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249 Peters Street SW
Atlanta, GA 30313
404-883-3608
249 Peters Street SW
Atlanta, GA 30313
404-883-3608
The Food Landscape

The Food Landscape

‘When children learn to count they naturally add and multiply. Subtraction and division are harder to teach them, perhaps because reducing the world is an adult skill.’ Jeanette Winterson We cannot talk about food without first talking about division. Atlanta is the most segregated city I have ever lived in. It is divided by race and […]

6 Reasons Why Selling Organic in a Food Desert is Like Being in a Seth MacFarlane Film

6 Reasons Why Selling Organic in a Food Desert is Like Being in a Seth MacFarlane Film

The Boxcar Grocer has been operating now in Atlanta for a little over two years. The amount of experiential information and behavioral data we have assembled from standing in the store every day and ringing people up is amazing. We listen to people. We watch what is going on around us in the neighborhood. We […]

Advisory Alert

Advisory Alert

With little remorse I admit, I am not a fan of winter. Humidity and heat are my friends. When the mercury reaches the triple digits I hit my stride. I respond to requests for air conditioning in my car with raised eyebrows. And in my house? A fan will suffice. Keep air circulating, just don’t […]

Mandela: A Force for Change

Mandela: A Force for Change

Change is a concept that both fascinates us and terrifies us. We resist it within our own lives with a force and tenacity that keeps us powerless and diminished. And yet, the leaders we most revere tap the very Spirit inside each of us by allowing us to be witness to their own personal change. […]

Reflections

Reflections

Every so often there comes a time to reflect: to re-establish purpose, to correct course, so to speak. As we approach our second year benchmark we are proud of how organically we have grown. We started this (ad)venture with an idea, a direction we knew to head towards. With virtually no experience in food retail, […]

Beyond Reason

Beyond Reason

When was the last time anger or fear provided anything uplifting or useful for a community? Some say the walls of institutionalized racism and injustice are too high to relieve ourselves of the anger and fear within which we have been mired for centuries. The anger and fear that pits Black people against other Black […]

Welcome to the Kollective!

Welcome to the Kollective!

The Boxcar Grocer will be undergoing some serious changes over the next week and a half. We will be closed throughout the entire July 4th weekend to reconfigure our space and update our point of sale system. It is a huge undertaking, akin to starting the business over again (not quite as arduous but it […]

Only Good Lay Before You

Only Good Lay Before You

The detox taught me to be much more mindful about my body as a system. And although I’ve had the training before, there is something about detoxification that can reset your entire life. In the end I dropped about about 5 pounds, toned my muscles, and my skin looked radiant. My mind felt clear, I was able to do my job better and communicate more effectively with the people around me.

Who Needs a Loser to Win?

Who Needs a Loser to Win?

When we were little our parents encouraged us to read by giving us money for each book we completed. Fiction earned us $1.00 per book. Math workbooks garnered $0.05 per page. As siblings, we became competitive during the summer months, gorging on books in anticipation of a payoff. We did not receive allowances for doing […]

Boxcar Goes Tech

Boxcar Goes Tech

After five fast-paced days in Austin, Texas spending time with some of the most innovative people in business, I’ve returned to Atlanta totally inspired and with a clearer vision of the potential reach of Boxcar. I’m not kidding when I say it’s like my mind just exploded from the sheer electricity of being at South […]

An Honest Look at Health

An Honest Look at Health

Our parents were very open with us. Although we were taught respect and when to stay out of grown folks’ business, at our own dinner table nothing was off limits. From an early age, we talked about everything in a very matter-of-fact, nonjudgmental way: from anonymous patients who were ill or dying in the hospital […]

Grow Our Children, Donate Time

Grow Our Children, Donate Time

As a commercial landowner we are ambivalent about the effectiveness of the property taxes we pay each year to Fulton County and City of Atlanta. What do the schools around our land have to show for the $22,000 check we write each Fall? What do our sidewalks and streets have to show? What is the […]

Gettin Dignified!

Gettin Dignified!

