I proposed that we get some food and cook at my house. In looking up the directions to Whole Foods, the new Whole Foods in Newark popped so we decided to go see it. It is in the old Hahne's Department Store building, vacant for decades, but finding new life. The Whole Foods is an anchor for the new mixed use neighborhood the planners are developing in that area. We walked in and David was impressed by palatial size and cornucopia of food. I'm more used to suburban Whole Foods -- it didn't seem that different from the store I usually go to in West Orange. Except of course, place is everything, and looking out the massive windows onto Military park, being in the heart of downtown Newark in a place I visited as a child but lose to me for a long long time, was very special.
|New Whole Foods Market on Broad Street in Newark|
As David was getting some roasted red pepper hummus for our snack, I saw a guy wearing a tee shirt that said, "We out." -- Harriet Tubman. I am doing a project called "400 years of inequality," which calls for an observance of 1619, when the first Africans arrived in Jamestown to be sold into bondage. What better tee shirt that than one? I debated asking him if I could take his picture, but eventually worked up my courage. I explained the project and the tee-shirt guy and his friend were immediately intrigued and starting sharing their projects -- including bike tours of the Central Ward. They also explained that the tee shirt was one of many connecting current expressions to historic figures. they pulled up the shirt for Rosa Parks, which says, "Nah."
|Paul in his tee shirt.|
Then they started to talk about their delight in the Whole Foods, and how it was creating a safe space for Newark intellectuals to encounter each other, and promote a conversation about the future of the city. They credited Mayor Ras Baraka with this great step forward. And it was so resonant with the experience in the community-supported general store in West River, Vermont.