For many immigrants with hopes of making a living off farming, owning and operating a farm can seem like an impossible task between startup costs, attaining Minnesota agricultural knowledge and finding a market for produce. The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) works to alleviate some of these challenges by offering an in-depth, hands-on farm training program for immigrants, refugees and other individuals from historically marginalized communities. As part of this program, many Somali immigrants, including Naima Dhore, have been able to find success in organic farming, sustaining the food system and carving out a niche for immigrant farmers to develop and hone agricultural skills. “The most important piece in the process for me has been letting [members of the East African community] know where their food is coming from and what their responsibilities are in terms of taking care of this planet that we all share,” said Dhore. “That’s the biggest takeaway.”
Along with a team of artists, organizers and educators, poet Keno Evol held the first Because Black Life Conference in the Twin Cities. The conference focused conversation around issues that impact black communities in our neighborhoods and making space for networking, healing and community building. “Black thought, black people and Black concerns. This is a bridge for networking which we will leave, perhaps, with mentors and mentees. We want to have community engagement initiatives from our conversations. Continue Reading
It was one of the last hot days of September, and an impromptu group of people gathered underneath a big “EVERYONE WELCOME” sign on the front of the brand new green and beige building for a press conference. The Seward Friendship store was set to open by the end of the week. It was the new branch of one of the largest co-ops in the country, right on the border of the Bryant and Central neighborhoods in South Minneapolis. The area is both home to a critical mass of the city’s low-income communities and long-time home to many of Minneapolis’ people of color.
The press conference was not without tension. Activists from CANDO, the neighborhood group representing South Minneapolis’ diverse Central neighborhood, had spent all summer knocking on doors trying to get neighbors interested in their petition. At the time, earlier in the summer, chances seemed slim that anything would happen.
“We don’t have any leverage,” I remember one of the CANDO faithful telling me at a meeting a few months before.
By July, negotiations had fallen apart between the neighborhood groups and The Seward Co-op. The new store on 38th Street was in the heart of the South Minneapolis food desert and along one of the city’s few historically African-American business corridors. For most of the summer, the parties seemed far apart on the key issues: hiring practices that reflected the diverse demographics of the neighborhood and discounts on food and membership for low-income neighbors. In fact, the two sides couldn’t even agree on what to call a potential agreement: CANDO was demanding a CBA (community benefits agreement) while the Seward staffers had, for a while, offered an MBA (mutual benefits agreement). Neither side was happy with the other’s position, and after a few heated and unproductive community meetings, the official word from Seward was that they were not going to sign anything before the October opening of the new store. Any agreement would wait until next year, months after the crucial hiring had been completed. That timeline did not sit well with concerned neighbors. Continue Reading
On Tuesday, August 25, 80 people gathered at Olson Townhomes to participate in the North Minneapolis Laotian Garden Tour. Laotian gardeners led neighbors and fellow gardeners through dense rows of long beans, hot peppers, Vietnamese mint, cucumbers and tomatoes. Channel 5 and channel 11 also came. After the tour participants enjoyed delicious kou pun curry made with vegetables harvested from the garden
The garden tour was organized to highlight the importance of the garden to the Laotian community. The Laotians hope to be able to preserve the garden even when the construction of the Bottineau LRT and related development comes. Continue Reading
The city of Minneapolis is anxiously anticipating the opening of The Sioux Chef’s first venue: Tatanka Truck. Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) made waves over the last year by introducing his unique approach to Indigenous cuisine. Born and raised on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, he attended college at Black Hills State University. Part of his drive to create an Indigenous cuisine, free of processed sugars, dairy or flour, came from just being a chef in Minneapolis since the early 2000s,
“I had been cooking since I was 13 in the Black Hills, in tourist restaurants. And I thought It was silly that there was no Native restaurants,” Sherman said. Continue Reading
Organizers of a fast-food worker strike scheduled for later this month say the strike threat prompted McDonald’s to announce it is giving workers a pay raise. However, the strike is still on because the raise is not enough and most McDonald’s employees won’t get it.McDonald’s President and CEO Steve Easterbrook announced on Wednesday that the company would be paying workers at least $1 more than the local minimum wage starting in July. McDonald’s will also let workers who have been with the company for more than a year earn up to five days of paid time off each year. However, that only applies to corporate owned stores. There are three corporate owned stores in the Twin Cities area — two of them in Minneapolis — with the rest owned by franchisees. Continue Reading