Thursday, July 13, 2006

Help the HotHouse

Here's a Draft Letter, posted in the comments, for those interested in helping Chicago's HotHouse through its current crisis. The list of signers, as of the time it was deliverd to the Board yesterday, is posted down in the comments--Carl Davidson


Carl Davidson said...


To: Board Members, CIPEX/Hot House of Chicago

Martin Bishop, President; Luis Diaz Perez, Vice President;
Rochelle Gordon, Secretary Paul McEntee, Treasurer
Lolita Sereleas Marguerite Horberg
Bruce Robbins Linda Michaels
Angela Spinazze

Dear Members of the Board of the Center for International Performance and Exhibition:

The undersigned represent a broad cross-section of HotHouse corporate and foundation contributors, patrons, members, collaborators and media supporters and cultural organizations, many of whom have made significant investment in the growth and development of the organization since its establishment in 1987.

As key HotHouse stakeholders, we write to express our concern for, and commitment to, the future of this remarkable institution in Chicago. We are deeply troubled by the reports, from multiple sources, of significant discord within the leadership of the organization. Many of us have witnessed similar struggles that sadly have resulted in the demise of other important institutions. We are communicating our concerns with the strong desire to prevent this from occurring again, particularly in a climate where the impact of such a management dispute casts a shadow on the operation of other fragile, yet essential, cultural resources in Chicago. While internally the events of recent weeks may appear to impact a closed universe, we want to underscore the implications that the current dispute potentially can have for the financial support and confidence of the funding community, and others, for all those presenting jazz, world music and a welcoming space for diverse cultural traditions to be experienced.

HotHouse is a unique cultural institution, not just in Chicago but the nation. The breadth of music that is presented there is unmatched by any institution of its size anywhere in the United States and perhaps the world. And it must be acknowledged that the success of HotHouse would not have been possible without the unique vision of Marguerite Horberg.

At present, we know that jazz receives only a small percentage of the dollars contributed to support music in the metropolitan Chicago area. We are fearful of the potential impact negative publicity surrounding the HotHouse conflict may have on current efforts to increase such funding. It is our respect for all those who have contributed to the growth of HotHouse (Board and notably its founder), that compels us to seriously urge consideration of strategies that will result in reasonable and equitable resolution of the issues. We seek not to place blame, rather, to ensure mutually acceptable solutions can be identified to ensure the long term wellbeing of the organization. We fully recognize
HotHouse Board of Directors

and support the authority of a board to oversee the management of the organization. While there can often be honest differences of opinion as to the best way in which to exercise that oversight, we strongly encourage full, open discussion to help ensure that this organization fulfills its responsibilities to the community and retains the confidence of donors and others critical to the future of the organization.

To achieve this, we further advocate an approach that holds as a central principle transparency and objectivity. We recognize there are complicated issues, with charged emotions that make resolution difficult. As this is the case, we firmly believe that to ensure its future, HotHouse should commit itself to engage an objective, external facilitator. Such an approach can, together with forthright participation of all parties to the issues, produce a constructive review. We believe this will result in an appropriate course of action that will respect the acknowledged needs for a secure future for HotHouse and identify strategies and actions to address management and governance concerns of the respective parties. Working with established organizations such as the Donor’s Forum of Chicago or the Arts and Business Council, such a facilitator can be easily identified. The costs, if any that pertain, will be covered by a donor that chooses at this time to remain anonymous, but would step forward once such action has been committed.

In closing, we once again advocate for a thoughtful, deliberate process to resolve this crisis. The implications, as outlined, go beyond HotHouse, and can reverberate for years to come. The signatories of the letter represent many more who echo our concerns. Thus we hope for a mature and thoughtful examination of what has been achieved in HotHouse’s history, and what may be lost if measured action is not pursued.



This document may contain confidential and privileged material for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). Any review, use, distribution or disclosure by others is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient (or authorized to receive for the recipient), please contact the sender and destroy all copies of this message.

Anonymous said...

Please add the following two signatures to the letter

Lisa Brock, Chairperson, Department of Liberal Education, Columbia College Chicago

Mark Kelly, VP for Student Affairs, Columbia College Chicago

Anonymous said...

Please add my signature to the letter.
Roger Noel,Former V.P HotHouse Board.

Anonymous said...

Please add Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Vice President of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Anonymous said...

please add
Barbara Ransby, Associate Professor of African American Studie, University of Illinois at Chicago

Anonymous said...

Please add:

Ernest Dawkins, Musician

President Chicag Creative Arts


Adminstrator: Live The Spirit

Residency/Englewood Jazz Festival,inc.

Anonymous said...

Please add my signature to the letter:
The HotHouse is a unique entity which encourages and inspires cultural growth. PLEASE don't let this one-of-a-kind resource be destroyed.
Nora Brooks Blakely

Anonymous said...

Please add my name:
Dushun Mosley
Treasurer AACM

The Hot House has been one of the most important music venues in Chicago supporting all types of music. We can not let this institution close.

Anonymous said...

Please add
Mr.Don Meckley
Director of Production and Facilities, MCA, and CIPEX/
Hothouse donor
and Mrs. Rose Parisi

Anonymous said...

Please add my signature to the letter.
Eunita Rushing, President, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance
300 N. Central Park, Chicago 60624

Carl Davidson said...

Here's a list of the signers as of the time the letter was delivered to the Board meeting. --CarlD

David Roche, Executive Director, The Old Town School of Folk Music
Roger Noel, Former V.P HotHouse Board.
Lynn Stevenson Company Manager Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
Lisa Brock, Chairperson, Department of Liberal Education, Columbia College Chicago
Mark Kelly, VP for Student Affairs, Columbia College Chicago
Michelle Uting, Former Board Member
Nancy Myers, Former Board Member
Mike Quattrocki, Former Board Member
Lola Pfeiffer Bales, Artist
Barbara Ransby, Associate Professor of African American Studies, U of Ill Chicago
Rickie Thomas, Former Board Member
Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Vice President of the Illinois Humanities Council.
Lauren Deutsch, Executive Director Jazz Institute of Chicago
Steven Saltzman, President Jazz Institute Of Chicago
Amanieya Payne, Artist
Dee Alexander, Artist
Joan Gray, President Muntu Dance Company
Laura Sampson, Executive Director The Alphawood Foundation
Sunny Fisher, Executive Director The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
Jeanne Kracher, Executive Director The CrossRoads Fund
Amina Dickerson, Kraft Foods
Marilyn Katz, President MK communications
Carl Davidson, Networking for Democracy
Pat Gleason, Salsedo Press
Christine Geovanis, Former Board President /CIPEX
Diane Chandler-Marshall Director, Cultural ArtsChicago Public Schools
Barbara Allen, Former Board Member

Anonymous said...

To: The Supporters of HotHouse Who Signed This Draft Letter And The Similar Letter We Received Yesterday.

On behalf of the Board, I want to thank you for your continued support and concern for HotHouse. I want to assure you all that we are doing everything possible to ensure that HotHouse continues in the tradition of excellence that you and all of Chicago are accustomed to. We are constantly in need of assistance and are currently looking for individuals faithful to the HotHouse mission and who have the time and energy to devote to this incredible institution. If any of you would like to participate as a volunteer, be considered for Board membership, or get involved at any level, please contact me directly at: I will personally address your request and/or ensure that your it is directed through the appropriate channel.

Thanks again. I personally look forward to working with any or all of you who wish to take on a more active role in this incredible organization.


For your information, what follows is a redacted version of the memorandum we sent to Marguerite Horberg today:


TO: Marguerite Horberg

FROM: Executive Board of Directors of HotHouse

DATE: July 14, 2006

RE: HotHouse Executive Board Meeting of July 13, 2006

Dear Marguerite:

This is to inform you of the results of a motion that we passed at yesterday’s Board meeting. Our duty and decision was not entered into lightly. On the contrary, there was a thoughtful, lengthy and deliberate discussion of issues ranging from the financial, structural, and legal issues that HotHouse faces, to the personal regret we all feel and heartfelt concern both for you, individually and professionally, and for HotHouse. As we all know, HotHouse is a unique cultural institution that has greatly enhanced the musical and cultural life of Chicago, and even the nation. We acknowledge – as we always have – that without your vision and hard work over the years, HotHouse would not have been possible.

We particularly regret that there was no response of any kind to the offer that the Board unanimously agreed to on July 6, 2006. It is our collective belief that the road to resolution of issues typically involves an open discussion with the goodwill and forthright participation of all parties. The Board has abided by these principles, discussing these issues in our official capacity only in Board meetings that have been scheduled according to the bylaws. We have welcomed objective third parties that you personally selected and invited to attend Board meetings. We were disappointed to learn that, in fact, there have been closed meetings and conversations facilitated by you, the existence of which was kept from the majority of the Board. We are equally disappointed and perplexed that you have chosen to participate in these types of discussions with individuals who do not have a complete understanding of the situation. It is our considered belief that the most productive form of communication would be one that involves a direct dialogue between you and the Board.

The majority of Board members present voted for the following motion and proclamation. There were no dissenting votes and one abstention. The motion and proclamation is as follows:

[R E D A C T E D R E D A C T E D R E D A C T E D R E D A C T E D R E D A C T E D R E D A C T E D]. The Board has adopted the model of dual leadership, meaning that going forward, the position of the Executive Director will have responsibility for setting the artistic vision of HotHouse, informing its programming, developing and cultivating donor relationships, and leading the grant-writing and fundraising efforts. The other leadership position of Business Director will have responsibility for the financial, operational and administrative management of the organization. Both of these positions will report to the Board of Directors. The Board fully expects that the individuals filling these positions will work closely together to set the course for the future success of HotHouse.

The position of Executive Director remains open to Marguerite until it is otherwise filled. The Board has no short-term intention to fill the position but rather remains focused on the search for a Business Director, among other things. The Board sincerely hopes that Marguerite will accept the offer to be HotHouse’s Executive Director.

The Board respects and values the decades of experience and insights that Marguerite brings. The Board would welcome the input and participation of Marguerite as more of the details of this dual leadership model are fleshed out during the upcoming planning and implementation phase. The Board also continues to remain open to engaging in a facilitation process with an objective, external facilitator to help pave the way toward better communications between Marguerite and the Board.

The Board re-affirms its dedication to the future success of HotHouse, and states that it is taking this action because, after extensive discussion and debate, it in the best interests of the organization.

The Board deeply regrets that this step had to be taken. For nearly a year, we have all had multiple discussions about the value of the Executive Director-Business Director model. It is our collective understanding that you had agreed that adopting such a model would be beneficial for HotHouse, from a financial and managerial perspective, as well as providing you with the opportunity to focus on those skills and strengths that are your forte, namely your artistic vision, protection and advancement of the HotHouse mission, and entrepreneurial spirit. Although your current posture vis-à-vis the Board is in direct opposition with the notion that you at one time agreed in principle with this change in direction, we continue to seek a reasonable and equitable solution that includes your input and cooperation. The Board remains committed to seeing HotHouse through this difficult stage in its lifecycle. We remain optimistic that HotHouse will emerge from its current situation a stronger, more solid institution. It would be stronger yet with your participation.

We reiterate that we look forward – not backward – and that none of these measures or any aspect of our intentions are punitive or blameful in any way. We are dedicated to the long-term wellbeing of HotHouse, and this sincere and unwavering concern easily overshadows any difficult emotions that may have been felt or expressed in the past.

Out of respect for HotHouse and for your professional reputation within the community, we have attempted to be discrete about recent events and the current situation at HotHouse. We remain dedicated to protecting the reputation of HotHouse as a prominent cultural institution. We encourage you to exercise appropriate discretion in the future with respect to information you release regarding HotHouse. It is our solemn duty to protect HotHouse from damaging misinformation and from actions that affect HotHouse’s reputation in the community.

Again, please feel free to contact any of us with questions, comments, concerns or suggestions. As always, our doors remain open to direct communication. Please take advantage of this policy. We sincerely hope that you continue on as Executive Director, and that we all work together for the next 20 years of success at HotHouse.

Anonymous said...

To the board of HotHouse: Why are you repeatedly resisting a public meeting and the scutiny of the public that you allegedly represent if your actions are well intentioned and with merit? What exactly is the basis for this hostility and extreme behavior that flies in the face of the will of the community? Your further actions against the Executive Director were taken after the community advised you to the contrary. These reckless and provacative actions will continue at your peril

Anonymous said...

we understand that there are really only 4 people who claim they are on the board that is creating the distruction of HotHouse- does anyone know these people? why don't they just resign and let some other people who love the place get involved?

Anonymous said...

lifelong patron says:
I started visiting hothouse on milwaukee avenue - do these idiots know how hard it is to keep a place like this going this long? Horburg should be given a medal of honor not this kind of treatment -what fuckers

jazzzzzzzzzz said...

