Latham St. Commons

We are building a resilient and sustainable ecosystem of people working together to address all of the factors affecting access to good health—social support, health care, education, diet, employment, air and water quality.

Mapping Social Capital

Creating social capital maps for the areas surrounding Latham Street Commons has allowed our group to explore community resources, services, and context.  This has deepened our understanding of relationship networks for people living and working in this area.

Penn Ave acts as a suture for the two distinct socio-economic zones. The range in colors reveal the wide gap in property values and vacancies between Bloomfield/Friendship and Garfield. The main street gives access to the community’s social capital and transportation to resources outside of the area. Penn Ave has been successful in attracting prominent businesses, employment centers, and other valuable resources to the residents of the three boroughs. Primanti Bros is opening a new location on Penn Ave, the first one in 2 decades, adding to the already rich and diverse restaurant scene on the avenue. Quality coffee shops like Artisan and Voluto and tea bars like Bantha Tea Bar also attract many residents in close neighborhoods. A whole series of arts galleries and performance centers like Assemble, The Mr. Roboto Project, Level Up and The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination have opened along the street. 

Building on the current burgeoning business landscape, there is an opportunity to create greater connectivity between these communities by continuing to activate Penn Ave. In the process, it is important to keep in mind an important issue that the current residents seem to be worried about: gentrification. Safety issues should also be tackled in order to provide the right environment for change.

Latham St Commons is a "Point of Convergence" as it sits where the three boroughs meet. A positive intervention there could have a ripple effect that benefits the members of these communities. The amount of vacant lots in the area, mostly located in Garfield, shows the reality of the gap between it and its adjacent boroughs. These could also be used to bring more resources into Garfield and reinforce positive changes.

In terms of food access, we mapped the main locations below:

  • Grocery Stores (On Penn Ave): ALDI, People’s Grocery, Le’s Grocery, A&M Market About a mile from Latham St Commons
  • Whole Foods (Shadyside), Giant Eagle Market District (Shadyside), Shursave IGA (Bloomfield)
  • Food Bank: East End Cooperative Ministry
  • Gardens: Octopus Garden, Garfield Community Garden, Black Street Community Garden, Borland Garden

Though there are groceries within a mile of Latham St Commons, Garfield sits the furthest from markets selling fresh foods, and is considered a food desert. Food deserts are categorized by a lack of access to fresh produce and wholesome foods. They are common to find in lower-income areas where access to foods is confined to processed items.  

Finally, many organizations with a Community Uplift mission are strongly present in the area:

  • Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation: Located on Penn Ave. The BCG works with youth for educational and employment services. They have a health program in partnership with UPMC/St. Margaret’s. They have a partnership with Urban Redevelopment Authority that they use for revitalization of community. They create/promote affordable housing.
  • Garfield Jubilee Association: Employment, educational services, housing
  • Neighborhood Learning Alliance: Focus on African-American youth and families
  • Small Seeds: Social services
  • Eastside Neighborhood Employment Center: Workforce development

In summary, the Garfield area seems to be in a stage of rebirth, and Latham St Commons can play a crucial role in supporting this movement.  

Witnessing Change, Effecting Change

Posted by: Ivy

     On Thursday, February 2nd, a community meeting was held at the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh, located in the neighborhood of Friendship. The turnout was impressive, and the familiarity, welcoming atmosphere, and warmth that permeated every aspect of the room was remarkable. Tales of aspiration and dreams for the community were recounted, with successes and setbacks recounted equally, but all with a spirit of optimism and cooperation. It was inspiring to be present for such an ongoing.

     Kristin Hughes gave a presentation of Latham St. Commons at this meeting, and as such, Francis Carter and the students of the stakeholder group from the Designing for Community course were present. The community reaction to Kristin’s presentation was positive and optimistic, and seeing the reactions of people who will be impacted by this project is invaluable to our design process by the dimension it adds to our perspectives. The individual reactions of these students to the meeting (And other experiences in the surrounding area) will be recounted below. Moving forward, with more community engagement, to not only those of the Friendship community, but to the communities of Garfield and Bloomfield as well, we hope to be able to create a complex and nuanced vision of the connections and relationships that make up these vibrant communities, gaining perspective from individuals and organizations alike.


