Jessamyn Rodriguez from Hot Bread Kitchen and the team behind Shoots and Roots, a handmade bitters company, talked about what it means to be in and of Harlem, what inspires them about our neighborhood and why Harlem makes sense for our businesses. We discussed the challenges of keeping alive handmade traditions and staying true to our origins. How do you improve business without losing the charm of the neighborhood? How do new businesses not compromise the establishments that have existed for generations? What do you do if the community doesn't embrace you or how do you find a way to show your good intentions?
This week, all over Harlem we saw how these questions don't always matter. HBK and Shoots and Roots operate out of La Marqueta on Park Avenue and 115th Street, a historical market that has been the home to food artisans since the 1930s which also happens to be a block away from the East Harlem collapse. Being so close to the scene at 116th and Park, both organizations as well as others were not only the first people on the scene to assist in whatever way they could, but also able to witness firsthand just how important the feeling of community is to Harlem. Neighbors were making medical masks and tourniquets, pedestrians were accounting for missing children.
But Harlem is more than just a neighborhood. As my friend Nate Lucas reminded us all on Thursday, it is a spirit, a feeling and a piece of each person that has lived or worked here. There is a pride and swagger that we each have and despite the challenges of metropolitan grit, gentrification and tragedies it will always exist.
Please consider attending our benefit to help the victims of the East Harlem explosion. VIP tickets can be purchased for $350 here and general admission tickets can be purchased for $175 here. Proceeds from the benefit will go to the American Red Cross in Greater NY: East Harlem Collapse Relief.
*The American Cross is used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, individual or political position.
For more information about the American Red Cross in Greater New York, please call 1-877-REDCROSS or visit us online at www.redcross.org