Stories from the corner of 37th and Nicollet

Acknowledgments for the Green Path

I joined a dozen restaurant owners in Washington DC this past month to be acknowledged for the hard work of running a restaurant designed around high roads practices and standards.  I was reminded of how good it feels to have someone thank you for your efforts.  I found myself enjoying the attention, and yet (true to my Nordic roots) a bit humbled and struggling with being singled out when I know so many other restaurant owners who work as hard or harder than I do.  I also was keenly aware that although it was “me” standing up on the platform, the award was for the restaurant and that represents countless supporters who have created what Butter Bakery Café is about. 

So, like an author writing an acknowledgement page, or an actor’s acceptance speech, I’m feeling moved to list all who make an award like this possible.  (and I apologize if I seem to have left you out…)

First, my family – my wife, children, siblings, my stepfather, my in-laws, my uncle, nephews and nieces, and the memories of my parents, all who play a role in the shape of the shop and in their love and support for me.

My staff – present and former (now up to 180 individuals) who’ve been the hands and heart and talent that create what we are and produce.   We actually do make it all by hand!

My neighbors and network of friends, my congregation members at Our Saviour’s, and the thousands who have wandered into the café looking for service, who cheer us on, hold us to our vision, and participate in changing the food system by investing in our efforts to build community.

My vendors, suppliers, farmers and producers and service providers for their high quality ingredients and talented service who have invested in our story and in their own practices so that we can share in this mission.  I especially thank them for their grace in helping me keep Butter Bakery Cafe growing through all the ups and downs of running a business.

My shop would not be in the position it is without the advocates, organizers and elected officials who listen and push, who craft and create policies that move our mission forward. Whether it’s food justice, housing affordability, transit, health care, childcare, worker rights, gender justice, education, environmental or arts issues, we’re all in this together.

A special shout out to the interns and staff of Nicollet Square and the Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative who are the inspiration for getting this right.

To all who share in our vision of a sustainable food system in livable communities where equity thrives, for helping me know that I’m not alone and in moving me along the path through your own modeling and successes.  Even if we never meet your impact is still felt here.

And to the earth itself and its ability to nourish us. We are so grateful for the intricate web of ecosystems and creatures that all play a role in what lands on the plate and fills the cup we offer to our customers. We live in the midst of abundance, resilience and beauty.