     As I reflect on what I've learned about food and community over the past few weeks, I realize that education has the potential to be very impactful to change daily diets for better wellness. I've learned about nutrition-caused diseases which are the leading killers of Americans, and real foods and the health benefits associated with them. I've noticed that real foods are not mainstream in American food culture and that most foods are mass manufactured and heavily processed and include chemicals and artificial elements. I recognize that this food culture is definitely in need of a transition towards more local, natural, healthy, and moderate consumption. This transition could take place through community-based skill sharing and education and support. The question is, how do you start building community around food? 

     I think some ideas to help build community is to create a safe space where people can dabble and expirament with food. This could be experimenting with a garden, bottling baby food,  cooking, making, and selling food. If the community could show support for pleople in these experimental phases, then perhaps the experiments will excel. 



     Our group decided to grasp the opportunity of participating in the community meeting this past Thursday where Latham Commons was presented. It was great to see the enthusiasm and support given by those in attendance.

     Particularly they loved the idea of a common kitchen where food preparation training can occur. Maybe this can become a community gathering space where seniors can meet and learn proper diet skills? What if it becomes a cooking workshop or after school Home Ec space?

     Before the meeting I spent some time at a a local tea bar (Bantha). It was super small and intimate, the perfect setting for learning more about the area. It is a very welcoming space, and a unique experience. Along with their unique teas, the bar also sells food prepared at other restaurants in the area. In a sense, they are a hub for local goodies. What if our space can provide a hub for the experts in these local businesses to hold workshops. 

     We should try to make deeper connections with the businesses, see where links can be made between them and start to create a loop back to Latham Commons that will act as the communal space for all. 


     The community meeting on Thursday was my first exposure to the people who initiated changes to the Latham St. Commons area. I was surprised by the number of people who gathered at the meeting as well as the extent to which the community participants communicated with each other to construct a positive communal experience. The meeting was another chance for me to witness the stakeholders of our community and how each stakeholder interacts with one another. I realized that volunteering and self-sacrifice plays a essential role in such community activities. Everyone that joined the meeting on Thursday were investing personal time to develop the community into a safer and healthier space.

     I noticed, however, that the meeting did not expand upon issues like education in the community. There are numerous schools, hospitals, daycare centers, etc... that could be used as learning centers for children and young adults regarding food safety. I felt that it is difficult to construct a community immune from the evolving nature of food in today's agricultural industry without the proper bedrock education. 



     Change is a difficult abstract to contemplate. It can happen so gradually one might doubt they had ever witnessed it or with such violent rapidity it may render the world nigh unrecognizable.  To witness change occurring with such distinct character, and in such a democratic and cooperative manner as I witnessed in attending this community meeting was inspiring. Every individual present in the room had taken time from their schedule to commit towards the benign development and progress of their community. To see people, each with their own ambitions and desires, applauding the actions of others, and offering time and resources to realize these causes recalled the adages of change as the mutual and simultaneous transformation of self as the path towards a better future.

     As it pertains back to Latham St. Commons, it brings to mind that this space could become innumerable in its effects upon others, a space that could effect change, both personal and social. In the education and development of healthier eating habits, personal change becomes possible-change that may scale, as it ripples outwards, gathering in momentum, becoming social change. Simultaneous, in a space that effects such transformation and impact upon the lives of citizens beyond their home and work loves, we see the development of a Third Space [1], a space of innumerable potential where interactions become unbound to dualistic assumptions and restrictions that fetter empathy and communication, particularly across social divisions. Moving forward, engaging more community members at an individual scale and a greater engagement of local organizations to begin to weave a complex braid of social interactions into our role in Latham St. Commons can flow, and one day realize Latham St. Commons into the Green Braid [2].


Oldenburg, Ray. The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You Through the Day. New York: Paragon House, 1989. Print.


Tanzer, Kim, and Rafael Longoria. The Green Braid: Towards an Architecture of Ecology, Economy, and Equity. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Hot Tea & Warm People

I needed some coffee last Sunday before starting my day (it was 4pm...) so I decided to head up to Artisan on Penn Ave and take a few minutes to talk to the bartender about the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it was already closed so I ended up at getting coffee at Bantha Tea and it was surprisingly good coffee for a tea place!

I started talking to the lady working there and explained the work we're doing with Latham St. Commons. She was very nice and open to talk so I asked her a few questions about herself.

Meet Marny!

