Friday, January 08, 2010

Dec. 09 New Orleans Food Co-op Sunday Grocery press coverage


“Co-Workers: NOFC Sunday Market”

The following article by Alex Woodward originally appeared in the Gambit on Dec. 28, 2009.

The corner of St. Roch and St. Claude avenues is a food desert. The neighborhood lacks healthy and affordable foods and groceries and is pockmarked with fast-food restaurants and corner stores. But if you open the door of the former Universal Furniture megastore, with its logo still stuck to the building’s side, walk past a few art installations and through the door on your left, there’s hope.

The New Orleans Food Co-Op held its first market day on Nov. 22 inside the New Orleans Healing Center, the furniture store-turned-community center that houses an art space, workshops, the New Orleans Police Department’s 5th District, and now, a weekly buyer’s club for co-op members. The center’s across-the-street neighbor, the St. Roch Market grocery, remains closed and in disrepair. But once a week, the co-op makes boxes of fresh local produce from the Hollygrove Market & Farm and other healthy, natural foods available — to its members.

“We can’t retail to the general public right now, but our members are really excited,” says co-op board of directors president Michael Smith. “It’s something they’ve been asking, been waiting to do. It’s a long and complicated, difficult organizational and fundraising project to open and run a community-owned grocery store. Most people became active and engaged with the co-op because of interest to get healthy food now, and access to local, healthy foods in the neighborhood. This is Phase 1 … until we get the grocery store open.”

While the co-op is still planning for 2010, the Sunday market offers a temporary solution for the remainder of 2009 and the beginning of next year.

“There are two things happening,” says co-op board member John Calhoun. “We’re finding a way to offer a much-needed service now, especially in that neighborhood where there just aren’t healthy, affordable groceries — or just groceries. I hear about people doing their shopping at Walgreen’s or driving across town, and that’s affecting people’s health.

“It’s great for outreach; people get to know who we are and learn about our plans. They associate the co-op with food and not just meetings and fundraisers.”

The Healing Center, which opened this summer, reached out to the co-op to offer it a home base while the center undergoes renovations, which are expected to start by February. Plans include space for the 5,500-square-foot full-service grocery store, which Smith hopes to see in place by November. The grocery would offer “local and natural, healthy foods and products and some conventional items,” he says.

For now, the Sunday market is only open to the general public on the condition shoppers make their payment to join the co-op. Membership requires a $100 capital equity investment, which allows members to participate and give equal voice in board elections, run for positions on the board and vote on other issues. Members also can enroll in a five-month, $20-a-month plan, and low-income members can apply for a five-month, $5-a-month plan. “We’ve tried to open it up a bit and not make it too prohibitive,” Smith says.

Before the Sunday market opened, the co-op offered a once-a-month buyer’s club, where members could preorder bulk purchases via the co-op’s Web site and divvy the orders among members. “But not many people were utilizing it,” Calhoun says. “They had to drive to a location, order in bulk … but it was better than nothing. It gave people a start in what it’s like to work cooperatively.”

Members told the board a grocery was needed, and the co-op took the Healing Center’s offer.

“Having a co-op fit into (the center’s) mission as far as a ‘healing’ center,” Calhoun says. “That was a leap for us, having a real live grocery store, so we decided to go for it.”

The co-op first organized in fall 2002 through a series of community meetings and through meetings with the then-startup New Orleans Food & Farm Network. Public meetings stirred interest, followed by fundraising efforts and volunteer support. “There was a lot of excitement,” Calhoun says. “People wanted a co-op for various reasons: to support healthy food, support local food productions, or to keep money local and support the local economy, or they just wanted an alternative. People wanted a place where good food was affordable, not just to some people but to everyone.”

A co-op wouldn’t be just a neighborhood store — with each member holding a stake in the market. It literally belongs to them.

“You can shop and go, ‘This is my store, not because it’s down the street where I live,’” Calhoun says.

Organizers introduced a buyer’s club and by 2005 developed a business plan and secured enough capital to open a storefront within a couple years on Elysian Fields at Chartres Street. Hurricane Katrina disrupted the co-op’s plans and forced it to start from scratch, with members and organizers no longer in town. The co-op partnered with the Crescent City Farmers Market to offer mobile markets out of a tractor-trailer and later reintroduced the buyer’s club.

Now with a home inside the Healing Center and more than 500 members behind them, co-op organizers are working on preliminary store designs and gathering market research. Smith and Calhoun look forward to the co-op grocery’s opening, which market coordinator Elisa Miller says is now a matter of “needing more time than money.” Providing for a neighborhood with few healthy options couldn’t come soon enough.

Inside the market, a few visitors measure sunflower seeds, cornmeal and walnuts from bulk bins. Citrus from Braithwaite is in one box, and fresh baguettes are in another. There’s a debate over mustard green origins. Miller does the accounting in scrapbooks.

“We’re learning how to serve New Orleans,” she says.