My ensemble has performed at the HotHouse. I am also a patron and a member.

The Hothouse does face challenges, but not as a result of its board of directors. I know many musicians in Chicago. While Marguerite's vision for this institution is legendary and well known in the arts community, she is far from perfect. None of us are. Let us at least be honest with ourselves and others about this truth.

From what I see here, and what I have heard in the last several weeks, the board wants Marguerite to remain with the organization due to her creative vision and the belief that liberating her from the boring business/administrative aspects of the Hothouse will liberate her to take that vision to new heights - thus enriching the Hothouse and making it strong, healthy, vibrant, and able to survive for furture generations.

What is sad and pathetic is the ignorant condemnation of the efforts its board is making on behalf of the organization. Can anyone of you who has posted here, including all those signatories to the "letter" honestly say they know what goes on behind the scenes?.

I am very disappointed in the integrity of those who jump to judgment without the benefit of the facts. The person who left the post using the "f" word to refer to the people on the board and also Carl Davidson - you should all be ashamed and embarrased. You clearly have not considered the possbility that you have been mislead by the only person with a financial interest in this drama i.e. Ms. Horberg. You have disparaged this board, a group of volunteers, based on misinformation and the hysteria of its executive director - who I suspect is the author of some of the annomous posts.

Shame, shame on all of you.

Chris Geovanis said...

Interesting that the last writer decried the anonymity of other posters -- and then failed to muster the spine to name him/herself. It also bears noting that the board faction that has suspended executive director Marguerite Horberg without pay and has fomented the crisis that threatens HotHouse' survival today has failed utterly in its most basic responsibility -- namely to raise funds for the organization.

This core failure of mission and responsibility persists literally as we speak; this week a member of the anti-Horberg board faction made a unilateral decision not to apply for a grant that HotHouse had been invited to seek -- and which the board prevented Ms. Horberg from completing herself. The board member's purported reasoning for failing to file the application? The grant was not a 'good fit'.

There is no doubt that there are issues across the range of the institution -- as there are in virtually every organization, public or private. But issues like staff raises would more likely have happy outcomes if the current board faction had spent its time in recent months raising funds for the organization, rather than impeding HotHouse's grantmaking efforts.

Instead, this board faction has chosen to repeatedly ignore appeals from HotHouse's friends, donors and other board members past and present to hold open meetings, engage in a process of unbiased mediation, and reinstate the executive director in order to minimize ongoing harm to the organization.

Actions speak louder than words -- and tragically the actions of this board faction are not actions that place the well-being of HotHouse ahead of any personal disputes between this faction and Ms. Horberg.

The board could, of course, still choose to adjust its course and move forward on the very reasonable proposals outlined in the letter that jumpstarts this thread. They could begin by reinstating Ms. Horberg so she can get on with the work of preserving this vital institution. They should follow that immediately by reinstating board members who've been unilaterally removed in recent months to secure their 'majority' stake on the board, by opening their meetings, and by bringing on board a facilitator that can move the situation beyond the current impasse to a just and healthy resolution of this unfortunate crisis.

Chris Geovanis said...

Interesting that the last writer decried the anonymity of other posters -- and then failed to muster the spine to name him/herself. It also bears noting that the board faction that has suspended executive director Marguerite Horberg without pay and has fomented the crisis that threatens HotHouse' survival today has failed utterly in its most basic responsibility -- namely to raise funds for the organization.

This core failure of mission and responsibility persists literally as we speak; this week a member of the anti-Horberg board faction made a unilateral decision not to apply for a grant that HotHouse had been invited to seek -- and which the board prevented Ms. Horberg from completing herself. The board member's purported reasoning for failing to file the application? The grant was not a 'good fit'.

There is no doubt that there are issues across the range of the institution -- as there are in virtually every organization, public or private. But issues like staff raises would more likely have happy outcomes if the current board faction had spent its time in recent months raising funds for the organization, rather than impeding HotHouse's grantmaking efforts.

Instead, this board faction has chosen to repeatedly ignore appeals from HotHouse's many friends, donors and other board members past and present to hold open meetings, engage in a process of unbiased mediation, and reinstate the executive director in order to minimize ongoing harm to the organization.

Actions speak louder than words -- and tragically the actions of this board faction are not actions that place the well-being of HotHouse ahead of any personal disputes between this faction and Ms. Horberg.

The board could, of course, still choose to adjust its course and move forward on the very reasonable proposals outlined in the letter that jumpstarts this thread. They could begin by reinstating Ms. Horberg so she can get on with the work of preserving this vital institution. They should follow that immediately by reinstating the board members they've unilaterally removed in recent months to secure their 'majority' stake on the board, by opening their meetings, and by bringing on board a facilitator that can move the situation beyond the current impasse to a just and healthy resolution of this unfortunate crisis.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone name the executive director personally responsible for the financial mess HotHouse is currently facing?

Anonymous said...

The Hothouse has only had one Executive Director!!! Marguerite Horberg. Go girl!

Anonymous said...

Dear Marty,

In response to your solicitation for volunteers I would like to tell you and the fellow board members again that I am willing, waiting and ready to be of service to HotHouse.

For the last two years I have consistently offerred my time and skills as a volunteer member of the Development Committee for the Operations Board. My efforts have gone unutilized. I have seen countless volunteers come in to our meetings with a zest and passion for the continued advancement of HotHouse only to find that the Executive Board did not display strong enough leadership skills to maximize volunteer interest.

As a life long Chicagoan, artist, patron, young urban professional and HotHouse friend I offer my services yet again. I certainly hope that the Executive Board Officer that chairs development along with your leadership is now ready to take advantage of my skill set, commitment and interest.

I have been extraordinarily discouraged by the lack of leadership that has existed on the board. I am ready, willing and able to do all that I can to see the continued success of HotHouse be celebrated.

Development is critical to the success of any organization. If under your leadership the executive board members are not skilled or committed enough to identify and utilize talented and interested volunteers than perhaps this is an opportunity for a restructuring of the entire board.

Again despite our difference of opinion I offer my volunteer efforts again. HotHouse is more than a music venue to me it is a community center. Many of my most valued relationships developed out of time spent at HotHouse.

I hope you can expiditiously find an appropriate opportunity for me to assist in the advancement and future of HotHouse.

Warm regards,

Lola Pfeiffer Bales

Anonymous said...

On behalf of many exboard members and volunteers -We are prepared to step onto the board and replace Martin Bishop, Lolita Sereleas and Rochelle Gordon whose terms expired in 2005 -How are these people even legitimatley configured to make any decsions. The public should beware of a secret meeting and vote to extend their terms

Anonymous said...

To: Signers of the Letter sent to Board Members posted here, “corporate and foundation contributors, patrons, members, collaborators and media supporters and cultural organizations”.

As Members of the Executive Board of CIPEX/HotHouse, we want to thank you all for contacting us and for expressing your concern for and commitment to the future of one of Chicago’s truly remarkable cultural organizations. We too are distressed with the current lack of transparency and destructive nature of recent decisions taken by others on the Board. We agree with, and have voiced our desire for, the approach you suggest; one that puts aside differences, and places at the center of our discourse, the best interests and needs of the organization and those who work, perform, and gather there. We continue to seek a constructive solution to a most unpleasant situation.

We welcome a conversation with any of you about how we might turn this situation around and move forward in a constructive and supportive manner. We welcome a meeting with an objective outside facilitator. If any of you are able to put yourselves forward for consideration to join the Board, we would be most appreciative. Please feel free to contact any of us through this channel of communication or via email. Our contact details are available below.

Again, many thanks for your support. We look forward to talking with you soon.

Bruce Robbins, Angela T. Spinazze

Bruce Robbins

Angela T. Spinazze

Anonymous said...

I'm confused - who actually voted for Marguerite's suspension. Today's article in the Tribune doesn't specify and the blog posting by Bruce Robbins and Angela Spinazze doesn't mention that they voted either one way or another or how the others voted although Martin Bishop says it was unanimous. The other anonymous poster mentioned that some board members weren't even current members- Can someone who is on the "board" explain - Another thing I don't understand is if everyone is calling for an open meeting and new people to get involved -why isn't this happening? Is it true as well that Marguerite has been banned from HotHouse? That is just insane? I hope this gets straitened out soon- Best to all in what must be a terrible situation- Lonnie Spivak

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to Marguerite. Without you there would be no Hothouse. I hope you have the energy to keep your vision going, if not at Hothouse then at another Intenational House house of music.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand why Marguerite does not take the board up on their offer that she continue to be the artistic director? Can anyone explain why this is not acceptable?

Anonymous said...

Who are these board members anyway? Do any of them actually ever attend performances at HotHouse? Makes me wonder about their motivation.

Anonymous said...

I've seen board members at shows.

Anonymous said...

The mission of The Center for International Performance and Exhibition (CIPEX) is to expose audiences to a wide range of cultural expression, to encourage respect of our ethnic diversity, and to promote a greater understanding of differing artistic traditions and perspectives.

As Founder and Executive Director of The Center and International Performance and Exhibition, I have dedicated myself for over twenty years to building this organization from an idea into an internationally renowned non-profit cultural institution.

As has been publicly announced elsewhere, this July, I was suspended from my position as Executive Director and banned from the premises of HotHouse, Further my staff has been visited by the board chair and informed of this fact while I was away attending a board approved Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders in the Arts at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. This irony has not been lost on the many concerned supporters that read that I have been suspended for not accepting a demotion to “artistic director and fundraiser”

At no time have I been given any specific list of grievances in my performance as Executive Director, or any opportunity to address or cure the same before I was suspended as would be accorded to anyone else in my position, let alone the founder of the organization on whose Board these trustees now serve.

During two decades of public service I have fostered the growth of CIPEX by initiating the non-profit structure under which we operate, and thereby starting the board of directors and inviting onto that Board persons who could serve to duly exercise their responsibilities as Board members in accordance with the bylaws of the organization, the charter of the State of Illinois and to help and support the mission and purpose of CIPEX.

In those many years there have been hundreds of staff, board members, committee members, volunteers, members, donors, patrons, artists and collaborators who have made the institution what it is today. As a community, we have come together to create one of the most beloved grassroots cultural centers on the planet and served over 1 million people who have attended over 7,000 events since 1987- when we began.

We built HotHouse on a shoe string without much money, with volunteer labor, with second hand furnishings, donated art work and plenty of spirit and love.

In each chapter of growth as well as the adversity known to all small businesses – the public came together to lend support, expertise, a turn at the wheel and extend an outstretched hand to get us to the next level. When HotHouse took the lead in raising money last year for musicians affected by Katrina - relief came in from our colleagues around the world. It has been this interconnectedness to our global community that has been our hallmark and success.

Yet sadly, in the past four months, four members of the board of directors have presumed to speak for this extended family and assume the dictate and direction of the organization. They have made a series of uncorroborated allegations of personal misconduct in my role as Executive Director, made serious unsubstantiated allegations that I have misappropriated company funds for personal use which have been shown to be false, and most recently released to the public a memorandum that states that as a result of a “thoughtful, lengthy and deliberate discussion of issues ranging from the financial, structural, and legal issues that HotHouse faces …I have been suspended from my position indefinitely without pay. While they state that this serious motion was carried by a unanimous vote, indeed it was not.

In fact, in response to the Board’s decision to suspend me, a fellow board member Bruce Robbins wrote a strongly worded protest letter to the board requesting: that I be reinstated in my position, and that an open facilitated meeting be held immediately. His request that was enjoined by three other board members was rejected.

This letter was then followed by a letter written to the entire board by key stakeholders in the organization, including many of the major donors and long term supporters and delivered by messenger to the July 13 board meeting. This letter was initially ignored then responded to publicly in the memorandum cited above which moved to ambiguously remove me from my post. Further the memorandum states that “we were disappointed to learn that, in fact there have been closed meetings and conversations facilitated by you the existence of which has been kept from the majority of the board”

On the contrary, board members Angela Spinazze and Luis Diaz Perez have frequently objected to the both the time and place of past meetings that have prevented their participation and together all four of us have been an advocate of a democratic and transparent process that repeatedly sought an open facilitation process that would salve the current tensions and indeed prevent the current crisis.

Further we have many unanswered concerns around issues of board governance including: an apparent conflict of interest with the board chair that also is the organizations legal advisor and the lack of elections or regard for term limits for the directors and the way one long time member was removed as director. In spite of these numerous written and verbal objections, this group of four has acted blithely deflected every attempt to democratize the board and has persisted to pretend it is speaking for the public when indeed it has only speaking for a considered minority.

