Category Archives: Community

International Women’s Day

An equal world is an enabled world
By Eva Cruz Peña

March 8 is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year’s campaign is #eachforequal. We asked four Rochester women of diverse nationalities to reflect on the phrase, “An equal world is an enabled world,” and to share their responses in their native languages.

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual Continue reading


A Regional Round-Up of Women Authors
By Gina Dewink

Dream Eater
Koi Pierce dreams other peoples’ dreams. Any skin-to-skin contact transfers flashes of that person’s most intense dreams. It’s enough to make anyone a hermit. Her father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, a dream fragment from the brush of a professor’s hand and a mysterious stranger who speaks a rare but familiar Japanese dialect will force Koi to learn to trust the help of others, as well as face the truth about herself. Continue reading

Off to the Unknown

An Immigration Story
By Yusra Hassan

Sudan was all my parents knew. They grew up and went to school there, and their families lived there. After they got married, they knew they would start a family. Sudan lacked good health care, and education was expensive. Life wasn’t the safest for children. Continue reading

Diversity vs. Inclusion

Why it’s important to understand the difference
By Eva Cruz Peña

According to social justice facilitator Meg Bolger, diversity is the presence of differences in a given setting, and diversity exists in relationship to others. These differences often fall into social categories such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, nationality and citizenship, veteran and parental status, body size, ability, age and experience. Diversity is experienced via the five senses and pertains to the quantity of differences. Continue reading

Rethinking Gender

Thinking outside of the binary for our definition of women
By TL Jordan, MSc (They/Them)

Working as a barista means that I am constantly interacting with people, whether that is taking coffee orders, recommending my favorite spots around town or listening to customers talk about their days.  That also means that I spend a lot of time correcting my pronouns (I use “they/them” and am often assumed to use “she/her”) and explaining that I do not go by “Miss” because I am not a woman, but nonbinary. Continue reading

A Dash of Culture

How Local Groceries Are Shaping Rochester
by Salma Caamir

More than ever, international grocery stores are available to Rochester residents. With an extensive variety of stores popping up in recent years, these shops are hard to miss, but some remain largely overlooked in our community. The range of spices and foods offered truly gives citizens a taste of the whole world only a few blocks from work or home. 


Rochester prides itself on its diverse community. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing half the world’s countries represented through its people. No matter the origin story, it isn’t a challenge to meet someone who has a different worldview from yours, and quite possibly this person is an immigrant. 

You can imagine the frustration when said immigrants came to America and realized they couldn’t find ingredients for foods they have spent their lives preparing. That is the most common underlying thread of these grocery stores—that no matter where these people come from, they bring pieces of their culture.

Walking into a metaphorical—and literal—new world can understandably be intimidating. The initial greeting of foreign music, aroma of spices and chattering of an unfamiliar language may seem like a lot for the average Rochester citizen. However, the beauty in these stores is that we get a tiny glimpse of the experience that these shop owners left behind. It’s like a free vacation to a foreign, mystical country. The only difference? You can walk out of those stores and resume your regular routine. In contrast, the majority of these owners put their lives on pause in their home countries to pursue new life in America. For them, this is no vacation.


That story is not a new one. The immigrant narrative is an underlying theme in American history and is deeply embedded in Rochester’s roots. But because of a tightly knit culture, many people feel a sense of anxiety walking into these groceries. Even as a child of immigrants,
I still find myself a bit nervous when I have to run an errand for my mom and go into one of our wonderful Somali grocers in Rochester. With these stores there is no language barrier. There is no culture barrier. Why on earth would I be so intimidated to walk in?

This is a prime example of the mere-exposure effect, a social psychology phenomenon that we often submit to in our daily lives. According to the American Psychological Association, the mere-exposure effect is “the finding that individuals show an increased preference for a stimulus as a consequence of repeated exposure to that stimulus.” In simpler terms, people are naturally less inclined to go out of their way to do something that deviates from their personal norm. For me, growing up more inclined to go to Walmart than Halal Meat made stepping into a store of my family’s origin incredibly nerve-racking. But while finding variety in our lives is a challenge, it’s important to try so we can grow as people.


Consider trying to diversify your food palate. There is an extensive range of international grocers here in Rochester, and each holds a multitude of cultures. Instead of being intimidated by the experience, try to put yourself in the shoes of the people who had to grow accustomed to the feeling of unfamiliarity. Remaining tied in the bonds of fear of what you don’t know limits yourself from making new bonds, meeting new people and trying some great food!  


Collecting and Preserving
the Stories of Local Women
By Erin Pagel

At times, women of history can be obscured or hidden.  Their lives, their work, their art and their stories can be overshadowed by spotlights focused elsewhere or the ongoing passage of time. In the spirit of Women’s History Month, we look to a group of Rochester women who are telling the stories of local women and illuminating the extraordinary accomplishments of women in our communities.   Continue reading

Around the Town

Unique Products from Local Businesses
By Elizabeth Harris

Weighted Blanket – Ashley’s Hallmark
Weighted blankets have become very popular for people of all ages. They are known to help reduce stress and anxiety by mimicking the feeling of a cozy embrace. This supposedly increases Continue reading


Great dates, chance encounters and memorable gifts
By Melissa Peterson

My husband and I have gone on a date every Monday night since our very first date in 2015. As I write this, we have been on 213 Monday Night Date Nights, which typically involve dinner and a nightcap. We’ve let nothing stop our tradition—not holidays, traveling or business. 

Here are some ideas for you to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone, as well as with friends. Continue reading