Fwd: Gandhi Mahal Restaurant Launches Communities in Climate Action
From: Scott Jackson (sjackzen46gmail.com)
Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 14:11:12 -0700 (PDT)
Here's an invitation from Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. I won't be
able to attend the first week because of the Tar Sands Team meeting, but I
expect to be a frequent attendee thereafter on non-TST Thursdays.

Scott Jackson
sjackzen46 [at] gmail.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light <claire [at] mnipl.org>
Date: Thu, May 22, 2014 at 4:01 PM
Subject: Gandhi Mahal Restaurant Launches Communities in Climate Action
To: sjackzen46 [at] gmail.com

Greetings from MNIPL!

We know that coming together as communities of concerned, engaged citizens
is vital to sustaining our work, and ourselves. We write to you with an
exciting opportunity to do just that!

Thursday May 29th we are launching *Communities in Climate Action*, a
weekly event at Gandhi Mahal. The team at Gandhi Mahal is committed to
acting on Climate Change and is joining with MNIPL and our Carbon Tithe
Program. The Carbon Tithe presents an opportunity to come together as a
community of diverse faith traditions to voluntarily pay more for the
carbon that we use in our vehicles to support climate action. Gandhi Mahal
is leading the way, contributing 10% of their proceeds every Wednesday
night MNIPL and other partner organizations as their own Carbon Tithe. Each
week, we will come together as diverse communities to celebrate and support
the work that we are doing together to build a just and sustainable future
for all.

We hope you will join us on Thursday May 29th between 6 to 9 PM as we
launch this exciting partnership to support the Climate Movement!  We’ll
gather in the community room for a $15 buffet, and enjoy the music of
singer songwriter Scott Mars.  At 7:00 we will have a short program, but
mostly we’ll be encouraging people to enjoy the conversation and the
RSVP and visit our FB
Bring your friends.

See you on the 29th!


*A Gathering Place of Peace*

In today’s world there are so many questions around ethical eating.
Vegetarian? Vegan? Local? Non-GMO? Organic? Sustainable? They are all
worthy of discussion and study. But one connection that isn’t questioned as
often is community. It’s inherent, though sometimes hidden, in those
questions. How does my food lift up or degrade the global and local
community? Sitting in the corner booth at Gandhi Mahal, I sip on Chai,
breathing in true sense of community that lives here.

It’s no coincidence. It’s not just the decoration, music, or delicious
food. That warm feeling of community is the result of years of friendship,
discernment, and a clear call to work for justice. Ruhel Islam, the Owner
and Executive Chef of Gandhi Mahal, reaches over to refill my cup of Chai,
and I am filled with happiness.

Gandhi Mahal started as the Little Taj Mahal in 2005, a small restaurant in
Dinkytown with only six tables. Soon there was a clear need to expand. When
they moved to Longfellow they quickly learned that they had planted
themselves in a neighborhood engaged in sustainability, and called to
respond. Riz Prakasim, the manager of Gandhi Mahal family, said, “we wanted
to be a life-giving component of the community not a parasite, we wanted to
give back and be in relation with the community.”

So they began. Called by their faith and their community to work on
sustainability and environmental justice they put down roots at Minnehaha
community garden, starting with one small plot. The next year they planted
a community garden in Ruhel’s backyard, and began to use recyclable, use
compostable containers, and turn cooking oil into biodiesel. Now they are
making history by building an aquaponic system in the restaurant, a 500
gallon fish tank which will house and feed tilapia, in a completely closed
loop. Plants will clean out fish waste which will be used as a fertilizer,
and the fish will be fed from kitchen scraps. The team at Gandhi Mahal
continues to lead by example and hopes the aquaponic system will be an
education tool to promote urban farming.

At every turn, Riz and Ruhel ask themselves, “will this be life giving,
will this support sustainability and our community? By asking those
questions, and following them with meaningful action, they are creating a
place that truly honors the translation of their name Gandhi Mahal, a
gathering place of peace.  As Riz told me, “we bring a wide variety of
folks together who differ in ethnicity, religious, and political values,
but folks can come together here over a good meal and have dialogue over
the human table.” That diversity of dialogue lives at Gandhi Mahal, as
Ruhel is a Muslim, and Riz a Christian. They ask questions, sometimes, but
ultimately, “we respect whatever separates us and recognize that there is a
greater bond of love and humanity that unites us.”

What unites them, and many people who work and spend time at Gandhi Mahal
is a desire to build authentic community and work for justice. “It’s a part
of my DNA,” says Riz, whose grandfather was a leader in the labor movement
in South Africa and was jailed with Mahatma Gandhi, and whose father and
brother fought against Apartheid. Ruhel is originally from Bangladesh and
witnessed first-hand the poverty around him, the effects of climate change
as it relates to crops, people unable to farm their land and feed their
families and community. In their love of Indian food is also a recognition
of a call to justice and community. As Riz said “this is just part of who
we are, we’re doing what our ancestors would have done and following in
their footsteps.”

Riz, Ruhel, and everyone at Gandhi have big plans for how Gandhi Mahal can
continue to build a just community. They are committed to continue to move
to greater levels of sustainability, putting up solar panels, raising bees
on the roof, opening up another location, and ultimately becoming
self-sufficient with their own farm, which will raise local halal meat.

As they continue to dream big, Gandhi Mahal is also partnering with MNIPL
and have committed to host Faith In Action Nights, where they will give 10%
of their proceeds to MNIPL as a Carbon Offering.  The Carbon Offering
Nights will not only be a way for us to acknowledge the carbon we use and
put our money towards initiatives addressing climate change, it will be an
important time to join together in community, to acknowledge the threat of
climate disruption and celebrate what we can do when we work together.

We hope you’ll join us for a night of hope, community, and inspired action.
 We can’t think of a place better than Gandhi Mahal to do it.

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