Think Global, Design Local

Barra Mansa GoldenFarm3Ten years ago, we moved to Kensington, a neighborhood right in the center of Brooklyn N.Y. With no car, we were grateful for a certain conveniently located grocery store with a wide selection of international foods and decent prices. But we quickly realized that Golden Farm was far from golden. Some examples: Customers attempting a return for any reason were always refused. It often got heated; on occasion perishable foods were on the verge of their expiration date and fruit would never last more than a day or two after purchase; the cashiers never gave you your receipt unless you asked for it; and I had my own run-ins with the store management, most notably when they tried to charge me for a small container of hummus that fell and broke open in-store, that was arguably not even my fault. But did I mention that the store was convenient and had no real competition?

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http://barbourdentalcare.co.uk/author/dentaldesign/ So if they treat their customers badly can you imagine how they treat their workers? The community found out about a year ago when workers sued the store’s owner claiming (among other violations) that they were being paid well-below the legal minimum wage. Community groups stepped up to help represent the workers, and a unionizing effort was initiated. Read all about it here.  A big boycott ensued. Some progress was made and the boycott was called off. But that wasn’t the end of it…

http://mcgaryaudio.com/index.php?option=com_jce Heading home recently on a late summer evening, my twin girls who are three, wanted ice cream. I  turned the corner where Golden Farm is located. That’s when I discovered the boycott was back on again. Eleanor, a community organizer (see Facebook post at left) was there. We started talking and she filled me in on the latest. I offered my design services. She took my info. And the girls and I went across the street to the pharmacy and bought our ice cream there.

That night I created some designs for buttons that are now circulating around the neighborhood. I am happy to be able to contribute to a good cause within my local community and to support the workers. And for me, this all started with a small container of hummus…

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