While publicly the board chair and a faction of the board has indicted in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune that this debate simply revolves around a question of hiring a business manager and rewriting my job title and responsibilities, it does not.

I have been proactively developing the organization from its inception and have sought every opportunity to professionalize the institution. In fact earlier this year I developed a program with the Kelly School of Business at University of Indiana and hired an MBA student interim business manager who was tasked to integrate the newly created position into the culture of the organization and make the transition to a fulltime hire by the fall. While proactively advocating for a split in responsibilities I have also maintained that I am more than capable to continue as the chief executive officer that would supervise this newly created position and moreover that I am more equipped to do that than a board that has zero experience in this business.

I am able to substantiate that qualification by pointing to my tenure as director where I have stewarded the phenomenal growth of this business which currently is at an annual average of 8% a year. HotHouse operates with an annual budget of +1.8 million dollars, 85% is derived from earned income revenues in an industry where 50%-60% is standard, and in an industry where returns are flat or negative.

While the institution has never been supported by any capital investments (except the furnishings and other material assets I brought to it), and I have been the principal development officer in addition to my many other duties, I have been able to produce net income the last several years, retire substantial start up debts, reduce liabilities year over year, grow the organization from 1 paid full time staff person to 8, and generally outperform the industry and local competitors in the field.

I have recruited and mentored all of the seven senior staff, creating a dynamic team, all of whom were recruited because of their zeal for the mission and my discernment of their inherent creative talent. In addition to my duties I have dedicated significant time to training and mentoring this staff that had little expertise in the field prior to their work at the center. And in this regard I chose to make a substantial contribution to building and cultivating the next generation of arts leaders.

Together we have over the years and under my leadership developed a reputation for award winning quality and innovative programming, and a city wide audience of diverse demographic and socio-economic range that reflects the mission.

This personal dedication has earned me some of the highest awards and accolades bestowed to persons working in this field including the Excellence in Arts Management Award, numerous Best of Chicago awards, and Chicagoan of the Year. I am indeed respected around the world in the arts community as a leader in this industry.

As the leading and often only fundraiser in the organization, I have marshaled personal contacts to host successful gala events and been the sole author of the numerous applications to philanthropic donors, responsible for increasing contributions from this sector on average of 8%, again the average when a development professional is not employed, growth is anticipated at less than 5%. Last year in addition to my duties, I raised over $200,000 in unearned income while the board contributed a total of $300 dollars even though there is in place “give or get” policy.

And while the current board has contributed an enormous contribution of time and sweat equity including many thousands of dollars in pro bono legal services, it has failed to organize any fundraising activities or successfully incorporate the talent of the many dozens of volunteers that have expressed a persistent desire to either join the board or join a volunteer committee. In fact this small group had dwindled down to just 4 board members at the beginning year in spite of the efforts by the public to become active.

Next year HotHouse will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Throughout the past months I have been an ardent proponent of organizing a series of events to commemorate that historic watershed moment.

As of August 11, Brady Meisenhelder, the back of house manager and Adam Rees, the interim business manager will have resigned, and there will be no effective leadership at HotHouse nor any plan to run the organization except by the continued rule and instruction of four board members who have no experience in running this complex organization. This does not have the appearance of a sound business strategy or course of action.

It is in the best interests of HotHouse and CIPEX that the Board immediately seek a facilitator with considered experience in non-profit organizational development/arts to help resolve the differences that have lead to this critical situation and that the Board immediately reinstate me retroactive to the date of suspension as Executive Director under the job description I have operated under. Further it is crucial that the stakeholders who have made considerable investment throughout the development of the organization be allowed to return to a position of trusteeship and replace the members whose terms have expired. These steps are essential if we are to restore public confidence in the institution and move forward in a constructive way to continue the valuable work of HotHouse.

Marguerite Horberg
HotHouse Founder and Executive Director

Anonymous said...

Good Lord! This is certainly proof that no good deed goes unpunished. I am choosing to post this anonymously because I do not need the barage of ugliness Marguerite and her "friends" will heap upon those who dare to find fault with her. My evidence - all you got a do is read this blog! In any event, I sure know, having been humilated in front of my peers in the past as a former employee of the Hothouse ( there are a number of us, so I guess some of you will simply have to guess which one!.)

Here is the truth: (1) The emperor does not wear any clothes (See's_New_Clothes) ; and (2) The employees at the Hothouse are pleased that the majority of the board took action to fix the dysfunction ( Horberg is the dysfunction) before it destroyed the Hothouse. Yes, its true. She created the Hothouse - you know - sometimes a "mother" is a good mom when the baby is a baby and a really bad mom when the baby becomes a teenager. Just because she is the founder does not mean she must be placed on some pedestal, never criticised, and never held to the same standard as other executive employees.

This blog is one giant temper tantrum - I sure hope that is abundatly clear to anyone unfortunate enough to have encountered it. Think I will have to have a talk with the person that sent me the link!) One last word: YUK!

Chris Geovanis said...

People who toss rocks at the allegedly naked person in the allegedly glass house in this discussion should have the moral fortitude to speak honestly and openly -- instead of hiding behind a veil of anonymity.

That said, I find it fascinating that the anti-HotHouse faction continues to resort to innuendo without factually backing up their concerns. I've seen Horberg accused of 'crimes' that range from not being sufficiently 'nice' (a crime only women, rather than men, seem to commit), to collecting 'additional' and unearned salary -- a bogus charge that has been wholly refuted.

Ironically, while the board faction fights for domination over Ms. Horberg's personality traits, the organization languishes leaderless, and fundraising -- one of the board's most crucial responsibilities -- continues to founder. Speaking of leadership, employment and finances, one wonders if Mr. Bishop's lawfirm employers are copasetic that he’s spending so much of his workday engaging in a pattern of behavior that could ultimately end up destroying one of the city’s most important cultural institutions – particularly when his effort is trafficking back to Ms. Horberg on his lawfirm’s stationary.

Finally, the board to date has failed to raise funds for the ‘business manager’ position that they publicly insist is the major point of dispute between them and Horberg. In the last week, they’ve also failed to file for at least one grant that HotHouse was invited to submit. I’d like to know what this board faction plans to do about funding for the organization. Their recent track record, and their magical thinking about bankrolling new positions without a plan to pay for them, don’t bode well for the practicality – or the honesty – of their assertions.

Super finally, these folks in the board faction seeking to oust the insufficiently servile Ms. Horberg are sticklers, apparently, for legality. One wonders, then, why they continue to tout themselves as board members, since their terms expired in 2005. Perhaps they think they should be allowed to stay on because they've done such a stellar job ensuring the organization's ongoing financial solvency and organizational health. Oh, wait. They haven't raised a dime for HotHouse for at least the last year.

I’d like to know what the board faction’s answer to that little canard is.

Anonymous said...

Whoever posted the last comment was right on. I was going to use my name but then though - better not!

I wonder if Marguerite thought it would be kept a secret forever? I use to work there too! I loved the place, but damn if I could stand the way that woman would bully people. I use to hear her put down some of those people who signed the letter that started this blog. Talk about a pandora's box. Well, I use to go there and now I think I will go back. Perhaps even become a member!

Anonymous said...

Just noticed someone posted something at the same exact moment I posted. The person who is right on - not that Chris person. The other one before her. I do admire the loyalty of her friends though. I sure hope mine would be willing to go to bat for me even if they have no idea whether negative stuff is true. That is what friends are for . . . hmmmm. I think I should think about that one.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I worked at the HotHouse too. I still go there because I love the music, like to see my friends who work there and they have the best and most knowledgeable bartenders in town.

I have a new job and can't afford to have anyone make trouble for me. I wish I could come out with my name, but honestly, I am too apprehensive about it.

Chris Geovanis has not been involved with the Hothouse in many, many years. She is not a member of the board. She is not a Hothouse employee or a consultant. She is a friend of Marguerite Horberg. Her statements here are untruthful. All of her statements are based on information provided to her by others. She is being used.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can say anything in a blog - but how cowardly to not put your name on it as others have had the courage to do- that way facts can be checked which they cannot when slander and innuendo and baseless rumors continue to damage a stellar career- how many of the "haters' here would have ever even attempted what Horberg has been able to pull off- Its clear that you all are board members continuing to try and score your sad points and destroy Hothouse- otherwise why not identify yourself? Yusef Saladeen

Anonymous said...

My thought is that the Hothouse is bigger than any one person. Even Marguerite. I don't get the feeling that she recognizes that.

Elana said...

Looks to me like that it is the so called advocates of the Hothouse, those singing the praises of its executive director, and Ms. Horberg hereself, are the only ones who have posted a single negative fact about Ms. Horberg.

For example, Horberg is the one that published the fact - here at this blog - the fact she was suspended. Horberg is the one who mentioned to the newspaper - Tribune something about being accused of misapproriation of funds. Of course this requires taking the time to read - something that Horberg's little "burning down the hothouse guerilla warfare style" allies know but conviently ignore. I dare anyone to read and quote a single negative sentence in the one letter posted by the board president here. They won't be able to cause it is not there! Here is a section I copied from it and pasted below:

"Out of respect for HotHouse and for your professional reputation within the community, we have attempted to be discrete about recent events and the current situation at HotHouse. We remain dedicated to protecting the reputation of HotHouse as a prominent cultural institution. We encourage you to exercise appropriate discretion in the future with respect to information you release regarding HotHouse. It is our solemn duty to protect HotHouse from damaging misinformation and from actions that affect HotHouse’s reputation in the community."

How about this - the crisis - from what I have read here and seen in the paper - is one created and flamed by Marguerite and her hate monger friends. They cry - oh without her it dies. To this I say BS!

I am just a patron. A nobody. I work for an insurance company and live in the south loop community. I am really pissed off that this situation has been made into the drama it has become. If the Hothouse suffers due to it -be clear , its Horberg, Carl Davidson, Chris Geo ...whatever, etc who spread their ugly venom. It would not surprise me if I am accused of an agenda. It seems to be their nature. No wonder former employees who post here are reluctant to identify themselves.

Elana Hernandez

Chris Geovanis said...

Anonymous needs to check his/her facts. I most recently consulted with HotHouse staff on media issues just weeks before Horberg left for Stanford on a board-approved trip, and have consulted with or worked directly with the space and its employees since the organization's inception, in areas that range from communications work to directly organizing events.

Perhaps 'anonymous' recalls the International Women's Day event held at HotHouse earlier this year. Perhaps he/she'd like to talk to the program manager at the time to confirm my involvement in organizing that action. For that matter, anonymous is welcome to contact me -- but not anonymously, please -- for a summary of my collaboration with the space and staff over the last five years, alone.

Then again, I'm not the issue here, and while I'm happy to refute misinformation, distortion and bogus rumor-mongering, I'd submit that concerned and principled friends of HotHouse will not be misled by these sorts of efforts to misdirect public scrutiny of the core issues at hand -- particularly the board faction's recent actions.

Yet it’s this sort of misinformation from 'anonymous' that has characterized the spin in this discussion put forward by supporters of Mr. Bishop’s faction. More broadly, it's this lack of accurate information from the board faction that underscores how disassociated they and their boosters are from the nuts-and-bolts work to keep the space going on a daily basis. I find it tragic that the board faction has decided to tackle its own alienation and lack of constructive engagement by picking a fight with the executive director that seems most characterized by a personality clash. I’d submit that it would be vastly more productive for both staff and the larger organization for the board faction to instead address their own failure to raise funds, build good will with the public, incorporate eager volunteers into a viable, thriving development crew, et al.

One of the numerous ‘anonymous’ posters on this thread said I am a “friend of Marguerite Horberg” and that my “statements here are untruthful.” To the latter point, what have I said in this thread that is untruthful? Instead of tossing broadsides, please be specific – an approach that may set the tone for Mr. Bishop’s board faction, which to date has also failed to be ‘specific’, open or fully honest with the HotHouse public.

Regarding the assertion that I am Ms. Horberg’s ‘friend’: I count Ms. Horberg as a friend and a comrade. I also have no compunction about criticizing Marguerite publicly and privately when the situation demands, as anyone who knows me can attest. Obviously ‘anonymous’ does not know me – nor, apparently, much about the daily workings of the space. That said, people can argue until they're blue in the face about what they perceive as Ms. Horberg’s imperfect personality. But these types of character assassinations are inevitably used to cover the tracks of people engaged in larger political and policy struggles -- a veneer for deeper disputes.

Mr. Bishop has been very adept in putting his his best face forward; it's the only hope he and his undemocratic board faction have to defend their actions. Then again, any slick politician will kiss the babies and hug the little old ladies in their wheelchairs. It's their legislative record that counts, not how personable they are when schmoozing the public.