  • In her early 30s
  • She's not originally from Pittsburgh but she currently lives on Penn Ave and previously in Friendship
  • She works at Bantha Tea and at the Thomas Merton Center
  • On a typical week, she goes grocery shopping at the Aldi on Penn Ave, goes for walks very often (up to East Liberty once a week), goes to work, eats out at least once a week (Apteka)
  • She often participates in protests (anti-racism, gentrification), supports the community landtrust (helped restore transit to the area), helps out at the Bloomfield/Garfield Corporation, goes out to bars like brillobox and community events, takes dance classes at Level Up, goes to 1st Friday, goes to see movies at Row House…etc
  • She learns about events mostly online but also through friends and community billboards
  • One personal object that she really cares about is her photo album. She loves photography because it captures tim. She also loves street art (and she's really upset that it's being erased in her neighborhood)

To sum up, Marny is an active member in her community, she cares about preserving it and she loves spending time around it!

Side note: please try Bantha Tea! Really good tea, really cheap in a really cool place. 

Yinz Eat Here

This week, I told my friends I was looking to interview someone in the food service industry that lived in Friendship or Garfield. By chance, a classmate offered himself as a subject and we scheduled a time to talk.

Nick grew up in South Pittsburgh and our conversation included a discussion of his time as a stock boy at a Giant Eagle in Castle Shannon, his time as a caseworker with Catholic Charities where he served SNAP recipients and regularly interacted with food pantry programs, as well as his recent experiences shopping for food as a resident of Garfield.  As a new resident of this city, I am extremely grateful to him for sharing these experiences. 

One of my first questions was to ask how living in different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have affected Nick's access to different foods. His answer led to further discussion about some neighborhoods being more connected to infrastructure than others.  When his family was living in Brookline with intermittent access to a car there was no direct access to a grocery store via city bus.  Instead, his mother would take a bus downtown then transfer to another one, adding two hours or more to every grocery shopping trip.  While neighborhoods have been described as food deserts based on distance from grocery stores, bus routes can still determine the severity of isolation from goods and services.

Before ending our conversation I asked Nick what his favorite Pittsburgh meal is. Turns out there is a place called Tom's Diner in Dormont that he has frequented at least once a month since he was 12 years old.  He recommends the Gyro Fries.  I hope we get to continue our discussion about food over a meal there soon.

Our community circle grows

Over the course of the past week we spent some time getting to know people in our community. These may be people we interact with often, or those we greet in passing. Here are some of their stories. 

Making small talk with a local business owner was a learning experience. Se-Kyung, co-owner of "Seoul Mart" on Fifth Ave., talked about her experience of operating a business as an immigrant. She discussed about how difficult it was for her to blend in into the community when she first got to Pittsburgh in the late 1990’s. As a local market owner, Se-Kyung believes maintaining a positive relationship with the neighbors is crucial to her business. Over the years, Seoul Mart has become one of the most popular locations for Koreans in Pittsburgh to purchase food. 

Familiarity and exposure to the community draws people back to Seoul Mart. Seoul Mart has a strong and bold identity amongst the local neighborhood, and people trust the owners of the business. Providing nutritious products and services for the community is a primary objective for this course. Nonetheless, it is also important to strategize on how to become a local brand. 


This is Audra. She currently works as a Crew Member at the Trader Joes in the Village of Eastside at 6343 Penn Ave. here in Pittsburgh. She is also a practicing potter, and an experienced art educator. She currently teaches ceramics classes at the Union Project and at the Carnegie Library Braddock, and has taught ceramics at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts School in the past. She initially involved herself at Trader Joe’s due to their policy of offering a starting hourly pay of $9 with $0.60 raise every eight months for employees, until the employee is earning $48,000 a year, as well as offering free dental and vision care to employees who work more than 15 hours a week-excellent opportunities by the standard of any American business industry. Audra maintains connections throughout western PA, as she is originally from Altoona, and is well involved in the Pittsburgh arts and arts education culture, frequenting artist networking events and . She is also a resident of Garfield where she and her husband JP own a house, and she hosts stall at the Garfield Night Market during Unblurred first Fridays. She typically hosts her pottery at this stall exclusively, but has shared her space with other artists before to allow their work a platform to the public. Audra is a very optimistic person, and values hard work and friendliness, but has a realistic view in the lack of opportunities that often face the economically disenfranchised, people of color, and LGBTQ identified persons.


Kaylee interviewed an entrepreneur and local business owner named Chris. Chris owns Green Light Juice, a juice bar that uses organic produce to create nutrient-rich juices and smoothies. He uses a cold press process to avoid loosing nutrients as is common in more heat and blade-based processes. Providing nutritious food is important to him. He also uses his store front as a CSA pickup space for local community members so that they can have access to locally grown produce. Chris feels that it is important to be involved in the community. He and his juices participate in about 50 community events per year. 