Within this culture, I hear people talking about dying with dignity. I seldom hear people passionately talk about living with dignity. Boxcar grew out of the realization that living with dignity is about more than an attitude, it is a way of being in the world and it is very important. Living with dignity is […]

Health Begins at Home

Health Begins at Home

One of the greatest gifts our mom and dad gave us was a useful model for health. It wasn’t through pointing a finger in our face and telling us what to do. It wasn’t by shaming us into putting down our Atari and forcing us to leave the house. It was a pretty simple method: […]

Calm in the Community

Calm in the Community

We are ushering in a new era. One that is more about balance and harmony. We are moving beyond the old way of doing things. We are each forced to either move our lives and our communities forward in ways that are very different from how we have operated in the past, or we remain […]

Our Future in Food

Our Future in Food

In the coming weeks you will notice a lot of changes around here. We have been taking stock, making sense of all the we have learned over the last year, and making the appropriate modifications to be able to steer Boxcar in the direction it needs to be a more useful part of the community […]

Equilibration

Equilibration

What can we say? It’s been almost a year since we had our soft opening and Boxcar is still chugging along. It’s an amazing place to be. One year old. If Boxcar were a child we would still be in the sensori-motor stage according to Piaget. We have learned this year. Boy, have we learned. […]

Why Mobile is Not Enough

Why Mobile is Not Enough

A couple weeks ago I dropped my cell phone. This is a common occurrence that happens daily rendering what was once a very useful, attractive device into a treacherous collection of glass particles and intermittent service. Not the end of the world, I know, but annoying enough to make a dent in my week. Fixing […]

An Open Letter to All Who Want to Talk About Food Access

An Open Letter to All Who Want to Talk About Food Access

Misunderstandings.  They are very often part of how we communicate as human beings.  They are definitely part of our verbal and non-verbal fabric.  Some of us live by them, while others of us work diligently to not ever be misunderstood only to have it happen time and time again.  Entire episodes of Three’s Company were […]

We Are All in This Boat

We Are All in This Boat

I rowed novice crew my first year in college. Before I arrived at the intro session, I had never even seen a rowing shell up close. Prior to Columbia, my limited knowledge of the sport came from watching Rob Lowe in Oxford Blues as a kid. Other than that, nothin. Just a few average years […]

Our Year

Our Year

A year ago our store did not exist. One year ago we were just two siblings with an idea, lots of creativity, a passion to see change in our community, and access to a loan. During challenging days when I feel a bit of a failure for not being able to return every phone call […]

Hot Mess to Hot-ness!

Hot Mess to Hot-ness!

It is not often that a day goes by when someone asks us what the space here at 249 Peters Street looked like before we moved in. The truth is the space had been left dormant for a few years. Although it had been rented during all that time, nothing was done to improve the […]

A Father’s Day Tribute to Al Cross

A Father’s Day Tribute to Al Cross

The most exquisite gifts our dad ever gave us were access to quality educations and safe places to live. These gifts live on beyond his short life and have extended the possibilities of ours. They are the foundations upon which Alphonzo and I both stand and they are the wings with which we continue to […]

Healthy Food Project

Healthy Food Project

Lots of minds are busy at work trying to find solutions to food access across the US. It’s always interesting to see what students are doing. Check out this collaboration between  RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and Brown students that resulted in products and events to help teenagers gather the tools necessary to change […]

Bikes and the City

Bikes and the City

I just got back from a very fun weekend in New York City. My 15-year college reunion took place over the course of three days at Barnard College. I could not help but go. I saw friends that I had lost touch with and had a wonderful time catching up and seeing how much the […]

Might be a Circus But…

Might be a Circus But…

What we are doing is not magic. It might seem like it sometimes, but it is only in relation to the lack of faith and commitment that many people have in everyday life.  It has been 6 months since we opened the doors here at Boxcar. A lot has happened over the last half year. […]

New Summer Hours: Su (closed), M (12p-6p), T-Fri (9a-8p)

New Summer Hours: Su (closed), M (12p-6p), T-Fri (9a-8p)

This is Rufus. He is our dog. Well, technically, he is Alphonzo’s dog. But now that we’re in business together there are a number of things that were once mine or his that have become ours because of shared responsibility: our dog, our stress, our debt, our store. I’m bringing up Rufus because he is […]

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

Ten years ago if you had told me that I would be minding my own corner store, I would have laughed. If anything, perhaps I could have seen myself with a bookstore, as much as I have always loved to read. My life was always a very quiet life. Almost hermit-like really. It always has […]

The Soulful Self

The Soulful Self

So it turns out that starting your own business sucks up a lot of your social life, family life, and any other type of life you might have had before the bright idea that you could not stop thinking about popped into your head. It has been a difficult winter. Full of starts and stops […]

Barriers to Entry

Barriers to Entry

Getting food into neighborhoods is a tricky affair. Multiple reasons exist that prevent small grocers from opening up and from succeeding once they are open. Grocery stores typically have low margins. Combine this with the increased cost involved in sourcing for one store, lack of financial incentives that are typically provided to big box stores […]

…About Last Week

…About Last Week

Yes, we were burgled. Yes, it was annoying and it meant we had to shut our doors for two days until we could recover. But that’s pretty much where any emotion around that incident ends for us. Life goes on. We learned a lesson. We made changes and adjusted accordingly. Beefed up internal and external […]