Yet some on this thread seem to miss this important point. Undoubtedly Ms. Horberg could have been a more slick and personable politician in handling this matter. On the other hand, she's had the backbone to put the issues out there -- a tack that the board faction continues to refuse to do, because the facts raise grave questions about their actions.

So again, I raise these questions. How does the board faction propose to pay for the slot of 'business director' that they assert is the sticking point between them and Horberg? How does the board propose to pay for the staff raises they've promised employees as a part of their divide and rule strategy? When will they announce their plan for fundraising -- an endeavor at which they have failed miserably during their tenure? Why will they not conduct their meetings in the open, or do funders and supporters the courtesy of meeting with them in a public space to address the growing concerns of the institution's supporters? When will the board agree to the perfectly reasonable suggestion that the two parties in this dispute submit to objective outside mediation that puts the wellbeing of the organization and its mission at the center of the discussion?

Finally, to the poster who suggests that HotHouse can survive without Horberg, let me say this. The space itself may survive. The core mission of the organization will inevitably collapse -- not so much because Horberg is not present, but because this board faction clearly neither understands nor cares about the organization's central mission.

Super finally, let me state for the record that I really tire of whining about women who are 'bullies' or insufficiently polite, obsequious, scraping and servile. These sorts of management tendencies are inevitably decried in women, yet when men exhibit the same sorts of behaviors, they are typically seen as 'strong leaders,' 'hard-hitting,' 'uncompromising,' and in other terms less pejorative than reserved for women.

Mr. Bishop's supporters would never consider using the words with which they tar Horberg to describe his behavior -- although it can be argued that the actions of this board faction could also be described as 'bullying', 'hostile,' 'counterproductive,' and of course, 'rude.'

Anonymous said...

Devisive comments all around continue to demoralize the hard working staff who are being castigated in the middle of this. Regardless of the miserable anonymous comments about my treatement of former employees, I care deeply about the crew who is working there now and enduring the chaos and publicity while attempting to keep the place open. This is an awful, awful situation to put people in. There is no one running the show and it spite of Adam's rather brave spin on things in today's Sun -Times the strain on everyone is severe and everyone who works there is contemplating looking for a new job. It was hard even in the best of times . The situation is most terrible for the people who get up every day and continue to try and show up to work. It really does not help to write anonymous comments that further drive a wedge between the staff unless you are really a live person with real complaints and can identify yourself and be helpful and solution oriented -This is serious and not a game- this is people's lives and livelihoods at stake here. -marguerite horberg

Julian Jacobson said...

It’s a shame it had to come to this but I am pleased that we are here slugging it out in the open. HotHouse is all about passionate expression so I encourage anyone with a stake in this, to post openly- whatever their leanings may be.

I am a volunteer who has done everything at Hothouse from passing out surveys to leading a highly involved consulting project from the Kelley School of Business. I have a great deal of respect for Marguerite and I consider her a close friend so I can't claim much objectivity here. But above all, I am expressing myself out of concern for HotHouse.

Marguerite really is the center of all that is HotHouse. That uncompromising mentality that gets people so riled up – that is vital to making such an unorthodox and progressive organization work, against all odds and through unthinkable challenges. That's why HotHouse is mainlined into the great art forms like no other venue on the planet. Not to marginalize the other players in the story, but the HotHouse is itself a magnificent work of art, and in my observation where there is great art, there is invariably a serious hard-ass making sure the core values aren't compromised. You can say what you want about Marguerite but if forced to choose between a fire at HotHouse and a fire at her house, she would fight the one at HotHouse. She has that rare devotion to her ideals and I am not sure the same is true with some of the other characters in this story.

I can empathize with the board because - for lawyers, accountants, and business people - I am sure following a person like Marguerite into battle is a pretty scary thing. Her management decisions often make more etherial than pragmatic sense – but that’s part of the recipe for what is cooking at HotHouse. On balance, I am certain that the board is doing what they believe is best but I think only those who are fully dedicated to the arts should call shots for HotHouse, and unfortunately the three board members who have shown that professional commitment to the arts seemed to have been factored out of this vote.

No one disagrees that Marguerite needs to step aside from the operational and financial side of things over time, not even Marguerite. The question is how to do that in a way that the essence remains. I think the transition needs to be a process where a counter-balancing business perspective can compliment Marguerite's vision, with her close participation. I don't like the way she was suspended, and I think that given the contentious environment between the board and Marguerite it is clear that she will be pushed to the fringes if this motion passes.

The best of all possible scenarios would be an objectively mediated process, as has been proposed by both sides, but it seems obvious that that this story is headed for the front page of the next Chicago Reader, where it’s bound to get even uglier than it already has. I just encourage everyone to keep their head and remember what important: the art.

-Julian Jacobson

Elana said...

Julian's comments are well intentioned, thoughtful, and made in good faith.

A strong organization is unto itself, for this must be, lest it be vulnerable to the health, mortality or shifting interest of a single leader. Let us hope that the ugliness ceases and that quiet good faith take hold. Let their be acceptance and acknowledgement of weakness so that the positive may florish in its place.

It was an error in judgment for the situation chronicled here to have been chronicled here at all. It was a disservice to all - to the organization, to its employees,including its executive director/founder, to its volunteer board, to its members, to those who contribute money, to the artists who perform or exhibit their art, and to its patrons, like myself.

Each person who has posted here - think again about your words, and whether you advance or diminish the liklihood of Hothouse being a part of Chicago when we are but ghosts. I pray that this be the last comment here . . . and for an end to my own insomnia.

Elana Hernandez

ZILAS said...

I been working in Hot House for two years. I had eight jobs before. But there was nothing like Hot House in all the jobs; Coming to work to Hot House does not feel like you are a slave of some company- it feels being free, and working with no pressure. Eventhough the boss has to be bosy sometimes, but compared with some other boses, other companies- Hot House is a Paradise. I don't know what is really going on, but I feel that we have to bring the founder back to Hot House in order to keep the spirit of a place alive, or Hot House will never be the same place!!!!


ZILAS said...

I been working in Hot House for two years. I had eight jobs before. But there was nothing like Hot House in all the jobs; Coming to work to Hot House does not feel like you are a slave of some company- it feels being free, and working with no pressure. Eventhough the boss has to be bosy sometimes, but compared with some other boses, other companies- Hot House is a Paradise. I don't know what is really going on, but I feel that we have to bring the founder back to Hot House in order to keep the spirit of a place alive, or Hot House will never be the same place!!!!


Anonymous said...

Founder’s Syndrome? Who Me?
by Hildy Gottlieb
Copyright ReSolve, Inc.2003, 2005 ©

Email this Article to

a Friend -CLICK

Much has been written about Founder’s Syndrome from the point of view of the board or an outside consultant, focusing on infrastructure steps that can be taken to strengthen the organization.

But what about the founder him/herself? I haven’t been able to find an article that helps Founders understand what has brought about the changes everyone feels he/she needs to make. Nor have I found anything that helps founders make those changes.

My interest in this subject is not academic or professional. For me, this is personal.

I am a founder.

As many of our readers know, in addition to keeping Help 4 NonProfits buzzing along, my partner and I started a NonProfit organization that is quite extraordinary (aren’t they all?). The organization - a Diaper Bank - provides diapers to those in need, because virtually none of the safety nets provide for diapers or incontinence supplies. And being the proud parents we are, if you would like to check out the Diaper Bank’s website, you will find it at

Our dual role provides us with a unique perspective, the ability to understand Founder’s Syndrome from both the inside and the outside. Wearing our Consulting hat, we have been called in to address the problems that Founder’s Syndrome has wreaked in other organizations. And wearing our Founder hat, we have experienced much of emotion that creates this situation in the first place.

And so we thought it might be helpful to share with other founders the lessons we have learned along the way. These lessons are not intended for boards who are wondering what to do about a founder who is hanging on, although we know these insights will be helpful to boards as well. (If you do find yourself in that position, see Hank Lewis’s excellent article in Nonprofit Boards and Governance Review CLICK HERE).

The lessons that follow are instead written to founders themselves, asking them to dig down deep to look first at what motivates the behaviors that have become lumped together as “Founders Syndrome,” and second, to encourage them to take the next steps - to help their organization move to a place that isn’t founder-driven, but community-driven.

What Is Founder’s Syndrome - The Nutshell Version

Founder’s Syndrome occurs when a single individual or a small group of individuals bring an organization through tough times (a start-up, a growth spurt, a financial collapse, etc.). Often these sorts of situations require a strong passionate personality - someone who can make fast decisions and motivate people to action.

Once those rough times are over, however, the decision-making needs of the organization change, requiring mechanisms for shared responsibility and authority. It is when those decision-making mechanisms don’t change, regardless of growth and changes on the program side, that Founder’s Syndrome becomes an issue. We see this most frequently with organizations that have grown from a mom-and-pop operation to a $12 million community powerhouse, while decisions are still made as if the founders are gathered around someone’s living room, desperately trying to hold things together.

Founder’s Syndrome isn’t necessarily about the actual founder of an organization. The central figure could be the person who took over from the founder. It could be someone who took over in a time of crisis, and led the organization to clear waters. Or it could just be someone who has been at the helm forever.

The “founder” could be the CEO. Or it could be a board member, or a handful of board members who have either been there since the beginning or have ridden the organization through tough times.

But the main symptom of Founder’s Syndrome is that decisions are not made collectively. Most decisions are simply made by the "founder." All other parties merely rubber stamp what the founder suggests. There is generally strong resistance to any change in that decision-making, where the Founder might lose his/her total control of the organization. Boards of these organizations usually don't govern, but instead "approve" what the founder suggests. Planning isn't done collectively, but by the founder. And plans / ideas that do NOT come from the founder usually don't go very far.

In other words, regardless of the size of the organization, everyone who is NOT the founder is relegated to the role of support staff to the Founder. (If you ever hear a board say, “Our board’s role is just to support the ED,” that is one of many classic signals that Founder’s Syndrome is likely at play.)

For more symptoms of Founder’s Syndrome
Click Here

Some may ask, “So what’s wrong with that?” And the answer is simple: If the “founder” is hit by a bus tomorrow, the organization is not sustainable, and all the good work the organization has done over the years is in danger of screeching to a halt. That’s because organizations facing Founder’s Syndrome usually have little infrastructure in place, because it simply hasn’t been needed. In these situations, the founder IS the infrastructure!

What Founders Need to Know

We use two analogies to describe our relationship to the organization we founded. We try not to mix these metaphors, but sometimes it happens. Here goes:

Once you have birthed it, it is no longer your baby. Just as it is with our own children, once they are born, they are their own persons. We can guide our children, teach them, nurture them - but our son or daughter is a person in his/her own right. As is “our” organization. It’s not ours. It is its own thing. We don’t own it.

Once you give a gift, it’s no longer yours. Ok - that’s the other metaphor. We have created this amazing gift for our community. Now that it is used and depended upon by others - now that we have given this gift to the community, it is no longer ours. It belongs to the community. That’s the definition of a gift.

From these two facts - that the organization is a being in its own right, and that that being belongs to the community, not us - come a number of other facts many founders don’t want to face.

1) Along with the decision to bring a child into the world comes the responsibility to raise it to live independently. We all know the old adage - that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Well the part we don’t like to admit to ourselves is that there is another certainty associated with the “death” part - and that is that none of us knows exactly when our days will be done. Because we know we are not going to live forever, and we cannot know if our last day will be tomorrow or 50 years from now, it is irresponsible to run our organizations as if we will, in fact, be around forever. It is simply not fair to the organization, nor to those who benefit from the work we do. The only responsible approach, therefore, is to raise this child to NOT need us.

2) The world doesn’t owe you anything for having founded your organization. We gave up our lives to create the organization we founded. We went without sleep, sweated blood, and in our case, even went into debt. But the sad truth is that nobody owes us anything for doing that. We did it because we cared. And regardless of which metaphor you use - that of having a child, or that of giving a gift - neither of them provides for a payback. Our “payback” in having a child is in seeing our children grow and take on the world themselves. And our “payback” for giving a gift is in seeing how happy the recipient is to use that gift, hopefully for a long long time.

3) It’s not about you. Harsh, but true. It’s hard sometimes to acknowledge that regardless of how much we put into nurturing the organization we founded, in the long run, none of that really matters. It’s not about our emotional needs - regardless of what those are. It’s not about what we’ve sacrificed to make it all work, or the recognition / gratitude we think we should get. It’s about the community, which is why we created this gift in the first place. If we have not prepared the organization to survive (and dare I say thrive?) without our presence, and we therefore cannot even think of leaving, as the organization would crumble without us, then we have somehow made it about us, rather than about the community.

