Tag Archives: Eastside Food Co-op

Amy Fields Builds Eastside Food Co-op as a Vital Community Resource

When you think Eastside Food Co-op – think ROOTS.  First come images of root vegetables – carrots, beets, yams, parsnips, radishes and all of those staples of the summer garden and the winter dinner table.

When Amy Fields speaks of roots it’s about the roots of the EFC itself, the core values that have shaped the community resource since its beginning,  Like those vegetable roots, the vision of the Coop is sometimes buried, more visible in a flourishing program than in the ideas that  lie beneath the surface 

When the first shoots of EFC sprouted in 2003 and for the first few years of operation, the focus was on the tangible — the plant sale, the farmers’ market, building a revenue stream and a sense of community among the thirteen neighborhoods, the schools, nonprofit civic and service organizations in Northeast.  Always at the root were the implicit core principles of training and community building.

As the store has grown and the revenue stream has stabilized EFC is able to focus on the less tangible but no less real goals of the cooperative.  The developments are visible.

  • Outreach opportunities, particularly with education and training programs.  EFC’s services now reach an area that incorporates Columbia Heights, Roseville, and St. Anthony Village with programs such as the Senior Wisdom Program in Roseville, classes at Northeast and Pillsbury Schools and start-up support for the new co-op on the Northside.
  • Expanded collaboration with a wider range of community organizations, such as the Northeast Regional Library and Neighborhood Healthsource and the University of Minnesota on a shared approach to identifying and meeting the health and nutrition needs of the area.
  • The success of the Recovery Bike Shop which has led to meeting the interests and shopping interests of a common customer base.
  • The popularity of the Yoga  Studio and the wellness program as prime services of the EFC.

By far the most visible is EFC’s development of the Granite Studio as a major community gathering place for learning and community building. 

  • The popular Indoor Farmers’ Market. 
  • Monthly movie nights, third Thursdays at 7:00 p.m, have become a community staple.  EFC has hosted a powerful program of community film screenings for adults and children – all free and open, complete with popcorn!
  • Northeast Network sessions that meet the second Thursday of every month, 7:30 -9:00 a.m. offer a unique opportunity for Northeast neighbors to explore a range of community options and concerns – from development of the Mississippi, to the arts agenda, to the impact of Census 2010 findings.  Northeast Networks provide a venue for concerned residents to learn, to share experience and ideas – not to mention energy.  Elected officials participate as learners and listeners.  All ideas are welcome.  Again, free and open to all, complimentary tempting treats provided.  Though the program ends by 9:00 sharp, the discussions continue and the ideas that flow are better informed and often reinforced and expanded as they mature.
  • The Granite Studio has also been the venue for countless groups ranging including a USDA hearing on meat safety, meetings of the Northeast Investment Cooperative and the Sierra Club, Art-A-Whirl events and a recent kickoff for Altered Aesthetics.

 One subtle service of EFC that caught my imagination was the Co-op’s support of local musicians.  Because the music played on the market’s audio system must be licensed, EFC offers an easy option.  Local musicians are free to upload their digital offerings to the Co-op which will then play the music on the in-store system.   

The fertile minds of Amy Fields, her staff and board seem to know no bounds. 

Right now they are planning EFC’s participation in August Eat Local Month.  One feature of EFC’s participation will be a special thank you to Co-op members – a generous bag of EFC groceries for members participating in National Night Out , August 7, 2012 – one way Amy wants to thank the people who share by supporting the Eastside Food Co-op on a regular basis.

The harvest of services, programs and ideas implicit in the  seeds of those original core principles is plentiful indeed.  This community is enriched by the Eastside Food Co-op.

Contacts:  info@eastsidefood.coop

www.eastsidefood.coop

 

 

 

 

 

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Whither Shoreham Yards – blight or boon to Northeast Minneapolis

The ongoing saga of the future of Shoreham Yards is as complex and tangled as the map of the 230 acre railroad yard that has taken up a generous expanse of Northeast Minneapolis since 1888.  In recent years Canadian Pacific Railroad has operated the sprawling train, trucking and bulk distribution site that was once the major switch point for trains headed from the grain mills on the Mississippi to the East Coast. Since the mid-1990’s the Yards have been at the center of a host of controversies involving affected neighborhood residents, the entrenched  railroad, anxious developers, concerned environmentalists, health authorities, architectural preservationists and a parade of elected officials.  Though the Yards incorporate the land from Central to University and 27th Avenue Northeast to St. Anthony Parkway much of the discussion about disposition of the area focuses on an area known as “the teardrop” and on the historic Roundhouse.

For the driver speeding past en route to elsewhere, the Yards are a passing curiosity, a maze of interlocking tracks, parking lots, some outbuildings and a neighborhood eyesore.  In fact, the Shoreham Yards represent one of the last vestiges of the prominence of Minneapolis as a transit center.  The facility once served as the primary locomotive repair and maintenance facility for the Soo Line Railroad and its predecessor, the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railroad.

A unique feature of the Yards is the 48-stall Historic Roundhouse, constructed in 1887.  Preservationists are particularly concerned about the Roundhouse/ which was designated early in this century as a Minneapolis Historical Landmark. In 2003 Shoreham Yards and Roundhouse were named one of the state’s Ten Most Endangered Properties by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.  To this day the Roundhouse is closed to the public, visible only from a distance over a fence west of Central Avenue and 29th Avenue.  Dan Haugen, writing in the Northeaster (reprinted in the Twin Cities Daily Planet) in 2007, offers an excellent review of the history and current status of negotiations regarding the Roundhouse.

