Friday, December 30, 2005

Detroit's Best Bakery

Each of the 8 times I've gone to Detroit (because of our work with Grace Lee Boggs and Detroit Summer on some murals and with Great Leap), I always go to Avalon. It is truly the best place to get bread, coffee and sandwiches. Before I leave for the airport, I stop by to get some delicious organic olive bread to take home. Here's an article by Jackie sharing she and Ann's vision for creating a business that is good to people, the environment, and the community. In a city that can often be kind of depressing (60,000 abandoned lots, severe poverty, etc), Avalon is an oasis in the desert. Jenni :)

Tony and our friend Shea at Avalon in Detroit in 2003

By Jackie Victor, guest columnist
Michigan Citizen, Jan. 1-7, 2006

The class in Entrepreneurship beginning on January 21 at Wayne County Community College may be the education that Detroiters have been waiting for.

In 1997, my partner, Ann Perrault, and I embarked upon a visionary adventure: Avalon International Breads, a high-quality bakery in the Cass Corridor using 100% organic flour and following a business model of sustainability and community. While we had many advantages, neither of us had any formal business training or bakery experience. What we had was a rich history of community in Detroit and a vision of doing something bigger than ourselves, of fulfilling James Boggs’ edict to “start businesses that sustain ourselves, shoe repair shops, bakeries, etc.” We took his words literally and Avalon was born.

We started the bakery with three bottom lines: right relationship with the Earth, right relationship with Employees, and right relationship with the Community. (We didn’t discover the fourth bottom line, right relationship with our Checkbook, until six years into the venture). These four principles or aspirations keep us on track as much as possible. They also keep us humble.

What we have received back from the community in loyalty, support and gratitude is immeasurable. Although a tough, taxing and physically demanding business that has aged us considerably, the bakery has been a spiritual boon in our lives while providing a livelihood for ourselves and over 25 other Detroiters.

And since we opened, five small businesses have been started on our block by African American women with similar values!

We focused on quality: food, atmosphere and service. Detroiters are accustomed to being underserved and thus welcome thoughtful, high quality businesses. Their loyalty has been amazing. I can’t tell you how many people thanked us in our first years for opening a place for them to spend their money!

I truly believe that conscious entrepreneurship is the only way to create a real, living economy in our city. Although considerably smaller than 25 years ago, Detroit is still home to over 800,000 people who still need food, clothing, music, books, furniture, home supplies, etc.

The skills that entrepreneurship needs are not necessarily acquired through formal education, but are passed on through family businesses, apprenticeships and work experience. Many a well-trained business owner has failed because they have not followed business ethics or the law or professional advice. Since we have lost a generation of small business owners in Detroit, these mentorship opportunities are a critical part of any entrepreneurial education.

But there is another, more important element. Successful entrepreneurs must have not only the vision and the passion but the tenacity to continue to find new options and work harder and smarter when failure looms. And to continue to improve when success brings complacency. This is the hidden spark, the magic of entrepreneurship, that makes it not only a job but an exciting way of life.

Instead of looking to big business or retail strip malls to save Detroit, we need to envision and create a city alive with independent small businesses that reflect the world we desire, meet the needs of the lives we live, and can sustain us now and in the future. We may not get rich, but what better reward for our lives, than making a living creating a new city!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from

Happy Holidays from Tony, Jenni & Maiya at the Little Tokyo Mural Unveiling

Kuida Family portrait by Darrell Miho
June 2005

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dinner Time & Maiya's Blog Update

I took Lily to LAX at 5:30 am today, and then went to get some gift wrap and medicine at Savon before dawn. If you want to avoid lines and holiday hassles, do it early in the morning. Yes, we're still sick. Maiya had a slight cold last week, and it's hard to tell if she's sick again, cause I'm still coughing, wheezing and hacking from her first cold back in November. This week, she had a fever, so I had to take her out of childcare, but then a few hours after we got home, she was fine (although I nursed her 16 times that day). We went to a holiday party at Beth, Brian, Erin & Valerie's last night, and now Maiya's a little bit croupy again.

Erin and Maiya at last night's party

But enough about that. This entry is about dinner time, so here's a few cute pictures from dinner a few weeks ago. Maiya is enjoying chunks of avocado, tofu, steamed zucchinis, carrots, sweet potatoes, edamame and other finger foods. We're moving away from the organic baby food in jars lately because she loves picking up the food with her fingers and feeding herself.

Maiya and Daddy chowing down

I like my sippy cup, but Mama's milk is still my favorite!

Finally, *Maiya* spent the whole afternoon, updating her Blog from July! Check it out!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tricks are for kids

Tony taught Maiya "Gimme five." It's so cute how she slaps his hands, and gives him five. Maiya can also now wave goodbye. The other day, without being prompted to, she waved goodbye when I was dropping her off at childcare. That put a big smile on my face the entire morning.

Yesterday, I said, "Duckie, this is a duck. Give the duckie a hug," and then I put the soft fluffy duck in her arms. She grabbed the duck and gave it a hug. I couldn't believe it, so I said, "Give mama a hug." and she did. I tell you, the girl just keeps getting cuter and cuter.

On an exciting note, I just found out Maiya and I are going to be in the's 2006 Calendar. Boy, I never thought I'd be a pin-up girl, exposing my breasts for a calendar and everything! No, just kidding, it's a very tasteful photo of me nursing Maiya at The Grove when she was 2 1/2 months old. "Nothing" is showing, except for my commitment to giving my girl delicious and nutritious mama's milk, whenever and whereever she wants and needs it.

Ok, me and Maiya are both sick this week--that's been a bummer since I wasn't finished with last month's cold yet when this one kicked in. The funny thing is that Maiya loves the nasal aspirator. Most babies hate having their mocos sucked out of their noses, but when I do it, it makes her laugh every time. The girl is a nut, or maybe she just has a ticklish nose.

What else? Oh! Tooth #8 came in some time this week. Well, Maiya's been sleeping on my arms while I type this post, and my arm is getting tired. So, off to bed we go! Toodles!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Marie at breakfast in Idaho

Deepest condolences to Don, my step-father-in-law, whose mom Marie passed away on Saturday. Marie just turned 93 a few weeks ago. We are happy that Marie was able to meet Maiya, and that we spent mornings at breakfast with Marie in Idaho on our summer vacation. Hugs to Don, Fran and all of Marie's extensive extended family.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Maiya's November Blog

I stayed up till 4am the other night selecting photos, cropping them, uploading them and creating Maiya's November Fotos Firsts and Blog. My goal is to do July, August and October before the end of the year. No promises. Last night, we were at Uncle Bill's till 4:30 am doing 4 loads of laundry since our dryer is on the fritz. Gee, maybe if I got more sleep I could get rid of this cough.