4) Your vision isn’t nearly as important as the organization’s vision and the community’s vision. Yes, it was our vision that founded the organization in the first place. But as the organization grows and matures, that vision may not be all there is. The ability for the organization to dramatically affect the community may be far larger than the vision we had when we first opened the doors. Doing things the way they’ve always been done, and thinking the way things have always been thought is not necessarily the best thing for the organization, nor for the community it serves. It is simply what WE would do. So if we fear the vision would change if we weren’t there, perhaps it’s time to let it evolve while we are still present.

So What is a Founder To Do?

First, if you are the founder of a brand new organization and you are just starting out, build it right. Build it to sustain for the future. Build it as if you won’t be there to see it through its life. Think about the future while you are creating the organization’s present.

If, however, the organization is an older one, and it and you have become inextricably entwined, then there is work to be done. Some of that work is organizational. Some is personal.

Let’s start with the personal side:

1) Acknowledge that some day, the split will happen. The only way to ensure that your legacy is an organization that serves the community long after you are gone is to acknowledge, right now, that you cannot be there forever - and that you never know when that “forever” will occur. Take that to heart and be conscious of it as you plan for your organization’s future, and you will likely put the needed tools in place to survive you.

2) Get help. Find a professional coach who can help you work out the personal aspects of your eventual separation from the organization, even if you are not going anywhere but are just thinking about ensuring the organization is ready in the event you do. This is especially important for those of you who don’t believe you have Founder’s Syndrome, but have heard it whispered about you. If you or your organization show the symptoms listed here (Click), then find a coach to work with - for the good of those you serve.

Hint - if someone slipped this article onto your desk anonymously, there’s a good chance you should start looking for a coach.

From the organizational side:

1) A healthy organization starts with a healthy board. Whether you are a board member or the CEO, if the board as a whole is depending on you for everything from the organization’s vision to the connection to the community, then it’s time to begin developing, training and restructuring your board to be the ones to lead the organization. This will likely take some recruiting efforts as well, because there is a good chance many of the existing board members were hand-picked by you! (That’s all part of the syndrome.) If the organization is to thrive into the next decades and further, the board will have to understand its role at the top of the organizational chart, and it will have to be populated by people who want to do that job.

2) Codify the vision and values that are at the heart of the organization. Create a working credo that will guide both the board’s future decisions and those made by the staff. (For a sample of the credo we created for the organization we founded, Click Here.) There is nothing to say that the credo won’t evolve over time - ours already has, and likely will again. But the core of what is important will remain, and that will be another part of your legacy.

3) Create a succession plan that proactively deals with all the things you (or the board) is scared might happen when you leave.

• Are they afraid that you have been the link to the community, the public image of the organization? Then determine a way to proactively deal with that, perhaps creating a speakers bureau or PR committee.

• Are they afraid that most of the institutional memory of the organization resides inside your head? Then find a way to proactively deal with that - perhaps having you take time off to commit some of that knowledge to paper.

• Are they afraid that you have been the best fundraiser they could dream of? Then find a proactive way to deal with that - perhaps by developing an army of development volunteers with a passion for the mission.

Whatever the fear, make sure your succession plan deals with it proactively to ensure the viability of the organization for the long term. While the main focus of this plan will be succession, the ancillary benefit is that you will be building organizational infrastructure. And that will provide benefit immediately.

4) As part of your succession plan, train someone now who could replace you, even temporarily, in the event something happens to you. This doesn’t mean you are going anywhere soon. You may not be leaving for the next 10 years! But if the whole organization relies on you for its survival, and you really are hit by a meteor tomorrow, then what will happen? Find someone you can share your institutional knowledge with, and train them to share the load now, while you still can.


As a founder, I owe the community my organization serves the obligation to ensure that the child I birthed is capable of living on its own and benefitting the world into eternity. Just as we have the obligation in real life to make plans for the future of our children in the event something happens to us (life insurance, a will, etc.), we owe the community the pledge that we will do the same for the gift we have given them.

Anonymous said...

this group would be better off studying the fall of the Vichy government and how in the end the people's resistence ran them off to jail instead of goofy syndromes

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy which begins by early adulthood and is present in differing contexts within a person's life.


A narcissistic individual is grandiose in their sense of self-importance and exaggerates their achievements and talents. He expects to be recognized as superior without achieving any great accomplishments.

A narcissistic individual is preoccupied with fantasies of his brilliance as well as his unlimited success or power. He fantasizes about beauty or ideal love.

A narcissistic individual believes that he is "special" or "unique." He feels that he can only be understood by or should associate with other special or high status people.

A narcissistic individual requires excessive admiration and is on a constant search for admiration.

A narcissistic individual has a sense of entitlement. He has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment and expect others to automatically comply with his wishes.

A narcissistic individual takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends and uses others without regards to the feelings of others.

A narcissistic individual lacks empathy and does not identify with the feelings or needs of others.

A narcissstic individual is envious of others and believes that others are envious of him.

A narcissistic individual shows arrogant or haughty behaviors or attitudes and does not care who he offends.

*Please note that this article has been written in the male gender because estimates are that only 1% of the population suffers from this disorder and 50-75% of this 1% is male. Female narcissists do exist. Therefore, the word he is interchangeable with the word she.

Anonymous said...

Anger Management

The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.

Are You Too Angry?

There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.

Why Are Some People More Angry Than Others?

According to Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in anger management, some people really are more "hotheaded" than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don't show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don't always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.

People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.

What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.

Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.

Is It Good To "Let it All Hang Out?"

Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that "letting it rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation.

It's best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.

Anonymous said...

Strategies To Keep Anger At Bay


Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. There are books and courses that can teach you relaxation techniques, and once you learn the techniques, you can call upon them in any situation. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.

Some simple steps you can try:

* Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."

* Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "take it easy." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.

* Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.

* Nonstrenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.

Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're in a tense situation.

Cognitive Restructuring

Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow."

Be careful of words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "This !&*%@ machine never works," or "you're always forgetting things" are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.

Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won't make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).

Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it's justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you," you're just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it'll help you get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don't get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren't met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, "I would like" something is healthier than saying, "I demand" or "I must have" something. When you're unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn't mean the hurt goes away.

Problem Solving

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it's a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn't always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.

Make a plan, and check your progress along the way. Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn't come right away. If you can approach it with your best intentions and efforts and make a serious attempt to face it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.

Better Communication

Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you're in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don't say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.

Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your "significant other" wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don't retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.

It's natural to get defensive when you're criticized, but don't fight back. Instead, listen to what's underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don't let your anger—or a partner's—let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.

Using Humor

"Silly humor" can help defuse rage in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry and call someone a name or refer to them in some imaginative phrase, stop and picture what that word would literally look like. If you're at work and you think of a coworker as a "dirtbag" or a "single-cell life form," for example, picture a large bag full of dirt (or an amoeba) sitting at your colleague's desk, talking on the phone, going to meetings. Do this whenever a name comes into your head about another person. If you can, draw a picture of what the actual thing might look like. This will take a lot of the edge off your fury; and humor can always be relied on to help unknot a tense situation.

The underlying message of highly angry people, Dr. Deffenbacher says, is "things oughta go my way!" Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!

When you feel that urge, he suggests, picture yourself as a god or goddess, a supreme ruler, who owns the streets and stores and office space, striding alone and having your way in all situations while others defer to you. The more detail you can get into your imaginary scenes, the more chances you have to realize that maybe you are being unreasonable; you'll also realize how unimportant the things you're angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humor. First, don't try to just "laugh off" your problems; rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don't give in to harsh, sarcastic humor; that's just another form of unhealthy anger expression.

What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it's often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.

Changing Your Environment

Sometimes it's our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the "trap" you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.

Give yourself a break. Make sure you have some "personal time" scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful. One example is the working mother who has a standing rule that when she comes home from work, for the first 15 minutes "nobody talks to Mom unless the house is on fire." After this brief quiet time, she feels better prepared to handle demands from her kids without blowing up at them.

Some Other Tips for Easing Up on Yourself

Timing: If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night—perhaps you're tired, or distracted, or maybe it's just habit—try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don't turn into arguments.

Avoidance: If your child's chaotic room makes you furious every time you walk by it, shut the door. Don't make yourself look at what infuriates you. Don't say, "well, my child should clean up the room so I won't have to be angry!" That's not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.

Finding alternatives: If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project—learn or map out a different route, one that's less congested or more scenic. Or find another alternative, such as a bus or commuter train.

Anonymous said...

Do You Need Counseling?

If you feel that your anger is really out of control, if it is having an impact on your relationships and on important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to handle it better. A psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can work with you in developing a range of techniques for changing your thinking and your behavior.

When you talk to a prospective therapist, tell her or him that you have problems with anger that you want to work on, and ask about his or her approach to anger management. Make sure this isn't only a course of action designed to "put you in touch with your feelings and express them"—that may be precisely what your problem is. With counseling, psychologists say, a highly angry person can move closer to a middle range of anger in about 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the circumstances and the techniques used.

What About Assertiveness Training?

It's true that angry people need to learn to become assertive (rather than aggressive), but most books and courses on developing assertiveness are aimed at people who don't feel enough anger. These people are more passive and acquiescent than the average person; they tend to let others walk all over them. That isn't something that most angry people do. Still, these books can contain some useful tactics to use in frustrating situations.

Remember, you can't eliminate anger—and it wouldn't be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can't change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Verbal Abuse and its Devastating Impact
By Patricia Evans
Verbal Abuse is insidious.
Verbal Abuse is endemic.
Verbal Abuse impacts millions of people.
Verbal Abuse and its denial are crazy-making
Verbal Abuse usually occurs in secret.

If you've heard,
"You're Too Sensitive"
you've heard verbal abuse.

Although many people have heard sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us, those who have suffered from verbal abuse know that words do hurt and can be as damaging as physical blows are to the body. The scars from verbal assaults can last for years. They are psychological scars that leave people unsure of themselves, unable to recognize their true value, their talents and sometimes unable to adapt to life’s many challenges.

Except for name-calling many people don't recognize verbal abuse—especially when it comes from a person they believe loves them or from a person they perceive as an authority figure; or when it comes from a person who is in a position of power, for example, one's boss, a family provider, one's parent, or even an older sibling that one has learned to look up to in childhood.

Unfortunately, when people don’t recognize verbal abuse for what it is, they may try to get the person who is putting them down, giving them orders, or “correcting,” denouncing, yelling at or ignoring them to understand them. Or, they may try to stop them by giving it back in kind. In other words, they may act out their anger.

The circumstances under which verbal abuse takes place make a real difference in how to respond to it. In the workplace, for instance, an appropriate response to a very abusive boss might be to prepare a resume or to read the want ads. On the other hand, a child can’t very well escape from an abusive parent and so we, the observers and relatives of the child must be alert and ready to speak up for him or her. Keeping a record and letting others know what is going on are often good first steps.

Since, in the majority of cases, people who indulge in verbal abuse are selective about whom they abuse, many people are surprised to hear that someone is experiencing on-going and periodic abuse from someone they know and have always seen as nice and friendly. “Nice and Friendly” is the persona of many an abuser. Although many folks are as nice and friendly as they seem, some are not.

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time, a queen was doing needle work while staring outside her window at the beautiful snow. It was because of her distracted state that she pricked her finger on her needle and a drop of blood fell on some snow that had fallen on her windowsill. As she looked at the blood on the snow she said to herself, "Oh how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony". Soon after that, the queen gave birth to a baby girl who had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. They named her Princess Snow White, but sadly, the queen died after giving birth to Snow White. Soon after, the king took a new wife who was beautiful, but very proud and possessed evil powers. She also possessed a magic mirror, to whom she would often ask "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?", and to which the mirror would always reply, "You are". But after Snow White became seven (which is the official age that a girl becomes a maiden) when she asked her mirror, it responded, "Queen, you're the fairest where you are, but Snow White is more beautiful by far".

The Queen was jealous, and ordered a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed. She demanded that the huntsman return with Snow White's lungs and liver as proof. The huntsman took Snow White into the forest, but found himself unable to kill the girl. Instead, he let her go, and brought the queen the lungs and liver of a wild boar.

Snow White discovered a tiny cottage in the forest, belonging to seven dwarfs, where she rests. Meanwhile, the Queen asked her mirror once again, "Who's the fairest of them all?", and was horrified when the mirror told her that Snow White, who was alive and well and living with the dwarfs, was still the fairest of them all.

