Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hey OR Dems--How About This Restaurant, Next Time?

Yesterday I brought up the point that it's a bad idea to strategize on bringing more young women to the Democratic Party, by holding the meeting at a place where the owner acts in ways hostile to the livelihood of many of those young women. Never to be accused of taking potshots without a suitable alternative at hand, here's a recommendation for the next outreach session for DPO: The Tin Shed Garden Cafe' in the bustling NE Alberta district.

There are plenty of gustatory reasons to go. The food is excellent, the portions value-laden, the vegetarian options plentiful. The new patio is a great place to be on warm summer evenings, and if you bring a dog they'll not only let him or her sit with you, they're likely to get better treatment!

But more importantly, rather than fighting against the best interests of her community, co-owner Janette Kaden spreads her new wealth liberally {pdf, pg 7}, close to home and not-so-close. From financing her housemate's small business (Hair of the Dog washing and grooming, also in Alberta) to participating in the OR Humane Society's "Tail Wag" benefit, to supporting the Community Cycling Center, to supporting local artists and culture (scroll near the bottom), to holding a highly successful benefit for victims of Katrina.

Kaden's work obviously isn't run of the mill; the Shed was recently named one of six winners of the 2006 Governor’s Community Service Award for Restaurants, and one of just two (along with the popular Mo's in Newport) to represent Oregon in the National Restaurant Neighbor awards program, which encourages philanthropy among restauranteurs.

Ironically, the program is sponsored by SYSCO (the food distribution conglomerate) and the National Restaurant Organization, of which the Oregon Restaurant Association is an affiliate. So they're not all bad. Five hundred bucks (the reward for Mo's and Tin Shed) is awfully paltry, especially when you compare it to the $200,000 plus they fed to various "causes" {pdf} in the 2006 primaries. And some of that outgoing money was the result of incoming money from SYSCO--at least ten thousand of it, in fact.

Restauranteurs who look out for their community, and recognize their blessings to be supported by ordinary residents day in and day out, are the kind of people who should be hosting Democratic Party events--not those who do the lobby and conglomerate's bidding, trying to squeeze their own employees out of a dollar they've already agreed to pay in the past. Make better choices next time, DPO!