Eat, Laugh, Connect

Eat, Laugh, Connect

We get a lot of questions. Every day. Lots of questions. People want to know what is going on in general with the store. Others want to know how we came up with the idea to create the store. Some people want to know how they can create a store like ours. We are not always […]

Limitations

Limitations

When Alphonzo was 9 years old, he fractured both of his knees playing soccer. It was an abrupt end to any fantasies he had about becoming the next Pelé. The months he spent wobbling around the house, drawing in his notebooks, trying to find inventive ways to slide up and down the stairs, and fashioning scratching […]

Testament

Testament

Last night was a testament to the power of community. It was also an ode to what can happen when one lets go of anger and embraces the possibilities that abound in disruptive moments in life. Three years ago our family lost 165 acres of heir property that had been in our family for over […]

At This Corner

At This Corner

  Our grand opening is upon us. The official, official beginning to the physical part of our business. Although we thought this party would have happened at the end of last year it somehow seems more fitting for us to kick off 2012 with our celebration. Say what you will about resolutions, beginnings make us […]

This Is Our Land

This Is Our Land

People ask my brother and me many questions when they enter Boxcar. Sometimes it is just about the food we sell. Other times, folks want to know when, oh when, will we start serving prepared food. Some people just want to know if we are twins or not. Overall though, the one question that we […]

The Urban Environment

The Urban Environment

  It’s good to see students engaging with the urban landscape in ways that go beyond just pounding the pavement down on Canal Street or wherever undergrads hang out these days. I just read about this team of students at my alma mater researching ways to improve New York City rivers by incorporating study of […]

The Six Week Mark

The Six Week Mark

  The last six and a half weeks have flown by so fast I feel as though I’m moving even when I’m standing still. We opened the doors quietly (or so we thought) at the end of October and here it is, nearly Christmas already. Every day is like a race to get things done. […]

Our Happy Little Circus

Our Happy Little Circus

Cirque du Soleil is coming to town. Every time I pass the tents down on Spring Street I get a little excited before I remember that I probably won’t even have time to see the show. I still remember the first one I saw when I was still in college in New York in 1994. […]

All the Foodies are Rich, All of the Farmers are White, But Some of Us Are Still Cookin’

All the Foodies are Rich, All of the Farmers are White, But Some of Us Are Still Cookin’

While I was in Oakland at the food security conference, one of the things that people kept asking me about our store was ‘how do you get people to come shop with you.’ Aside from the obvious answer about creating an inviting space – which owes more to my background studying architecture and my brother’s […]

A Limited Engagement

A Limited Engagement

  Since I’ve been at the Community Food Security Coalition Conference, I’ve met lots of wonderful people all working towards creating a more reliable, democratic network of healthy food. The rooms are full for sure. It’s wonderful. People have come from near and far to share their successes, their challenges, their hopes and their fears. […]

POOF! A Grocery Store

POOF! A Grocery Store

This past Saturday we attempted to open our doors once again. With the help of our wonderful IT consultant Meredith Anton over at M-Squared, we were able to actually ring up people in less than 5 minutes. Amazing, right?! For those of you there on the very, very first day you will be amazed. We’ve […]

Boxcar Chugs into the Station

Boxcar Chugs into the Station

What a weekend! I don’t even know where to begin to explain what happened. It was a combination of excitement, anxiety, chaos and confusion. First of all, we did not expect so many people to file through the doors on Saturday. That was the point of starting with a soft opening.

Life Lessons from the Garden

Life Lessons from the Garden

Who would have thought that New York City would be such a hotbed of gardening and farming activity? Enough to even have a conference on it. This weekend we were fortunate to be able to attend the Black Farmers’ Conference in New York City. Rashid Nuri, who we’ll be working with to provide some of […]

A Constant State of Flux

A Constant State of Flux

I feel like we’re in a constant state of excitement these days. As we wrap up construction and move on to actually filling the store with products, it reminds me that anything worth accomplishing is a process, not an event. People keep asking us when the grand opening is. The most I can do is […]

Open Letter to Castleberry Hill Businesses and Residents

Open Letter to Castleberry Hill Businesses and Residents

There is a disruption occurring across American cities today. People are questioning their way of life. A way of life that we’d been taught to believe would always be the same. Would always support us. Would always protect us. Would always provide for us. In the last 10 years we’ve seen the vulnerability of our […]

Technology + Food

Technology + Food

One of the difficult parts of making this store work has been locating the farmers and other local people who will be supplying our store. Sure, we will have some round the way things that everyone is used to, but a large part of why we’re doing what we’re doing is to not only give […]

Choices

Choices

Food is such an essential part of our lives. It enriches community. It forces us to pause and take a moment to recharge our bodies, our lives. And it creates an opportunity to make mindful choices one step at a time. It is very much like the vision we have for The Boxcar Grocer as […]

Good Magazine Design Challenge Winner!