____________________________________

“New Orleans Food Cooperative Begins Operating in the Marigny”

This article originally appeared Dec. 17, 2009, in New Orleans City Business, written by Emilie Bahr.

The long-in-the-planning New Orleans Food Cooperative took a significant step forward last month when it began operating a Sunday afternoon “buyers club” out of the former Universal Furniture building at 2372 St. Claude Ave., the eventual site of a planned multipurpose healing center and full-service grocery store.

Since Nov. 22, those with active co-op memberships have been able to purchase between noon and 6 p.m. each Sunday such staples as fresh produce, laundry detergent and dog food from the store, one of the few outlets where such items are available in the neighborhood.

“It’s extremely exciting,” said co-op President Michael Smith, who called the move an “intermediate step” on the road to opening a 5,500-square-foot, seven-days-a-week, full-service grocery store. Representatives anticipate opening the store by the end of 2010.

“People are in need of food in the neighborhood,” Smith said. “It’s crucial.”

Calling the recently-begun Sunday buyers club “phase one,” Smith said that as soon as January, the co-op hopes to participate in an outdoor market with local vendors and farmers and other tenants of the forthcoming healing center.

The idea behind a food cooperative is that members, rather than a company, have ownership of the for-profit venture.

“We’re basically selling the ownership of a grocery store for $100,” Smith said, referring to the membership fee. “From the point of view of the consumer, there’s very little difference” between a food cooperative and a conventional grocery store.

Smith said there are currently 180 food cooperatives in operation across the United States, but none in Louisiana.

In order to make the New Orleans project viable, the cooperative needs to continue to fill its membership ranks. Smith said the New Orleans Food Cooperative has roughly 550 members but requires 1,000 under the formula included in its business plan.

“We cannot make this work without a certain critical mass of membership,” he said. “(Membership fees represent) the capital equity that we have in hand that helps us with our business loans.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

From Dawn Mountain - Parinirvana of Venerable Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche

December 8, 2008




Dear Friends-

With deep sadness at our common loss, yet grateful for all we have received, we write to let you know that Khetsun Rinpoche's passage is complete. Paranirvana of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche from Dudjom Institute.
Harvey and I were able to see Rinpoche briefly on Full Moon Day, December 3, when he already looked ready to vanish into light. There was also a palpable outpouring of blessings pouring through his window after he entered his final meditation.
We will continue to meet for the Amitabha prayers dedicated to Khetsun Rinpoche at 6:30 each evening for the rest of the week at Dawn Mountain,
and also for weekly prayers this Monday and each Monday through the 49 days period. We will also, at Tulku Jigme's recommendation, be including
the Samanatabhadra Mon Lam "The King of Prayers". Any prayers at all you choose to do are most welcome at this time.

A revised Amitabha prayer has been posted on the Dawn Mountain website.
With grateful hearts,

Anne & Harvey

DAWN MOUNTAIN
1925 B Richmond Ave.
Houston, TX 77098
www.dawnmountain.org

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lho Ontul Rinpoche to teach at LHA New Orleans Dec. 11-13


Lotus Lake Drikung Center
presents
LHO ONTUL RINPOCHE


Vajravidarana Purification Ceremony

Friday Dec. 11th, 7-10pm, LHA 621 N. Rendon
Suggested donation $25.00

This is a profound purification ceremony and blessing, which purifies all kinds of negativity and contamination that bring about sickness of body, mind and spirit. This is open to Buddhist and non-Buddhists.


Yangzab Amulet of the Sun and Moon Long Life
Breathing Yoga Teachings/Practice


Saturday Dec. 12th, 11am-1pm, and 2-4pm, LHA, 621 N. Rendon
Suggested donation $35.00

This is a rare opportunity to receive the secret Long Life Yoga practice of Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava. This is a profound yet not difficult Long Life Yogic practice that works with the breath and visualization. Rinpoche will give the pith instructions for this practice followed by practice sessions as well as an opportunity for questions.


Public Healing Chod


Sunday Dec. 13th, 11-2am-pm, LHA, 621 N. Rendon
Suggested donation $25.00

Rinpoche will offer a Healing Chod practice to heal mental and
physical sicknesses, and to remove karmic obstacles to spiritual growth.
This ceremony is open to both Buddhist and non-Buddhists.





Saturday, November 28, 2009

Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche



I hope that all of you have found yourselves warm and peaceful lately. I wanted to post this picture of Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche for you. He has lived a long life and has lately been very ill. He is likely to make his final transition soon. According to the email Anne Klein sent out, "He is comfortable, clear, and totally at ease. We are sad. We are also joyful at his amazing blessings."

Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche was the first Buddhist teacher I met or received teachings from in this life, in 2001. He has remained an deep inspiration for me since. I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit him a few times over the last couple of years. I snapped the attached photo in early September, 2007.

You can read a little more about him below, copied from www.dawnmountain.org/content/teachers.html

Please keep him and his community in your prayers and meditations.