If you have ever eaten at the cute French crêperie cafe in Oakland, then you have definitely had a treat worth having. The atmosphere is great, for small intimate gatherings, interviews, and quiet reflection. However, the large amounts of people bustling in and out tend to keep the owners and employees fairly busy and flustered. I would like to say I had a great interview experience like my teammates where I found out a lot about the person I interviewed, but that wouldn’t be the reality.

I suppose I could have left and set out to interview someone else, but I think there is value in the experience I got.

The owner’s wife, whose name I will leave out for the purpose of this blog, seemed to have been flustered. Initially she declined having a conversation with me saying that they were too busy. I explained that it wouldn’t be anything extensive and would just like to know when they opened, if they love the community they work in, and how they try to tie in with the community.  I guess I can’t complain about the brief response I received: they opened in 1998, loved their location in Oakland, and try to buy locally when they can; she is not originally from Pittsburgh, but her husband is. Other than a few shifty eyes, that was all I got out of her.

Besides the basic info gained from the interview, there was a lot of valuable informal information gathered from this situation. I think the employees were taken back with the fact that I came in wanting to speak with them. The cafe is so perfectly set up to support intimate gatherings as they serve you, that it must not be common for them to be hosting the conversation as well as serving. In fact, as I type this they are going through the motions of their daily tasks- leaving little room for an out of the ordinary response from those they are serving. If I had to put myself in her shoes I would say that the small staff, and small café setting are all great in appearance but do tend to foster a workaholic, robotic, personality.

Serving the community (delicious and well worth it, healthy, comforting meals) 6 days a week, would put a toll on anyone. I wonder just how much more energy she can possibly foster to put back into the community when she is off? Do her and her husband live near their store, or are they from another part of Pittsburgh? Besides feeling busy and flustered, has anything else led to her curt response? Observing her for some time, I think I have come to the conclusion that she may not have been openly friendly with me, but overall she provides a friendly environment for the community she serves. 


An Everyday Lunch

For this post, I decided to document a lunch that I'd make for a normal day at school.

Here is a picture of the ingredients, minus cream cheese that I couldn't resist to add later...

The calories breakdown is as follows:

1/4 avocado        80

1 cup of salad (spinach, arugula, and the purple thing)            7

1/3 tuna can         60 

1 naan bread        137 

1 teaspoon of unsalted dry roasted sunflower seeds          ~30

1 teaspoon of dried cranberries for the taste           8 

1 teaspoon of pesto           40 

1 teaspoon of cream cheese           ~20 

TOTAL = 382 calories

It's not too bad in terms of calories! However, I was thinking about the ingredients and realized that 50% of them were heavily processed, the tuna was in a bpa can and the pesto + cream cheese could have been substituted for only pesto or cream cheese, or even nothing at all. Ultimately, it was an ok lunch, didn't take too long to make, not expensive at all but could definitely be enhanced in terms of "Healthiness".

Here is the result after assembling:


P.S: I was so involved in making this sandwich and it was so warm and appealing that I ended up eating it right away... (10am). 

Pigging out on Pamela's

Just like Primanti's, Pamela's is a staple in Pittsburgh. Your mornings haven't been fulfilled until you give it a try. They have been serving "the best breakfast" in Pittsburgh since 1980 and I will show you how. I highly advise you go check it out for yourself, but be warned, you will need lots of will power to stop you from going back within the same week. 



A bit of history curtesy thanks to the Post Gazette:

For opening day they bought a dozen plates. "Customers stood in line outside the door, while we were inside crying because nobody could eat until those 12 plates were washed and dried," Gail remembers.

"We pooled the money we made on the first day, went to a sale at Pottery Outlet in Murrysville and bought more plates. Cups, we had. Back then, the breakfast special -- eggs, home fries, toast and coffee -- went for 99 cents. Bacon was 10 cents extra." (can you imagine?!)

Their unique "Crepe Style Pancakes" aka Hotcakes, are one-of-a kind. My favorite: the Strawberry Hotcakes! Stuffed with fresh strawberries, brown sugar, sour cream (though I never add this) and topped with whipped cream- it is the perfect breakfast for someone with a sweet tooth...ME!

