Hello from Ohio! I am in the Midwest to visit markets, talk to organizers and market advocates, all of the while depending on the kindness of friends with extra rooms and air mattresses during this long visit.
In between two Saturday visits to the Chillicothe and Athens markets respectively, I traveled up to Cleveland to visit other Ohio food and farming leaders. I have written about the innovative and inclusive approach that Cleveland and its region has taken to food organizing on this blog before. Today, I sit in my hometown of Lakewood in a place that I admire deeply and that I come back to on every visit. I use it daily to recharge my local food energy and to note how Lakewood continues to lead the way in the revolution in food and civic work in the area: The Root is a vegetarian cafe and coffeehouse which evolved from the owners’ earlier fair-trade storefront located a few doors down that was called Phoenix Coffeehouse. I found Phoenix in the days after Hurricane Katrina when I evacuated to the area and felt renewed and comforted by the care the owner showed her customers and her workers.
I wrote many of my Katrina articles there and used the Internet to reach out to my friends and neighbors to decide what to do about a new home and not least of all, to decide what to do about our beloved farmers markets that that lay dormant while we recovered.
The coffeehouse was always full of different generations that represented the many levels of affluence from none all of the way to too much that Lakewood has in its 50,000 people. The culture is welcoming, indicated by the headphone-wearing young uns mixed with the moms and toddlers to the daily domino-playing men at the back table. It was clear that the values were transparent and deep and unlikely to be shoved aside for added money. The new place is exactly the same in tone but with more seating, larger menu and added staff.
Why this should be important to my public market audience is that when I talk to market leaders I find that many of them isolate themselves from people who could be peers and support their efforts and their plans.
There are business that now exist that share our commitment to community and regional wealth which includes social and human capital and we should build deeper relationships with those folks. It’s not all about funding either; it may be a job share program, or a marketing campaign or just a coffee check in once in a while. Remember: We are not alone.
The Root was manifested from the desire to create a familiarity among all people. A common foundation for diversity to exist peacefully is the root of our community. We create this foundation by sharing culture, music, art, coffee, tea, food and all energy in Lakewood, Ohio.
Many local craftspeople, friends and family put their skills to work to make our cafe a warm, organic and enlightening place to be.
We are dedicated to sourcing ingredients that are local and organic. We get produce from local farms when in season. Some of our veggies even come from community gardens and farms in Lakewood. Look for dishes using in season heirloom vegetables.
Our vegan and vegetarian baked goods are made with love, in small batches, using whole wheat flour and organic and local ingredients when available.