Alumni Programs

Skills for the New Local Food Economy: Stories from former members of the Flaming Eggplant Café

Time: 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM

Room: Flaming Eggplant Cafe (CAB 304)

Session Description:

The Flaming Eggplant Cafe is a student-run worker collective serving healthy, local, seasonal food to the Evergreen State College. Using a consensus driven model, students work collectively to manage the day to day operations of this on-campus restaurant. In addition to their jobs as prep and line cooks, cashiers and baristas, students also hold leadership positions within committees, developing skills in finances, outreach, ordering, human resources, and food quality. We will hear five graduates speak about how their involvement with the Flaming Eggplant influenced their current work in the fields of food, agriculture, policy and cooperatives.

Facilitator Biographies:

Sarah Rocker

Sarah Rocker: Sarah is the staff Advisor to the student-run Flaming Eggplant Cafe at the Evergreen State College. She serves on the board for CoFED, (Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive), a national organization that provides leadership and training support for student-driven food service on college campuses. For the past 3 years, she’s assisted her husband, Erik Hagan, in the operation of Delphinia Community Farm, where she specialized in growing culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers. She is a co-founder and board member of the West Olympia Farmers' Market, and an active member various local organizations, including the Thurston Food Systems Council and McLane Grange. This past October, she attended the 2012 Slow Food International Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy as a U.S. Delegate on behalf of the Washington/Alaska region. Sarah holds an M.A. in German Studies with a focus on Intercultural Communication from the University of Colorado and is completing her Master’s in Public Administration at Evergreen this June, with research in local and regional food systems. She will begin her Ph.D. in Rural Sociology at Penn State this winter.

Anna Isaacs

Anna Isaacs '11: Anna started working with the Flaming Eggplant Cafe after being inspired by her work with co-ops in Venezuela. Since graduating, she has been the Northwest Regional Organizer for The Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED). There, she has been able to facilitate a network of student-run food co-ops as well as offer cooperative development services to these groups. Recently, she has become co-director of CoFED and is coordinating the organization's programs nationally. She hopes that this work will expose more students and college institutions to radical and cooperative development.

Micheal Snow

Micheal Snow '12: Micheal worked at The Flaming Eggplant for more than three and a half years. He worked as a general coordinator for the café, “personnel” logistics like hiring, scheduling and conflict resolution, and finances. While working at the café his studies at Evergreen became increasingly more centered around economic democracy, alternative development, and alternatives to capitalism. Since graduating in Spring of 2012, Micheal joined a new collective working to create a cooperative restaurant in downtown Olympia. They recently decided to move forward with buying a local breakfast restaurant currently in operation and plan to turn it into a collectively run, worker-owned business. The project has a focus on creating better food, supporting local agriculture/production, social justice, economic democracy, and the development of other cooperatives in our region that could provide more satisfying work for more people. His knowledge, interests and skills are primarily in collective organizing with an emphasis on consensus, finances and horizontal organization development.

Grace Bell

Grace Bell '11: Grace was born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula. She graduated from Evergreen in 2011 with an emphasis in Political Science and Latin American studies. Her passion within political science is studying the relationship between workers and the their workplaces.
Grace has spent time traveling in Venezuela, Mexico and El Salvador. Studying cooperativism in Latin American led her to realize that cooperatives provide a transformational structure to evolve from capitalism to socialism. Grace currently resides on the Olympic Peninsula in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. She works at Nash's Organic Farm.

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