Just remember: it is cash only! Pretty old fashioned right? They even hand write names on scrap paper. Talk about old school! ;) By using just cash, Pamela's has been able to keep costs lower and provide higher wages.



Finally, here is some pretty nifty news: "President Obama and his wife Michelle have been long time Pamela’s enthusiasts, ever since his first visit to our Strip District location on Primary day in 2008.   Since then he has made sure to mention us, or has endeavored to frequent one of our restaurants each time he comes to Pittsburgh, PA."

"Where" Are You Eating?

By Ivy Faye Monroe


During the first meeting of 51-366 :: Designing for Community, a studio course through Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design that will be participating in the development of the Latham St. Commons project, the students took part in an exercise to discuss where the food we eat originated. For vegetables, where were they grown? For meats, where was the animal raised, where was the meat packaged? For breads, where was the wheat grown, where was it baked?

Bringing this experience home with me, I resolved to attempt this exercise for all the ingredients of a meal I cooked on my own. I applied this exercise to cooking a breakfast sandwich. The ingredients, and their sources are as follows:

½ Red onion, chopped and fried                -         Origins: ??

                           Distributed by Topco Associates, LLC

                           Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

                           Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                           $3.00 for 3 lb. Bag

1 Potato, peeled, diced, and fried             -         Origins: Idaho

                                                                                       Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                       Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                       Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                       $5.00 for 10 lb. bag

½ Green Bell Pepper, chopped                   -    Origins: ??

                                                                                        Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                        Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                        Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                        $1.00 per lb.

2 Eggs, fried                                                       -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Giant Eagle Supermarkets

                                                                                         Pittsburgh, PA 15213

                                                                                         Purchased at Giant Eagle Market District

                                                                                         $3.50 for 1 dozen eggs

Mozzarella Cheese, 1 handful                     -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Trader Joe’s

                                                                                         Monrovia, CA 91016

                                                                                         Purchased at Trader Joe’s Village of Eastside

                                                                                         $3.50 for 12 oz.

1 Wheat Bagel, sliced and toasted            -         Origins: ??

                                                                                         Distributed by Trader Joe’s

                                                                                         Needham, MA 02494

                                                                                         Purchased at Trader Joe’s Village of Eastside

                                                                                         $3.00 for bag of 6


What I began to discover as I cooked my way through this meal is that the true origins of the foods I consume, even with the most seemingly innocuous foods, is totally opaque. With the exception of the potato, which I know was grown somewhere in Idaho’s 83,569 sq. miles, I have absolutely no idea where my foods originated. I do not know if they were grown locally, or even if they were grown somewhere on the American continents. While I am certain that all these foods are all completely safe to eat, I find it totally fascinating how easy it is for me to exist so divorced from the sources of the very substances which keep me alive. I am not yet sure how this line of inquiry will inform my shopping habits to come, but I know that I will not look at the food I eat quite the same anymore.

Primanti Bros. Experience

Primanti Brothers is not the fanciest joint in Pittsburgh. It does, however, represent an urban spirit that resonates in Pittsburgh. As soon as I entered the restaurant, the manager kindly greeted us into our spots. People were enjoying light drinks at the bar, making small conversation with the workers.

The Ham and Cheese sandwich that I ordered was not the best sandwich I ever had, but it was definitely worth the trip. The white sandwich bread was packed with thick layers of cabbage, tomato, egg, ham, cheese, and a large serving of signature french fries. It was quickly served and extremely filling. The serving was appropriate for a regular meal.

Most of the food on the menu costs around seven dollars, which is definitely cheaper than getting a large sandwich at The Exchange in the Tepper building or any type of meal in the University Center.

The immediate perks of this local joint was obviously its proximity to both the CMU campus and to other local shops in Oakland- desert shops, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and bars for college students.

Primanti Bros. is not the place to go to get a gourmet dish. It's casual and cheap. The interior design and decoration of the building adds a light tone to the general environment of the restaurant. It's a place where you can have a casual conversation with a friend while also having good food.

This experience at the Primanti Bros. made me realize that the primary service the restaurant provides is not only the food, but also the space it creates for customers to socialize in. Its accessibility, reasonable pricing, and quality of food makes Primanti Brothers an ideal location for friends and family to occassionally meet. 





Cooking “Kickin’ Collards”

Last week, when a professor of mine handed me a bag of collard greens, I was determined to make something delicious with as little waste as possible.

