instigators can transform an entire climate of greed and individualism to one of generosity and giving. Giving creates a contagion of giving, a network of ‘pay-it-forward’ altruism.

“For instance, one act of kindness spreads virally at least three degrees along a network, affecting your friends, your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends. When you become a spiritual activist for fairness, you can easily set off a contagion of good will.”

I for one hope that a Raw Vegan Village fund is set up so that those of us who wish to can donate to it or help raise money.

Not only for the practical assistance it would offer those who need it – though that alone would be reason enough – but also because of what it would set in motion energetically.

13 Comments

  • Beautifully put!! I have seen a good response from your first article but where are the countless raw leaders?? Shouldn’t they want to protect their fans from losing money on something like this?

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  • This inspired me: ‘For instance, one act of kindness spreads virally at least three degrees along a network, affecting your friends, your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends.’ Thank you for telling us about ‘The Bond’. I enjoyed The Field and The Intention Experiment by the same author.

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  • I think it was a little unfair of the ‘raw food promoter’ who contacted other leaders in expecting them to get involved and some how stop Storm. It was not their place to assume responsibility to intervene. There could have been other reasons too like the psychological ‘bystander effect’, fear of legal backlash, and not wanting to get involved because it was just none of their business. I remember seeing a documentary on Bernie Madoff and many people later came forward (ie. financial investors/advisors) who did smell a rat and suspect a ponzi scheme, but kept away from him because they didn’t have full proof and one person who did speak out about him was practically shot down in the financial community. People have many reasons why they don’t get involved with what doesn’t concern them. I think it’s a little unfair to judge that.

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    • Good point, Jane. There can be many reasons and we can’t know what they were here. But this party, who actually had the conversations – I don’t know all of the specifics – felt the reaction was disheartening in the circumstances and I guess I felt inclined to trust their instinct on that one. And to clarify, I don’t believe she expected anyone to intervene/somehow “stop” what was happening; just to be concerned enough to say yes, we must do *something* to prevent this from happening again…

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  • I wonder if the raw food movement (if you could call it that) has moved from a countercultural position to a ‘cutting-edge’ mainstream-slash-corporate position … and in so doing has lost its soul?

    Perhaps that is part of the reason why so few raw leaders are willing to speak out about the Raw Vegan Village? Maybe they want to preserve their new (lucrative) identity at all costs, even if some unfortunate individuals are victimised or ‘sacrificed’ along the way?

    The ‘positive thinking/magical/Law of Attraction’ element doesn’t help, either, when it encourages people to turn away from all that pesky ‘negativity’ in the papers and, in so doing, encourages lack of caring for each other and facilitates an escape into dreams of individual success.

    If these so-called leaders belong to a group that is to their advantage, then dissenting, criticial, or genuinely aggrieved voices from within their own community are the last thing they want to hear.

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  • PS I am thinking about raw ‘leaders’ who showed no sympathy or empathy with those who were burned by the RVV. Obviously, there are wonderful, caring people in the raw food world as well.

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  • It is sad and if they (Storm and his group) get away with fraud..I’ll blame the crazy system we have in place. Look how many have gone to jail for this stock fraud. I believe jail time is in order! Let the process begin!
    This man (Storm) is playing dumb, he is not a stupid person, trust me. He has learned to be a TAKER. Amen.

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  • “I wonder if the raw food movement (if you could call it that) has moved from a countercultural position to a ‚Äòcutting-edge’ mainstream-slash-corporate position ‚Ķ and in so doing has lost its soul? ” RM yes I feel this has definitly happened and continues to happen…

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  • I would be grossly disappointed if those who caused this situation were not held accountable, as happy as I would be to see those caught up in it reimbursed.

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  • I invested in the spa, it was a couple of thousands of dollars though, but still it was my money. Every now and again I receive an email from Jinjee updating us on how she plans on repaying us with interest. I am still waiting. I know they have their programs to become raw and lose weight and it seems like it is bombing. I wish they would just pay people back with that money.

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  • I have been on Storm and Jinjee’s mailing list for about 5 or 6 years. As a subscriber I got info about the eco-village from the get-go and was invited to be an early investor. I knew immediately that this venture would be a non-starter. Just looking at their website and their raw food plans showed me that S&J do not know how to professionalize their products. Based on that, it seemed clear to me to me that if they couldn’t put together a professional-looking e-book, how could they put together a multi-million dollar real estate venture? The answer is, sadly, that they couldn’t.

    I like their very low-tech approach to raw food–no superfoods, no dehydrators–just fresh, raw food. (I do use supplements, however). Several years ago I bought a couple of their raw food plans, which I still use. THAT is what they know about. They should have expended effort in professionalizing those diet plans and their website. They could have charged more for their products if they had hired a good copy editor and gotten some advice on how to put out professional-looking e-books.

    Even if I wanted to live in an intentional community like a raw eco-village, it would be not one run by Storm, who seems to view himself as a renaissance man with a rather inflated belief in his own abilities in every endeavor he undertakes. I see real hubris in him. That is not the sort of person to lead a community or to entrust with lots of money.

    S & J know nothing about pulling together a real estate venture involving millions upon millions of dollars and tons of legal issues like permits, zoning, roads, water, utilities, right of way. Major real estate developments are generally funded by corporations or by real estate investment trusts, not by individuals. Certainly not by individuals who solicit money from others for a business venture and then co-mingle the funds with their own monies, as Sarah reported in her article. That is just shocking financial malfeasance. It almost sounds like a Ponzi scheme.

    It’s really sad, and I feel bad for the people who invested the money. I hope they can get their money back, but it doesn’t seem very likely, sad to say.

    Thanks for your investigative reportage, Sarah. I found it fascinating and sobering reading.

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