Three times the Queen disguised herself and visited the dwarfs' cottage where Snow White was staying to try to kill her. First, disguised as a peddler, the Queen offered colorful stay-laces and laced Snow White up so tight that she fainted, and the Queen took her for dead. Snow White was revived by the dwarfs when they loosened the laces. Next, the Queen dressed as a different old woman and combed Snow White's hair with a poisoned comb. Snow White again collapsed, and again the dwarfs saved her. Lastly the Queen made a poison apple, and in the disguise of a countrywoman offered it to Snow White. She was hesitant, so the Queen cut the apple in half, ate the white part — which had no poison — and gave the poisoned red part to Snow White. She ate the apple eagerly and immediately fell into a deep, magical sleep. When the dwarfs found her, they could not revive her, so they placed her in a glass coffin, thinking that she had died.

Time passed, and a prince travelling through the land saw Snow White in her coffin. The prince was enchanted by her beauty and instantly fell in love with her. He begged the dwarfs to let him have the coffin. The prince and his men carried the coffin away, but as they went they stumbled. The coffin jerked and the piece of poison apple flew out of Snow White's mouth, awakening her. The prince then declared his love and soon a wedding was planned.

The vain Queen, still believing that Snow White was dead, again asked her mirror who was fairest in the land and yet again the mirror disappointed her by responding that "You, my queen, are fair; it is true. But the young queen is a thousand times fairer than you".

Not knowing that this new queen was indeed her stepdaughter, she arrived at the wedding, and her heart filled with the deepest of dread when she realized the truth.

As punishment for her wicked ways, a pair of heated iron shoes were brought forth with tongs and placed before the Queen. She was then forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead.

Anonymous said...

# How to practice dying and make the most of living
# Ways to develop more kindness and compassion
# How to let go of boundaries
# Using your enemies or those who've wronged you to "sink into your heart"
# Learning how to die through the common cold
# The exquisite opportunity that dying presents
# Why aging is an unparalleled opportunity for enlightenment
# How to forgive those "whose hearts cannot yet see"
# Appreciating how and why to let go of suffering
# How to move from the personal to the universal

Anonymous said...

Wow! whoever you are, poster of the last several posts, you have an interesting approach to dealing with thr group dynamics here. I have been reading this for days now. Lots of people where I work, they are reading it to, wondering what all the commotion is about. Its like a kinda soap opera! I think it would be funny if it were not all so ridiculous. Its like, so damn what! Yeah, the Hothouse is pretty cool, I like some of the music, its a place to go, have a beer, great looking woman - but damn, its like there is this drama queen and people here on this blog seem to be acting like the survival of the friggin planet is dependent on whether the boss gets different job duties. Give me a damn break! I have had to change jobs several times and then have new stuff put on me just to keep the job I have. And yeah, its what I do and it is important to me too - its my life's work, but it ain't the end of the world when things get altered some. Time for me to go wonder onto some other blogger's blog. Too musch to coffee cause I worked late and I am wired!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say I think the staff at the HotHouse is the best. I was there last night and enjoyed the show. I chatted with several staffers - never seen them so happy! Folks seemed darned optimistic about the future and really energized. Cool! I have one suggestion though - I think HotHouse should have food. I go often and dont want to have to first get something to eat so I can balance out the drinks. Hey other bars do it! Desserts too. Does not have to be extensive. What do others think about the food idea?

Tasha Mesin said...

I vote for food. Food for thought, and yes, regular food! Great idea. Also, I love it when HotHouse brings in gypsy music - bravo and more. I am thankful that Hothouse will carry on. In showbiz, its what must be done.

Anonymous said...

As another former employee, I'd like to weigh in by saying that--
--Yes, the Hothouse is a valuble cultural resource,
--Yes, it would be awful if it fell apart
--and Yes, Marguerite was one of the biggest problems with the place.
Be clear-- this statment from the board is not saying "We want to destroy the club" so much as it's saying "We're trying to preserve this place, and after years and years of complaints and finacial monekyshines, we're narrowing it down to this one person."
I'd been working in my chosen field for years when I started at the Hothouse, and while I found the rest of the staff (more or less) competent, Marguerite seemed not only willfully ignorant and dismissive of the established house rules, but blatantly willing to break state and city laws regarding capacity and age restrictions surrounding liquor-- putting the club, the musicians, and the staff at risk.
Which is why it's so completly offensive to see her manipulating this into a personal issue. It's not because the board doesn't like her, it's more to do with her putting the organizaion, it's patrons and staff, at risk.
But to be honest, I don't like her. She's incredibly haughty and classist-- downright elitist, in fact. Her public martyred mask is so far from her actual practices and behaviors that it disgusts me, especially when she plays that game about how oppressed and put-upon she is. She can talk a good game about up the worker and down the bosses, but when it's off the stage and on the floor, if her and her cronies aren't fawned on and treated like royalty she brings down the hammer-- or more accuratly, has someone else bring it down. She is a perfect example of a self-aggrandizing, self-serving faux radical/liberal, and I hope that the Hothouse board can be free of her.

Anonymous said...

hit the nail on the head! cant run from the light forever. really, let, the sunshine in and it will reveal facets perhaps one might prefer to be in shadow. treat people bad, they talk to one another. no where to hide the truth. mirror mirror on the wall . . .

Anonymous said...

I admittedly have not been to the Hothouse in over a year. But I consider myself a supporter and fan. I've seen/heard some great performances there! I know a lot of people have helped make it what it is today. I'm absolutely sure the folks that are now on the Board joined because they wanted to contribute to something wonderful as well and I'll bet it's their intention to help Hothouse. But we can see the results of those attempts. The postings from the self help book authors are strange and out of place. Let's be clear this has nothing to do with Founder's Syndrome. We're not talking about a Diaper Recycling project here. This is about someones life's work. This is about Marguerite's art. This isn't a child you expect to raise and send off. I also worked at the Hothouse. Yep, Marguerite has a crazy business style. She's no MBA....but a lot of them could learn from her. It is precisely becuase of her whacky business style, that the Hothouse has not only survived but flourished. It's to her credit, though again a lot of people have helped. Hothouse is Marguerite and visa versa. People are pationately defending her because it's a HUGE injustice for someone, though well meaning as it might seen to outsiders, to step in and try to run this project.

I hope cool heads prevail, that the current Board realizes their course of action isn't going to help the Hothouse, Marguerite, Chicago music scene or the supposed happy staff brightly looking forward to the future, because this isn't about good business sense. So many downtown venues have folded with good business managers at the helm. This is about passion, about art, about politics, about drama. I can assure you the Hothouse will only survive with Marguerite at the helm. I'm absolutely convinced the folks on the Board now are there because Marguerite knows she needs folks who are thinking about the Hothouse as a business to help her. But that's the thing. They're supposed to be there to help her, not try to make decisions for her.
Peggy Valdes (Hopson Diaz)

Tasha Mesin said...

I sure hope that no one really believes that when the person whose idea somthing is cant be part of it because they quit or something, that the idea dies. If that were true Jane Adams Hull house would not be able to really exist. A place as good as Hothouse - I am sure that the person who created - Margerite Horberg - she wants it to go on for decades, even after she retires. So I think Peggy is just mistaken about Hothouse only being able to survive if Margerite is at the helm. I am sure she really believes this, but I think she is wrong. When Jane Adams was not in charge anymore of the Hull House, it went on and is still around. I think its a strong place years later. Here is the web adddress:

Anonymous said...

I am also a former employee, like it or not she really is the essence of the Hothouse, all of the good and bad. She is very difficult to work for because the fine detail that makes the place so unique is mis/micromanaged by her. If the agreement was in place that she would relinquish day to day ops, why the coup? I have many years experience managing bars and venues, 20 years is a long time for any establishment. Seems so me that like her or not she seems to have the mojo, let it keep working for the greater sake.

Anonymous said...

An update to the situation in today's Reader:

Anonymous said...

The money at hothouse has been funny for a long time. This is not the first time the board has looked into the finances of hothouse. Look into the history 4 years ago and you will see an entirely different respectable board saying the same things that now 4 years later, these new board members are saying.The money is funny!
This is not the first time Marguerite has been accused of not paying bills. Look back in history and see that she was evicted for not paying rent at the Milwaukee location. Yes she has an answer for all of it but everyone can't be wrong. (three completely different sets of good respectable people saying the same things in a long span of time)
In my time at hothouse workers were not getting paid. They were given checks week after week that bounced with MH knowing that they would bounce. She touts a political line and says she is for the workers yet she treated them this way for a good 6 months preying on their generosity of spirit. Never mind that they had bills to pay and would leave in the evening with a no good check and 20 dollars in tips.
Hot House is a great place Marguerite is the perfect person for Artistic Director and Fundraiser but even those of you who know her well know that her shortcoming is dealing with finances. Can't anyone see that this will only help Hothouse to be around for a long time. She refuses to take tthe position offered because then she would not be in charge. Thats too bad. Too bad that she cannot see past her own needs. Her need to be in control of the whole thing without anyone including a "board" telling her what to do, even if letting someone else handle the finances would insure the future of HotHouse. Call it founders syndrome, call it stubborness. I call it bad business and I call it using the community to keep bad business going. Anyone looking and writing to this blog I to implore you to "Help the HotHouse". Maguerite is helping herself.

Anonymous said...

For all of you who keep writing dont let this institution close and then write in favor of Marguerite, need to take a little time to figure out that instiution is bing robbed by her and would not have exsisted this long if it were not for dedicated board memebers keeping her on the up and up. the instiution will go on and be aroudn for all to enjoy if you take the finances out of Marguerites hadns. Thats all anyone is saying. Musicians out there you can actually have ajob an get paid a reasonable amount of $$. Forget about worrying if Marguerite is going to pay you or not or rip you off. You all know this happens over and over again. The insitution will live....if someones hands are taken out of the till.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I’m so happy today that someone sent me this “blog” brought back so many memories....It is true-- I also many years ago used to volunteer for the Hot House. I remember the passion we all felt back then—the CIPEX mission, and what artistically it was doing for our community. It was such an exciting time and I too admired the very charming Margarite faithfully in what she was leading the Hot House into. But then I became an Yes, I too could continue the rant for pages and pages of what it was like to be an employee as well- ---I feel for you all!!! really I do!!!...All I can say that Hot House is a great idea, and a great institution , and that how bittersweet it is that after not seeing that “woman” for quite some time to view her picture in the reader and realize that after all these years she has completely morphed into Peter Griffin of “Family Guy”...

Anonymous said...

This is all so discouraging. No wonder we can't run a revolution, we can't even run a bar.....

Anonymous said...

Now Bill, alas, do not be discouraged. What is happening at the HotHouse is proof that on occassion, the fair & just do prevail despite the spin, despite mudslinging and wild accusations made by people who whose agenda is either completely self-centered, or sadly motivated by blind, deaf & dumb loyalty to an undeserving "friend".

From what I can tell the "bar" at HotHouse is cranking out the drinks just fine, there are smiles on the faces of those who work there, the art & music that is the HotHouse goes on.

Yeah, that is something all people who read this should remember - the Hothouse is not one person - it is not Horberg. The collective & collabartive vision of an organization is what distingusihes those that are great from those that are just good, and from those that continue from those that are merely a transient blip in time, destined for the pages of Chicago history.

I read that article in the Reader, and all I can say about the mindset of the person who perceives herself to be the soul of the Hothouse - narcisitic and arrogannt, without justification, to the core.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Add my signature.
I also recommend and will particiapte and/or organize informational picketing of the HotHouse on Friday and Saturfay evenings.
John S. Butsch

Anonymous said...

Can anyone post the Charter of the HotHouse? Knowing the mission, bylaws and amendments will clarify responsibilites and explain how the board is selected, their terms and meeting requirements. It will also illuminate the unique role of Marguerite and her relationship/responsibilties to the Board and theirs to her. Without this understanding, emotions devoid of insight will drive the dialogue.
Regards.John S Butsch

Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you all for the interest in HotHouse. I am currently a member of HH's senior staff. Altough we've been working really hard to block all of this in order to continue HotHouse's mission, I think it's important to speak up from within the organization and address the situation that we're going thru.

To me, HotHouse is not one person. To me, HotHouse is a multicultural gang of misfits...a multitude of visions, on a constant state of revolution, working together and sharing the same goal: to build a tower of Babel that will enlighten and empower everyone and anyone that so desires.

A rare collection of art-freak expatriates, sound artists, dj's and musicians, film makers, cultural promoters and progressive kids that share the same vision: to share with the arts-loving communities international culture while deep in the heart of this entity called the USA.

Am I against the idea of having a business manager? Absolutely not. That would leave more room to play, make friends and influence people. Life is too short to micro-manage. Absolute control is boring. I'm simply against the idea of innecessary conflict...specially when the world is so deep into it. If the "parental" forces within the organization are butting heads and want to fight, that's fine. Keep it outside, take care of things, kiss and make up, then come back to the dinner table. The show must go on. We have a mission to accomplish.

As always, the best seat at HotHouse is reserved for Marguerite.