The collard greens had been purchased at the East End Food Co-op, and originally grown by Lady Moon Farms.  These leafy greens came with a recipe attached to the zip tie that also labeled them. The recipe is on the Lady Moon Farms website as well under “Kickin’ Collards” and calls for bacon, two cloves of garlic, an onion and chicken broth along with some pantry items.  I added a can of beans too. 

As a student, I try to use short and simple recipes.  I knew that collard greens would need to be cooked for a long time to be tender but I didn’t realize I would be able to leave them on the stove and walk away to take care of e-mails while they simmered for 45 minutes.  Suddenly a long cooking process didn’t seem so tiresome. 

Ultimately this recipe resulted in four servings and a bag of vegetable ends that I will freeze and use for a vegetable stock at a later date.  While it was more time consuming than what I normally cook for myself, there was a much larger yield and I’ve frozen two servings that I plan to eat later in the semester when I have less time to buy produce.

- Emily W.

The serving I ate right away is not pictured

The serving I ate right away is not pictured

Chicken Soup

By Jessica Sved

This weekend I decided to make myself some chicken noodle soup. I've been trying to kick a cold for a week and thought to try a classic sick day food. It was my first ever attempt and I wasn't following a recipe, so the measurments and ingredients are not traditional. I got everything for it at Giant Eagle. My monetary and nutritional values are all approximated, but I tried to be as accurate as possible. 


2 chicken thighs (~$1.75)

1/2 bag of egg noodles (~80 cents)

2 cans of chicken broth ($2)

some cabbage (less than $1)

some water (basically free)

spices I already had (basically free)

The soup cost less than $5 to make and I got about 3 servings out of it (so $1.67 a bowl). I looked at the Campbell's chicken noodle and a can of that costs only $1 and supposedly has 2 servings in it. While the canned soup was more economical, I've never really been a fan of them. Making it myself felt healthier and natural, too. So I got curious about whether my assumption of healthiness stood up to the nutrition facts.

I approximated that a serving of the soup I made was about 374 calories, while Campbell's boasts 70 calories per serving. Although I would say a whole can is equivalent to a serving for me pushing it up to about 140 calories for Campbell's. My soup was approximately 407 mg of sodium. Campbell's label says 940 mg of sodium per serving, so a can has well over 1,000 mg of sodium. 

It really only took about 20 minutes and I knew more of what was in it than I would've with a can. Collectively, the ingredients list on the can definitely included more unknown chemicals than the lists on the noodles or chicken broth. I probably could've even reduced the overall price and done it more "naturally" by buying chicken with bones and using the bones to make my own broth. 

In the end, even though making the soup myself cost more money and time, it was the healthier and more satisfying option. I feel as though it probably tasted better than canned soup, too. However, I don't know if I would've chosen the can over buying ingredients if I didn't hate canned soup so much since the upfront price looks better on the can. 

Beans, Beans, Beans

By Kaylee White

The other day I came home with a bulk bag of dry white beans from the East End Food Co-op, a nicely packaged bag of dry beans from Giant Eagle, and a can of organic wet beans. Needless to say, I was going to have some beans this weekend. I decided to make the beans from the Co-op because I assume that the beans from there are going to be the best of the bunch. I soaked the beans overnight and then boiled them for 3 hours. Then I fried them in some olive oil with onions, garlic, spices and kale. The resulting dish was fun and new for me.  

The beans tasted fresh with crispy skins and mushy insides. It was tasty, however, I don't think I would make this a regular meal. The preparation of the beans forced me to stay indoors for hours on a nice day while the beans boiled. I also had to schedule a more specific dinner time than usual, when I'm used to being able to eat and run on the fly. 

I have to ask myself, which is better, eating less healthy and somewhat wasteful canned beans conveniently, or eating more healthy and tasty time-consuming beans? Do healthy, natural foods and convenience have to be opposites? It seems that with the fast-paced lifestyle that I live today, eating and preparing natural foods is harder to do. 

This experiment made me step back and think, should I slow down my speedy lifestyle so that I can take the time to benefit from better foods? As the adage goes, you are what you eat, right? 



The course will utilize social innovation principles and practices while striving to bring sustainable solutions to a grassroots community space through a series of integrated strategies. The initiative—Latham St. Commons is a newly formed non-profit social enterprise. They dream of being a learning laboratory where neighbors go to build relationships with each other and their surroundings, so the community, as a whole, can discover healthy ways of living that work for them. Their goal is to provide both social and economic opportunities through a variety of programming, community health services, teaching facilities and rental units to shelter new social enterprises.