Riverside Cafe: The Evolution of Food Politics

Riverside Cafe: The Evolution of Food Politics

In this video, former Riverside Cafe collective member Mary Alice Smalls reminisces about the evolution of the food served at the cafe. The cafe began with an emphasis on vegetarianism and affordability, and then changed with the community’s greater awareness of the value of local and organic food and the plight of farmworkers...

Another Side of the Peoples Warehouse Takeover

Another Side of the Peoples Warehouse Takeover

Earlier today we posted an excerpt of our interview with Gary Cunningham that included his description of what it was like to be part of the Co-op Organization’s (CO) takeover of the Peoples’ Warehouse in May of 1975. Here’s an excerpt from our interview with Ken Logsdon about what it was like to be one of the people that the CO kicked out.

Minneapolis Mayor's Husband Breaks Marxist's Arm Defending His Co-op in Street Brawl!

Minneapolis Mayor's Husband Breaks Marxist's Arm Defending His Co-op in Street Brawl!

Yes, it’s true, and yes, it happened in 1976, when Gary Cunningham was still a teenager. The Marxist in question was a member of the Co-op Organization (C.O.) who had come to attack Gary’s uncle Moe Burton and to take control of the Bryant-Central Co-op, which Moe had founded.

Bryant-Central: Three Tries at a Co-op

Bryant-Central: Three Tries at a Co-op

“No one would ever mistake Moe for a hippie.  But I think he liked that service part, and I think it was part of his whole life's arc. That he moved away from that serious revolutionary political stuff, more into a service role. Trying to be more effective. Trying to be more productive.”

Co-op War I: Stalin vs. the Finnish-Americans

Co-op War I: Stalin vs. the Finnish-Americans

The “Co-op Wars” story which we are covering in Radical Roots had an interesting parallel in the 1920s among the first wave of food co-ops in Northern Minnesota, in which another Communist autocrat tried to take over the co-ops for his own purposes. Except this was no secret leader of a tiny sect, this was Joseph Stalin himself...

 

The Midcentury African-American Co-ops of the Twin Cities

The Midcentury African-American Co-ops of the Twin Cities

 So right as this old wave is coming to a close, at least for the grocery co-ops, the folks in your documentary are first getting the idea that maybe we should just put some food out on a porch or we should find a way to do this at cost. It’s an interesting notion that as soon as the one wave recedes the other one starts to pick up the pace...

Mao in the Co-ops

Mao in the Co-ops

Interviewing many co-op founders, it has been striking that so many young radicals of the time were so inspired by Mao and the Chinese revolution. While the glum bureaucracy of the Soviet Union was hardly compelling, the apparent energy of the Chinese revolution, along with the Marxist revolutions throughout the Third World, seemed like a viable alternative to American capitalism and imperialism...

Two Ways to Peace: Draft Resistance and Co-ops

Two Ways to Peace: Draft Resistance and Co-ops

Many of the people who started the first natural food co-ops had cut their teeth in, or at least been inspired by, two other movements: the Civil Rights movement and the movement against the Vietnam War. Dave Gutknecht, longtime editor of Cooperative Grocer, was instrumental in the Twin Cities Draft Information Center, which was founded in 1967 and destroyed by a bomb blast soon after...

Co-op to Co-op Trade: Fair to Farmers, Good for the Rainforest

Co-op to Co-op Trade: Fair to Farmers, Good for the Rainforest

Equal Exchange’s history of co-op-to-co-op partnerships stretches back to its founding in 1986.  Back then, three coworkers in a cooperative produce distribution warehouse wanted to find a way to connect U.S. consumers with the smallholder farmers growing their coffee.  In defiance of the Reagan embargo on Nicaraguan products...

African-American Cooperation in Minnesota: Mutual Aid in the Early Years

African-American Cooperation in Minnesota: Mutual Aid in the Early Years

Radical Roots: How far back does cooperation among African-Americans in Minnesota go?

Tom Pierson: As soon as people are migrating into Minnesota from areas like Missouri and other places South for the most part, there are efforts at mutual aid. One of the common things that there is research on and there are publications on is clubs, societies and fraternities and these mutual aid societies that exist. In some ways those mutual aid movements are similar to the cooperative movement. 

Drug Enthusiast Hobbit Cabbie Explains the West Bank to You

Drug Enthusiast Hobbit Cabbie Explains the West Bank to You

Interviewing people for Radical Roots, we heard time and again about the incredible energy and creativity taking place on Minneapolis’ West Bank in the late 60s and 70s. Having worked or volunteered at West Bank countercultural institutions created in the 70s like North Country Co-op, the West Bank School of Music and KFAI Community Radio, this was not news to me...

A Song and a Dream

A Song and a Dream

Another clip from Ed Felien’s Georgeville commune film, featuring a lovely song that, for me, epitomizes the optimism and confidence that allowed some in the Baby Boom generation to believe they could remake the world, which in turn allowed them to create so many things that we take for granted these days (like natural food co-ops).

Watching this Spider John Koerner / Willie Murphy Video from 1969 will be the most fun you'll have all day

Watching this Spider John Koerner / Willie Murphy Video from 1969 will be the most fun you'll have all day

At least it was for me, and I had a pretty good day. We’re digging into the great Minnesota music of the 1970s for use in Radical Roots, especially the work of Willie Murphy. Willie’s band Willie and the Bumblebees (better known as Willie & the Bees) seem to be omnipresent in our research on the early food co-ops.