Now I gotta go back to work (yes, on a Sunday)

Mil gracias,
Gabriel Feijoo

Anonymous said...

I would hate to see a boycott of the hothouse and its programs, they are too important for our community. What is wrong with hothouse hiring a business manage to better manage the finances? From what I have read under Ms. Horberg's controls many people were not paid and licenses were not kept up etc. Hothouse could benefit from someone that can manage the finances so that it will not be once again out of business due to mismanagement. It's sad because of all thats going on there, their is probably not a viable candidate interested in working at Hothouse.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have heard there are many. In fact, I went to see an art opening Thursday. I believe some of them were there. I imagine there will soon be an anouncement of sorts.

Anonymous said...

the level of utter hatred and poison spewed at Horberg is very disturbing. it reminds me of looking at the pictures of lynched victims and the crowds finding sport and entertainment in the spectacle or the witch at the stake with the mobs chanting, burn! the misinformation, the armchair psychoanalysis written at 4am, the anonymous ficticious ex staff postings, the heaping on of venomous comments are shameful to witness. does this group have any human decency left? or will these anonymous hate filled lurkers continue to make baseless charges of the most fantastic sort without anything to back it up, resort to whispered innuendos and ficticious personalities to make humiliating,degrading and disgusting comments - cowardly and spineless sitting in the shadows - without name- without proof- without shame- without humanity- tearing down a perosns carreer who never made any money - gave her entire life so that others could learn and prosper to the best that was possible at the time - to give opportunity to young kids like Gabriel who never had any experience in a job as important as the one he has now- and for that you people enjoy, as vultures and with smirks the pecking of a person - shame on you !

Anonymous said...

I concur completely. Some of this stuff on here is really painful and makes me sick to read- It's really sad when you compare it with all the positive things HotHouse means to me- it's being completely destroyed through this kind of disgusting tearing down of Margarite. I agree with John, we should boycott - also to John, I think the by-laws, the minutes and the financials are public record -maybe we should ask to see them

Anonymous said...

Hello again and again, thanks for the interest.

I just need to clarify something. I work at HotHouse doing the press and promo. I had been doing that for over 10 years while at the same time going to school, making videos, working as studio assistant to one of the most important artists in the city, writing for music magazines, doing radio shows and programming cultural events and concerts.

Thanks again.

Mil gracias,

Gabriel Feijoo

Anonymous said...

Hot house has a great staff, without the presence of Marguerite Horberg. I have attended some events since her departure and haven't noticed any changes. The staff seem happy. Hopefully, once the new manager is on board Hothouse can become the thriving enterprise that it should be and fulfill its mission. I look forward to attending the events there now and in the years to come. I think they did the right thing. The staff needs leadership that will respect them and foster positive growth, not the negative atmosphere that they had been subjected to.

Anonymous said...

how do you know what their relationships are like -this is more of the same nonsense that means nothing except to hurl further hurt and innuendo - if you care about Hothouse use some discipline to be positive and helpful and not hateful

Tasha Mesin said...

I think John's comment is positive. I dont know this Marguerite, but the people there seem to be in a more happy mood. I was talking to others the other night, including some staff, and they think the board is right and cares a lot about the mission. I got to say, the only nastiness here has been from people who are not agrreing to the changes.

I think I or someone else posted a comment a couple of weeks ago on this - I think an improvement would be to have some type of food. I personally am a vegeterian, so if they do add food, I hope it will be something I can eat.

Anonymous said...

I think Gabe has a lot of courage to say something publicly and he speaks well for a lot of us who work at HH. I don't think we are happier without Margarite on the contrary. She was respected here and the way she has been treated is wrong. We can't say much because we are afraid for our jobs but we are working very hard to keep the p;ace open because we believe in what hothouse stands for - this situation has put a lot of stress on us -when gabe says he is working on sunday that goes for all of us - we hope you don'y boycott us becuase then everything that was built up will be lost. more staff would stand up for Margarite if there was a way to express it without losing our jobs. we miss her a lot and if she is reading this we are sending her a group hug

Anonymous said...

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a regular member at the Hothouse who has been going there for a long time. As an artist brought up with mental disabilities, I appreciated Marguarite Horberg’s help in broadening my experiences with culture in a club with a diverse crowd. A lot of my disabled friends have learned from the unique atmosphere that she has created. The fact that the artists enjoy a not for profit place that’s not based entirely on money and has performers interacting with the audience helps bring on a comfort in the other club/performance situations in Chicago. If she is no longer allowed to remain the Executive Director assisted by a business director I will need to cancel my membership. Then I will stop bringing friends and the majority of people that fought in the past to keep the Hothouse open will not want to continue supporting it unless Marguarite is leading the mission.


Louise Rothenberg

Anonymous said...

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a regular member at the Hothouse who has been going there for a long time. As an artist brought up with mental disabilities, I appreciated Marguarite Horberg’s help in broadening my experiences with culture in a club with a diverse crowd. A lot of my disabled friends have learned from the unique atmosphere that she has created. The fact that the artists enjoy a not for profit place that’s not based entirely on money and has performers interacting with the audience helps bring on a comfort in the other club/performance situations in Chicago. If she is no longer allowed to remain the Executive Director assisted by a business director I will need to cancel my membership. Then I will stop bringing friends and the majority of people that fought in the past to keep the Hothouse open will not want to continue supporting it unless Marguarite is leading the mission.


Louise Rothenberg

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "comment" posted by someone posing as a HotHouse employee:

I too post a comment anonymously. I am an employee of the HotHouse and can say catagorically that no one here wants a return to the way it was. Sorry Marguerite but its true. Its really sad that your so called friends have encouraged your fight instead of helping you to get past that goddess sized ego of yours. It could have all been good. Too bad you misunderstood the intent of another braver than myself employee's comment posted here.

No one who works here has any misgivings about the intent and goodwill of the board. To them - I now make a toast and say thanks!

Anonymous said...

As I said previously, I have attended some recent performances at the HotHouse and all the employees seem much happier and not in any fear of losing their jobs.

Just because Marguerite is not there will not prevent me from attending the performances. What if Marguerite got very sick, moved away, married, etc? She would be gone and HotHouse should continue. It is owned by the community, not one person.

Tasha Mesin said...

I think John has it right - except for the part about getting married - no reason why getting married would result in someone leaving their work. You know, my sister got married last year and and is still doing her thing. I am getting married next year and I will continue my thing - such as it is.

Its too bad that Louise feels the way she does. It would be better for her to help her friend see that life is about change, and that change is not always a bad thing and is often a good thing. I agree with the person who posted a comment just before John - they said that her friends should help her better. I see tradedy in this, but the wierd thing is that its written out and directed by Marguerite. Her supporters all played a role in supporting her self destructive actions. It is actually sort of sickening. I wonder if they will realize that they will need to blame themselves one day for not helping their friend be more accepting of the changes. Its kinda like that saying - friends do not let friends drive drunk. Of course I am not meaning that there is drinking - I mean its the same type of thing - I would try very hard to convince a friend of mine to not do things that could effect their life like this.

Anonymous said...

Has there been any updates if Marguerite will take on the redesigned job description?

Anonymous said...

Okay, enough is enough. I currently work at HotHouse and I consider myself a longtime friend of Marguerite Horberg.

I have to say that a lot of what her "support" has been told is so very untrue.

She isn't banned - on the contrary she is welcome ANYTIME. Out of respect for the rest of the employees at HotHouse I would rather keep any personal matters between Marguerite and the staff personal but she has done things that require one to rethink how "not-for-profits" are run and how dealing with peoples lives are carried out.

It is a bloody shame that many of you who have posted on this blog have NEVER been to HotHouse because if you had you would know without any doubt that there is NO CRISIS.

We are determined to honor the mission statement (which none of you "supporters" know) and be certain that we the staff of HotHouse will not let anything happen to Ms. Horberg's concept. Please stop playing games with "your friend" and BE her friend, don't turn her into a martyr.

There are many of you who hope that HotHouse/CIPEX falls flat on its face - it ain't gonna happen. There are some of you who work for HotHouse/CIPEX who hope that we the staff screws it up so badly that we'll have to close - it ain't gonna happen. At the end of the day the organization that Marguerite Horberg designed for the people has to return to the people. Marguerite is no dummy, she will continue to be a vital part of what goes on in this city and around the country - but not at HotHouse. Seasons change and so it goes...

Anonymous said...

that's some lameass shit - if the tables were turned marguerite would have been the first one coming to your defense or anyones aid and you know that because that is the facts/jack. now that she has been banned which she has -the locks are changed -my man...what does that say if not banned and her name dragged through the fuckin mud - and for what- what is the point - why is hothouse even put through this/ dont you even wonder who is behind this? and why? you all just go along with this bs for a paycheck -what a bunch of sellouts working for the man -Mario you are the first to talk all that radical shit but when it's time to really take a stand all like the Hothouse staff you have blinders on and have bought into the plan -wake up and walk out

Anonymous said...

Why should Mario walk out? You are very rude and emotionally, probably too close to the whole operation. Things change and I am sure the board had their reasons for what they done. The board members are not compensative and have no financial motive that would benefit them, there goal seems to me was to help the management and financial structure of the hothouse, which seems have been totally mismanaged over the years. Marguerite has had so many problems with the city and with paying bills; evidently she doesn't know how to manage finances which is why a business person is needed for the Hothouse. It seems the board made a good decision which should have been made a long time. Also, it seems she doesn't want to do what she does best which is the creative and philanthropic side. If she is so committed to the mission, why is she so against someone running the organization like a business instead of a running it financially in trouble every once in a while? She should be happy to do what she loves. I would.

Anonymous said...

K. Blaine Smith got it 99.99% right on! The commnet posted before Smith has to be either Horberg or one of her friends. I am just a former employee - and no, I dont feel safe using my name - cause I am afraid of being harassed at work, at home, etc by the bully tactics going on.

Reality check time! Horberg is a legend in her own mind and only those who have not seen the reality behind the scenes buy her phoney politically correct sound bites as if they were spoken from the mouth of the arts culture Messiah. Since cliches seem to be the language best understood by some writers here: You can only ride coat tails and pull the wool over the eyes for so long. Time is up.

Hopefully, the mom will not want to destroy her baby just because baby grew up and moved on - lets face it - sometimes the mom/kid relationship is powerful dysfunctional.

Actions and behavior will be the measure of the characters in this drama.

Anonymous said...

Wussup all?

For anyone who doesn't know me, my name is Timothy Bisig (Timo) and I was the Program Director at the HotHouse in 2003-2005.

I've been trying to stay as faaar away from this mess as possible, while secretly reading this blog and getting updates from people. I lived and breathed the HotHouse for the majority of the past 6 years, working 80 hour weeks, every day, every night, donating my time, my blood, my money, and my once-dark hair to this great organization. If there is anyone in the world who can speak about what goes on behind the scenes, what the finances are like, how Marguerite treats people---all of the questions and comments that people bring up on there---it is me.

I've always been a mediating voice, a compromiser, a dealmaker, and thus played a very important role at the HotHouse. As many here have stated in not-so-kind words, Marguerite Horberg is, well, one tough cookie (some might say a bitch). HotHouse was her baby and she handled it like that, and didn't take shit from anyone. It actually surprised me and many others how over the years she actually gave up a lot of her power, let others (particularly me) make decisions. I actually always felt bad for her, it was like she had learned how to make this thing work, she knew every job, but then she had to time and again become a teacher for all us kids who started there and knew nothing about what we were getting into. A true mentor who never wanted to be one, there are countless former employees who will cite HotHouse and Marguerite as helping them guide their lives and leading them to bigger and better things.

I started out there working at the frickin door for chrissakes. And slowly she saw something in me that helped me move from taking tickets to filing papers to being her assistant to planning almost everything that happened there. And I’ll address here a bit of my reaction to what I’ve been reading on this blog: what’s up employees?? Why all the negativity? It’s disgusting. I personally felt if from many of my colleagues there, who knew me as the kid-door-guy, and then couldn’t really take me as their superior. I never acted like anyone’s superior, I think I was very humble in my work, but there were always those there who didn’t like taking orders from anyone, especially a 27 year old kid. In general, there were always people there who liked to complain about everything, who liked to not work and then bitch about it. I’ve worked in many different settings, in different countries, with different people, and I can truly say that some of the staff at times—well, just really perplexed me. Maybe it isn’t a problem unique to HotHouse, more of a USA thing, but… something I saw there. Something that I never really let out, but was burned a lot inside when staff there would question my work or Marguerite’s work, when they had absolutely no idea the hours and hours put into making these things happen. They would then complain about “only” making X amount of dollars in a night, when that small amount would be way more than I made. For some, everything seemed about dollars and cents. And maybe it was Marguerite and mine’s lack of respect for the almighty dollar and its importance that is making all this happen … (damn commies!) And it seemed to only infuriate people MORE when in the last few years when she actually decided to get serious about money, to start charging promoters and clients the actual costs of putting on events at HH, to requite people to submit budgets, do projections, and actually run the place like an organization. Hello all staff from 2003-2005!!! Remember how it was us—NOT HER—that didn’t want to become more financially responsible. She beat it into us again and again, and as far as I’m concerned it was a lot of our lack of responsibility and over-spending that hurt the organization. How many times can your Exec. Director ask you for budgets and reports and you not turn them in? In the real world we would have all been fired. But not at HotHouse, not with Marguerite’s patience (YES patience), because in the end we were all after the same goal, we all knew it, and we all worked together to make it happen…

That was the game, that was the HotHouse, that was her life. Whatever it took, it was done, by her or by me or by one of her friends donating their time. We got shit done that nobody could have ever imagined. We went against all the odds, against all the projections, and made great events that people still talk about, life-changing moments for artists, patrons, fans, press, and staff. I'm very proud of my years there.

