Think Global, Design Local

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?

GoldenFarmButton

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…

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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