In 2018, a small coalition of community members in Washington, DC came together to help raise funds for a local and minority owned small business that has provided affordable groceries to the underserved in our community since 1984. In the spirit of this community-organized effort, Mariel Garcia, a local community organizer and activist, created Punk in the Produce as a means to support small and locally owned businesses by challenging traditional narratives around community, space, and what it means to be a neighbor.
In this one of a kind event, local bands played in the produce section of a local grocery store, demonstrating the unique cultural impact that can be made through grassroots coalition building. We worked to modernize the store, storefront, and community space and worked with a coalition of nonprofits, community members, and artists to achieve this.
In the DC area and in many others many small businesses struggle to adjust to the changing demographics, increasing rent, and property taxes. The everyday maintenance required to run a small-business often gets in the way of planning for long-term changes in the structure of a business model. We strive to empower citizens and families of communities so they can be proud of preserving the cultural uniqueness and vitality of their neighborhoods.
It is our hope that the Punk and the Produce model can be applied in other cities and neighborhoods and welcome any and all collaborations.