I look at all this fighting as such a horrible thing to happen to the place. Like we didn't have enough to struggle for already.


To the board members, all of whom I know on a very personal level, if you are reading this, all I can say is: bad move. I think you handled the situation extremely poorly. I know negotiating and working with Marguerite might not be the easiest thing, but I'm sure all of you now realize, even if it is hard to admit it to yourselves, that you fucked up. Perhaps the goal was not wrong, and I'm not arguing that one way or the other, but the method and the execution were horrible. As well, now that I've said that and now that it's been done, I do hope that you can find some solutions to keep HH going strong, with or without Marguerite. We all make mistakes. Its just the reeeallllyy biiiiiggg mistakes that get printed in the newspapers, get blogged about, get picketed and protested, and may eventually end up ruining an organization. Bad move. But again, now you have my support moving forward.

To the former staff members who have written nasty things here, to all the naysayers who post anonymous blogs, and of course to George Bush: GO TO HELL. Really, I can't fuckin believe some of the comments written on this blog. Talk about childish. People are really really really evil. Really. I found it hard to continue reading some of the stuff. People talking out of their asses about things they know nothing about. It was quite sickening. Again--and I hate to try to sound important, I'm not trying to do that at all--but NO ONE knows better than me what has happened at HH for the last 5 years, financially, staffing-wise, etc. So any comments that are left on here that are blatant lies, trust me, at least someone knows that and reads your shit and smells it for what it is. I've been there, in the trenches, making the organization run. Don't tell me who's stealing money, who's badmouthing people, who's running the place into a hole (or saving it). I know. You don't. And I’m the first to say that things were neeever perfect, and that I at times contemplated a cout d’etat as well—who doesn’t at their work? And so yes while I agree with some of the negative things written here, as I have to as I was privy to them, a lot of it is just plain lies and shit. Sorry to say it like that, but that’s the truth. If you have a problem with me saying it or a problem with me, write me at

To Gabriel, Julian, Peggy, and other current staff members bold enough to write on here, make their feelings known, and well just keep working under yet another crazy HotHouse situation and drama: kudos. Keep up the good work. If you all have been asked which side you fall on 100 times, trust me, I've been asked a million times, by everyone. And it’s not an easy call. I find it hard to believe that people "fear for their jobs", that the board will fire people if they openly take sides with Marguerite. How fuckin fascist has the organization become? I feel like its all "don't ask, don't tell", and many people’s reaction is "support the troops" because they are just hired workers. Well, anyone there for more than a few months knows this isn't every other job, you aren't just a hired worker, you are part of a family, that supports each other. And regardless of if Marguerite continues with the organization in some capacity or not, we should all support her in whatever way we can, just as she has with other former employees (myself included). Keep up the good work soldiers!

Damn… there went an hour of my life. I told myself I wasn’t going to get involved in this!

Anyway, I wish this had all never happened, and I hope that it can all be settled soon. There are many thoughts and feelings that I have about this that I didn’t say here, I don’t know why I’m even writing or saying the things I did. Gabe, I think your post actually inspired me to write a bit, gracias… and Julian’s and the other positives things. It’s also really interesting, after working with people, emailing them and stuff, that even when someone posts anonymous, its pretty easy to tell who it is, you know their writing style and everything… so to all you MFs who posted bad things (and who will surely rip me to shreds) I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!


Tasha Mesin said...

Mean spirts seemm rampant here from what I can see. Still, who started this stuff, who invited the comments? A blog gets started and opinions will fly, bad and good.

Did anyone who thought this blog was a good idea for Marguerite - that it would somehow be helpful to her believe that those who have unfavorable things to say, or who have an opinion different would not say their opinion? When they do they are called all sorts of names. I think that is basically facisit.

The early comments attack the board, complete with accusing them of reckless & provocative actions, calling them f**kers, idiots, etc, etc. Then, others then who have worked at Hothouse start telling what they think, about her ego, etc. Even some who are her supporters seem to say she is difficult - the person who posted before mine even said she so - and almost everyone seems to think she has trouble with the business part.

I have read the articles in the paper, the stuff here, and it just seems to me that no one wanted to hurt Marguerite Horberg but she sure seems to think so. That is why this blog got started in the first place - and for what end?

I think she was angry because they wanted to hire a business director who would not be controlled by her or have to take orders from her and would report to them instead. Really,BIG DEAL! It could be they thought it had to be done this way - which is their right. The board wanted to have her focus her vision - and here, this is the words from the president of the Hothouse board, from the letter posted on the blog (I copied and pasted them) "providing you with the opportunity to focus on those skills and strengths that are your forte, namely your artistic vision, protection and advancement of the HotHouse mission, and entrepreneurial spirit".

I might be missing something, but this sure does not sound like them trying to do her wrong or be unfair.
What on God's earth is the problem with what they wanted to do? Why bother to have a board if the only opinion on how to do stuff is her opinion. It makes no sense and seems contradictory.

I think there is a huge manipulative effort to paint this in a black & white - good v. evil sort of way - how dare anyone question - how dare anyone do anything anyway other than whatever it is she wants.

I think the loyal former employee -Tim - I am sure you are really nice and really sincere, and can understand your reaction having read your blog. You were blessed to get a chance to do something more than tickets, resposnbile stuff. I believe she was an important influence - I dont think anyone has ever said she was worthless. Her ideas, her brilliance that way - was being valued and again the board wanted her to focus on that stuff.

Really though, all of us, including Marguerite Horberg, have to take some responsbility for their own decisions, choices, actions , and stop blaming others, stop making others seem evil, stop trying to paint everyone else as ignorant, incapable, sellouts, etc. She choose the direction, she choose her reaction to a the change the bd wanted. Seems like her choice was to scream, shout, go public, point fingers, berate. This is what I see from what I read.

Anonymous said...

Tasha your points are right on target!

Timo, since you were so instrumental in the development of the HotHouse and believed in its Mission, why are you not still there?

Easy to talk about your accolades when you are not around during the storm. I applaud the staff that is making Hothouse work during this difficult time. Kudos!

a customer said...

I have been going to the HotHouse for three years and have been a member for two. I don't really know Marguerite.

I read Tim Bisig's comments with interest. It sounds like he was a significant part of the staff until he left in 2005. I am taking exception to his complaint that some staff members were concerned about how much money they made a night. It is so self-centered of him to complain about the money worries of others. If he was salaried HE would get the same pay no matter what business was on a given night. If he was paid hourly then HIS 80 hours worked a week would include overtime pay. It is easy to claim that you have a "lack of respect for the almighty dollar and its importance" when your end is covered.

I, for one, will continue to support the HotHouse and what it offers (BIG smile).

Anonymous said...


Its too bad that you still do not recognize when you are being used! She saw in you what she saw in a lot of good natured people. She saw she could get you to work and sweat and actually feel like she "saw " something in you. She did. Chump!

Anonymous said...

Its so obvious that there are people who support Marguerite. It is also very obvious that there are a whole lot of folks who do not support her. They offered her a job. She refused it. Thats her problem. Why did she refuse it. Because she does not want anyone else having a say. Especially about money. We should start a website on all the people that she has ripped off or owes money too can write and tell their stories, as well as her good long time friends that will support her even though they know she is a major rip off when it comes to money.

Anonymous said...

I think the board of directors did the right thing. That being said, there is no reason for anyone to lack civility and no need to fling insults. The problem with this blog is that it really did not focus on being objective. Over and over, some of the folks who have posted comments have engaged in truly ugly behavior on this blog. I suppose it is the nature of the thing.

Now, I use to work at the HotHouse also. While I do not agree with Tim Bisig's comments posted here, I think it wrong and counter productive to insult him just because I strongly disagree with his views.

For anyone else wants to comment and who is tempted, based on their emotions, to fling insults, please, think again - state your opinion but take the high road. Insults, profanity, and other disagreeable behavior is not approriate, even if you think it deserved.

Tasha Mesin said...

I could not have said it better myself - except for the part about having worked at the Hothouse. I just listen to music, hang with friends, indulge a bit, relax. Think I will go look at the web site now to see who is there tonight. I should plan better. I am thinking about having my wedding there cause someone told me that if it does not interfere with other more important programs, they rent the space also and inlcuding weddings. Mine will be on a Sunday in September, 2008.

Anonymous said...

Are we all invited (blog writers) to the big event? Congrats!

Tasha Mesin said...

I think I better create a blog called "my wedding planning commitee" before I am rightfully accused of going off topic!

Tyehimba Jess said...

My name is Tyehimba Jess. I am a poet who was lucky enough to find a place like the Hothouse back in the early 90's, I was lucky enough to find my way to the poetry there, the music, their incredible collaborations with the Guild Complex and the AACM. It was only later that I recognized that these institutions, particularly Guild and Hothouse, were critical learning institutions for me as a developing writer.

I was also in Chicago when Marguerite had to close down the Hothouse from its Wicker Park location and do the most incredible non-profit feat that I think I may have ever witnessed, by reestablishing the Hothouse 2 years later in a bigger and better, and riskier spot - and she made it a roaring success.

From what I have read about Marguerite, I think it is clear that she had a lot of rough edges on her. I am sure that her money was funny sometimes, and I feel sorry for those who got stiffed on their paychecks for whatever reason.

I am not clear on everything that happened with the Hothouse. I am sure that she stiffed some folks and was brutal in her negotiations with others. But, along the way, she was able to provide Chicago with a very precious space - one where folks from all over the city could come and enjoy a multicultural, artistic, electric, progressive dialog with the artistic community - this in a city that is so severely stratified along the lines of race and class. EVERYONE was welcome there, and, because of the high quality of programming and innovative events, damn near everyone came to the joint - at least those who were trying to get hip.

I went away or a few years and came back. During that time, this - what shall I call it - coup? By the recent board of directors served to derail the mission of the Hothouse by eliminating the very person that founded the organization. Yes, I know that the Hothouse is the collective result of more than one person - but let's face it. Without the rough edged, willing-to-piss-you-off, creative-fiscal-management of Marguerite, there would have not been ANY Hothouse for the board to be on.

What a shame. I have heard people talk about Marguerite's Hubris. Well, I really can't imagine being asked to serve on a board, and then having the gigantic nerve necessary to then fire the person that kept the organization breathing for 20 years - someone who had put their entire life into the place. Sorry, I just ain't got that kind of nerve on me. I mean, damn.

You know what the board of directors could have done, instead of helping to dismantle one of the best venues in the country? THEY COULD HAVE RESIGNED. That's right. It's not like they were actually getting paid to be on the board, right? It's not like they actually had a TWENTY + YEAR STAKE in the organization, like Marguerite. But no, they decided that this organization which had been piloted by an extremely successful manager for the last 20 years was going to do much better under their leadership. Well, I have just taken a look at the Hothouse calendar for this month: EMPTY. I think that says a lot for the lack of profile that the new leadership has given Hothouse.

You know what else they could have dome if they wanted to kick her out on her ass? They could have had the decency to leave her the Hothouse name. That's right - it is called branding. Horberg spent YEARS building up the Hothouse name. If the board of directors is so f-in much better than her, then they should at least be able to start a similar club without stealing the name that she helped build for so long. Also, shouldn't they want to distance themselves from the legacy of a director/founder whose management style was so corrupt that they had to fire her from her own organization?

I really lament the loss of Hothouse. I know that you can't go home again, but it seemed to me that Hothouse was one place that made Chicago so much more valuable to me. And now when I think of the Hothouse, I think of betrayal and pettiness. I don't know if I have it in me to go inside the place where the music would be soured by the tinge of betrayal.

Best wishes to Chicago.

Tyehimba Jess

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