-Love and light-


_____________________________

Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche is among the most senior Lamas and Dzogchen masters in the Ancient (Nyingma) Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and perhaps the most eminent Nyingma historian alive today.

He was born in 1920 in central Tibet and came to India in 1959. Soon thereafter he was asked by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to represent Dudjom Rinpoche, head of the Nyingma school, in Japan. Khetsun Rinpoche spent ten years in this capacity from 1960-1970, teaching in Tokyo and Kyoto Universities and becoming fluent in Japanese.

In 1971 he returned to India and founded a school to educate Tibetan monks in his tradition. Over the last twenty five years he has accepted numerous invitations to teach in Japanese and U.S. universities and to teach students in retreats in Dordogne, France.

In Tibet, Khetsun Rinpoche received teachings on the Very Essence of the Great Expanse tradition from the famous Lady Master Jetsun Shugseb Rinpoche (d.1953) of Shugseb Nunnery, Tibet's main institution for women practitioners of Dzogchen. Other teachers include Dudjom Rinpoche, Kangyur Rinpoche, and Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche.

Khetsun Rinpoche's writings feature a 13 volume history of all the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. He is also the author of Tantric Practice in Nyingma, used by thousands of Western students as a guide to the foundational practices.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Zilkar Rinpoche to teach at LHA on Sundays!

I am happy to announce that Zilkar Rinpoche has returned to New Orleans!

He will be giving teachings on Sunday nights 6:30 - 8pm at LHA -- starting this Sunday July 12th. The topic will be on Shantideva's main text, "Guide to the Boddhisattva Way of Life".

621 N. Rendon St.
NOLA 70119

Please call if you have any questions-- 319-5683 or 723-1317.

Jennifer

Zilkar Rinpoche to teach at LHA on Sundays!

I am happy to announce that Zilkar Rinpoche has returned to New Orleans!

He will be giving teachings on Sunday nights 6:30 - 8pm at LHA -- starting this Sunday July 12th. The topic will be on Shantideva's main text, "Guide to the Boddhisattva Way of Life".

621 N. Rendon St.
NOLA 70119

Please call if you have any questions-- 319-5683 or 723-1317.

Jennifer

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lama Lakshey Zangpo to teach at LHA Center (New Orleans) Sunday, June 21


On Sunday June 21st at 7pm, Lama Lakshey Zangpo will be giving a talk at the LHA Communtity Center, 623 N. Rendon Street, New Orleans, LA 70119. Lama Lakshey, a longtime friend of LHA's, as well as both Chamtrul and Khentrul Rinpoche's, is visiting us from Berkeley California. This talk is being sponsored by LHA and Katog Choling Dharma Center. Lama Lakshey's biography is included below.

Lama Lakshey will also be attending our regular Bodhicitta practice on 10am Sunday at the LHA Community Center. Please come for both the teaching and the practice, and meet Lama Lakshey!

For more information please call or email Shelley at 504.319.3895, shelleyom@rediffmail.com

Hope to see you there!


Lama Lakshey Zangpo:


Lakshey Zangpo was born in Eastern Tibet in the region called Golok, which is the home of Madro Tashi Choling Monastery. At the age of 11 he began a formal practice of the Dharma. Lama Lakshey studied and practiced under his main root Guru His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok, receiving Sutra and Tantra teachings for 10 years, from His Holiness Katog Moktsa Rinpoche he received the Katog lineage empowerments and transmissions, and from HH Bontrul Rinpoche various transmissions. He has been formally made a lama at Mardo Tashi Choling Monastery. At the age of 26 he went on pilgrimage for many months to many holy places in Tibet, India, Nepal, Thailand, and China. During this time he also received teachings from many great scholars and practitioners of the Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu, Nyingma and Jonang traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Lama Lakshey Zangpo currently lives in North America and continues to propagate the Buddha Dharma for the benefit of all beings and study the English language.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Orleans Healing Center Open House Preview

This is a friendly reminder that the Healing Center Open House Preview is tomorrow, Saturday, June 13th, 2009 - 10:00am to 1pm, at the New Orleans Healing Center, 2372
St. Claude Avenue. Senator Mary Landrieu, as well as other state and
local leaders, will be making remarks. There will be a free catered
brunch
, live music, spoken word, children’s activities, a crafts
bazaar, and other information and activities demonstrating the
services that will be offered at the Healing Center.

The New Orleans Healing Center is an ambitious project aimed at
promoting healing in New Orleans in a holistic, integrated and
sustainable way. It is located on the corner of St. Claude and St.
Roch avenues, where the St. Roch, St. Claude, Marigny and Bywater
neighborhoods come together. The Healing Center will include a yoga
studio, a community theatre, an organic restaurant, NOLA Solar, a
street university, spritual space, a women's center, a crafts bazaar,
art galleries, an organic garden, children's activities, parenting
support, the New Orleans Food Co-op grocery store, and more.