Good Magazine Design Challenge Winner!

It’s GOOD to be validated. We are nine weeks into construction on our neighborhood farm to market grocery store in Atlanta. Our imaginations are still going wild at the possibilities that we are being presented with as we move towards our opening date of early October.

More Food, Less Space

More Food, Less Space

Each week that passes here in Atlanta, we watch as the store takes shape and our network expands. I’m constantly surprised by how strong the local food movement is here. How so many people are dedicated to creating innovative solutions to build a healthy, vibrant, local food movement and implementing strategies for rebuilding a healthier […]

Why Castleberry?

Why Castleberry?

Now that we are firmly ensconced in Atlanta, jostling for space between cars on our bikes, sampling restaurants to soothe our California palettes, and working to make The Boxcar Grocer a reality, it is time to reference the community into which we decided to build our business. Because everyone seems to want to know why […]

All You Really Need

All You Really Need

We had a wonderful 4th of July yesterday in Atlanta. It was pretty low-key, which seems to be the word of the season since we just moved here and our radius is limited by our ability to ride our bicycles there. Actually, you’d be surprised how many places one can reach on a bicycle when […]

Nothing Less than Healthy

Nothing Less than Healthy

  We’re full steam ahead with construction. The discovery process seems to be behind us – no skeletons or voodoo paintings popped out of the ground. So far, so good. Each day, however, is a new reveal as we peel back the inner workings of a 20th century building and carefully put it back together, […]

Walls and Other Obstacles

Walls and Other Obstacles

It may look like just a wall. To be blunt, it may look like just an old, boring, grey wall that lacks any excitement or sense of purpose outside of the ordinary. Granted, it is the exterior wall of The Boxcar Grocer in Castleberry Hill but considering our organic grocery store is not up and […]

Thoughtful Quote for Today

Thoughtful Quote for Today

“Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.” – Paul Hawken

Green Our Communities

Green Our Communities

Favianna Rodriguez is a favorite of mine. I love showing up at events and seeing her loving spirit and her beautiful art. She has been a community crusader in so many ways. Her various talents have her deeply entrenched in the social issues that are affecting millions of Americans. With work that speaks to diverse […]

Foodstalk

Foodstalk

In my neverending quest to look for interesting people doing interesting things in the food movement, I came across Foodstalk. From a graphic perspective they rock. Who knew eating local could bring the inspiration for such cool graphics?

Mandela Foods Cooperative

Last week I attended a Civil Eats Kitchen Table Talk that included a panel of young food activists who have been working to highlight the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to their passion and creativity, their commitment to broadening access to real food has had profound effects within the communities in which they […]

What Is They Feedin Our Kids?

Idris Goodwin, poses the question, what is they feedin’ our kids? So, good.

Soul Food Junkies – The Movie

A fresh perspective of the health issues involved in food choices that we’ve been making for generations. Filmmaker Byron Hurt explores issues of food, health and history with his new documentary. Check it! Soulfood Junkies Teaser from Byron Hurt on Vimeo.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (trailer)

Okay, so I haven’t seen this film in its entirety but it is such a catchy title that just begs one to take a closer look at what happens when one man tries to change himself. The connections he makes along the way from getting more in tune with his own body can’t help but […]

4 Acres and Some Mulch

Actually, it’s compost and mulch and lots of community love. I got a chance to head over to Wheat Street Gardens to meet Rashid Numi and Eugene Cook of Truly Living Well to take a look at what they have going on. My, my, my is it a sweet sight to behold! Four acres of […]

Raised on Twinkies and Poor Boys…And Yet

A very interesting talk about one woman’s journey towards understanding why we should have a healthy skepticism of what’s in our food.

You Are the Generation We Have Been Waiting For

Van Jones is one of my personal heroes. Not only is he exceptionally brilliant at drawing the lines that connect us all but he is also such an engaging and dynamic speaker who has energized people across this nation to do great things. Check out his most recent speech at the Power Shift conference:

Homegirls and Hillbillies

I am convinced that if I had met Majora Carter or even just heard of her while I was an undergraduate architecture student in New York City, I would have followed that career path to its logical outcome. However, as I’ve learned time and again, life is not logical or linear or easy to predict. […]

Who Grows Your Food?

It is a very important question, especially as Americans. The conditions under which our food is grown, harvested, packaged, and in many cases unfortunately, processed, affects our health and our communities. To stop for one moment and be mindful about how the food can either nourish you or slowly condemn you to a life of […]