Prism schism 2: Parties seek resolution

Though tension has been thick at the Prism Coffeehouse for the past two months, it now appears there's hope for a peaceful resolution between the feuding factions. At an April 6 meeting, according to several in attendance, both sides agreed to enter mediation.

On one side: current and former Prism volunteers and donors who feel that artistic director Fred Boyce and his domestic partner, Prism board member Kenyon Hunter, have "hijacked" the nonprofit coffeehouse by doing away with volunteer elections, and that Boyce has intimidated fellow board members and volunteers with his vitriolic outbursts.

One such outburst– a phone call to Prism supporter Jim Quarles– was caught on tape.

"You're nothing but a f***ing poseur," screamed Boyce, who was upset that Quarles and his wife Gloria had resigned from the board after telling Boyce they believed the board was "bogus."

On the other side: Boyce, Hunter, who– their supporters say– have put the Prism on the map through their hard work.

"They make that thing happen," Prism board member Joe Ayers said of the two last month. Boyce has declined to speak with the Hook.

The Prism might not have happened at all if it weren't for the support of Westminster Presbyterian Church on Rugby Road, which has offered the Prism subsidized rent in a large white house at 214 Rugby since the coffeehouse's 1966 inception. Some volunteers have expressed the fear that the church will not support the Prism through this conflict. The church's Prism Building Committee had scheduled a meeting during the week of March 28, but church representative Anne Hedelt could not be reached by press time.

Quarles, the owner of Harvest Shelter, a private foundation that grows and donates food to the homeless, says he believes the church wants to see the Prism functioning within its bylaws and that it will stand by as volunteers and board members work to make that happen. Mediation, he says, is a "very positive step" toward that goal.

"I just want to see the Prism returned to the community," Quarles explains.

At an April 20 meeting at the Prism, the mediation– conducted by a yet-to-be-chosen firm– may begin. Former volunteers Mary Anna and Mike Dunn say the primary goal of this mediation will be to determine who is eligible to select board members and to help conduct a "fair election."

All sides have issued calls for anyone who has ever been involved with the Prism to show up there for the discussion. The event begins at 7pm.

Prism soul-searching set for April 20