Preservation is but the tip of the controversies surrounding the future of the Yards.  A portion of Shoreham Yards is a designated Industrial Employment District in the Comprehensive Plan for Minneapolis. This designation means that the City will support redevelopment of the area for new light industrial business that provide high job density, good wages and low impact on the surrounding community The City of Minneapolis has outlined a number of potential redevelopment scenarios for the section of the 2008 Shoreham Yards, including the Roundhouse,  in the Shoreham Yards Roundhouse Reuse Study, a living document that is updated regularly on the Community Planning and Economic Development website.  An important recent development is posting of Request for Proposals for two parcels of Shoreham Yards, one including the Shoreham Roundhouse.

Much of the discussion relating to the disposition of Shoreham Yards focuses on pollution, particularly dust from activity in the Yards, as well as appearance and safety issues related to unlocked containers near public streets.  Arguments rage about the contamination of the major aquifer essential to long-term and emergency water access./ Neighbors have also complained about trash deposited on the grounds.. Health Consultation documents have been produced by the state and federal government/ These and hundreds of environment related documents are available on the Shoreham Depository document site which also provides an excellent list of state and corporate contacts.

An important player in the deliberations is the Shoreham Area Advisory Committee (SAAC) formed in 1998 as part of the court settlement between the city of Minneapolis and the Canadian Pacific Railway, an agreement that related generally to demolition of various Shoreham buildings.  The SAAC which meets monthly includes city, railroad, neighborhood organization, business and community members.  Notes of SAAC’s activities over the past dozen years present a vivid record of the work SAAC has done to explore economic, environmental, preservation and other issues.  A 2008 note reports that “Shoreham on Central and Roundhouse is listed as a ‘transformational, once-in-a-generation’ opportunity in the city’s Small Area Plan.”  \

One recent initiative of the SAAC is the Nine Lives Project.   Artist Foster Willey has created one of his “Made in Minnesota” posters featuring icons of the historic Shoreham Roundhouse.  Tax deductible purchases of the Nine Lives Project poster support the work of SAAC.

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The Eastside Food Co-op is taking affirmative action by providing an open forum on Shoreham Yards for the community.  The Other Side of the Tracks is the topic of EFC’s December Network. It’s Thursday, December 9, 7:30 a.m. in the Granite Room at the Co-op,  2551 Central Avenue Northeast, just North of Lowry.  It’s free and open. Good Parking.  MTC #10.

Residents, policy-makers and others concerned about the process, proposed plans and potential problems may wish to consult some of the key online resources linked here or join the exchange on  E-Democracy* (http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls-ne).   Each presents a unique perspective on a complex issue that has profound long-term consequences for Northeast Minneapolis.

Library Friends sponsor book sale

No excuse for readers in Northeast Minneapolis to run short of books this winter!  Friends of the Northeast Library are arranging truck routes, sort plans and volunteer work schedules for the celebratory book sale set for December 10th and 11th at the Eastside Food Co-op, 2551 Central Avenue Northeast.  The book sale celebrates – and will help to fund — the Spring 2011 re-opening of the Northeast Library which is currently being renovated and generously expanded.  Northeast Library is part of the Hennepin County Library System.

 

The book sale begins with a preview sale for members of the Friends, the Library Foundation or Eastside Co-op on Friday, December 10, 2:00-8:00 p.m.  The general sale is Saturday, December 11, 10:00-5:00 p.m.  On Saturday book buyers will have a chance to participate in another celebration, the 7th anniversary of the Eastside Food Co-op, replete with entertainment and taste treats.

 

Friends of the Northeast Library is one of several Friends groups that has received organizing assistance from the Library Foundation of Hennepin County which has much to celebrate itself. Recently the Otto Bremer Foundation has awarded the Library Foundation of Hennepin County Library a grant of $50,000 to support local Library Friends groups.  The Professional Librarians Union of Minneapolis (PLUM) has also voted to give slightly over $83,000 to the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.  A portion of that gift is specifically given to support formation of Friends groups for community libraries.

 

For more information about donating gently-used books or to volunteer to help with the sale contact northeast@supporthclib.org.

Silver Angel in the Wings

A photo of the small Silver Angel Thrift StoreBack in the day I loved to stop at the Silver Angel, a great thrift shop on Central Avenue with roots in several Northeast Minneapolis churches.  Until now, I had thought that the Silver Angel had folded her wings and silently stolen away.  Not so.  Tom Dunnwald’s great article in the Eastside Food Co-op News puts my mind at rest.

Laura Murphy, manager of the East Side Neighborhood Services Thrift, 1928  Central Avenue NE tells the story.  When the Silver Angel lease was up the store joined ESNS as a nonprofit organization committed to sharing proceeds with Eastside programs.  “They still have the support and interest of several area churches and their congregation which accounts for their good selection and quality, according to Dunnwald.

Though the annual winter coat giveaway is history, the ESNS staff and volunteers welcome tax deductible donations, recycled clothing, household goods, antiques and collectibles — and customers.  They are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 10-6, Wednesdays 10-7 and Saturday 10-5.  Find the ESNS thrift shop on the web, email thriftstore@esns.org or call 612-789-0600