This article appeared in the April 25, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/25 edition

Two shopkeepers, two communities made stronger

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Residents of the Chicago suburb of Harvey, Illinois, have long had challenges getting services that can help them.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

The strength of a well-functioning community can seem just … organic.

But before you arrive at a set of people who have confident agency, you need someone with a vision for creating it.

You need a local hero – or an aspiring one.

Detroit entrepreneur Raphael Wright understood what a pride-bringing community anchor a good neighborhood grocery could be. It also was not lost on him that his city – with a population that is 80% African American – had no black-owned grocery stores.

So since 2017 he’s been crowdfunding, lining up managers, and laying plans for a major store in Detroit. Meantime, he’s building a small bodega. Mr. Wright’s aim is high.

“It goes back to how you control your community,” he tells Civil Eats. “Whoever feeds you really controls you. And if we’re not in control of that – it’s bigger than just the economic consequence. We lose a piece of our culture.”

In Winchester, Virginia, Erik Jones already had a store. His Four Color Fantasies sells comic books. Mr. Jones’ view of community extends to those in his state who are illiterate, including recent immigrants. He understood how the visual storytelling that fills his shelves could be an especially accessible medium. So he approached his favorite artists at comic conventions for help in creating comics that could teach.

“The worst they could say is no,” he tells Nation Swell. “Everyone I asked said yes.” The results are now being auctioned, with bids rising and winners to be announced May 4. Benefits will go to a local literacy group. Like Mr. Wright, Mr. Jones is feeding a need – and strengthening a community.

Now to our five stories for your Thursday, looking at a peacemaking twist on the Korean Peninsula, ingenuity in opposition tactics in Latin America, and the playoff perseverance of a pro athlete. 

Share this article


This article appeared in the April 25, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/25 edition