Have you heard of the Sisu Coffee Project? It’s a new community focused collaboration with our friends Hannah from Hoaglund Designs and Sarah from the Java Moose. Here are some of the basic details:
About the Project
We have created a special coffee blend, roasted right here at Fika in Lutsen, MN, that we're selling to support our community. $10 from each bag sold will be used to support the livelihoods and everyday needs of those around us This project came from a desire to help our neighbors after Covid-19 and other tragedies (teen suicide and fires in Grand Marais) hit our community last spring. We realized that so many are suffering, and for reasons well beyond those that were showing on the surface. So we wanted to do something. We put our friendly rivalries aside and joined forces with Java Moose and Hoaglund Designs.
The meaning of Sisu
We named this project the Sisu Coffee Project because Sisu is a Finnish word which captures the idea of one's ability to keep fighting against all odds when others have given up. It's with the spirit of Sisu that we want to hold up and honor all of the Cook County residents who have put their grit, bravery, tenacity of purpose and resilience forward to carve out a life of their own on our rugged North Shore. Though it is beautiful, it is not an easy place to live.
The goal of this project is to raise $30,000 to put toward this effort. The money raised will be put toward immediate needs that members of the Cook County (Schroeder, Tofte, Lusten, Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, Hovland and Grand Portage, MN) community have. We know the needs of community members vary, but we envision these funds being used for things like rent assistance, grocery gift cards or boxes of diapers.
Why we choose this project
With all of that said, I want to share with you a glimpse of my heart and why I decided to have Fika be part of this. If you have followed us for some time you may recognise or have heard me speak of our three core values: coffee, community and adventure.
The Fika Coffee Values
These three values can be best described as our main drivers, these concepts help direct and drive Fika and the areas that I will choose to invest into. These three things, for the most part, can not be separated because of the nature of Fika. However, different projects, ideas, inspirations and dreams may weigh more heavily on one value than another.
They also work on at least three different levels: the Fika Crew (those employed by Fika), our local geographical community (Cook County) and the wider community of Fika. This includes friends of Fika who may call another physical location home but are connected to Fika through our wholesale program, online shop and/or visitors of our Cook County community.
Coffee with a Purpose
The Sisu Coffee Project falls into all three categories but is mostly a community focused one. It carries adventure with it, because we all took on an unknown risk that we have collectively agreed is worth it. We are committed to selling 3,000 bags of the Sisu Blend which in turn will raise $30,000 for our community. We have all agreed to have the majority of the sales ($10/bag) going to our community fund.
Coffee also plays a significant role here as it’s the vehicle that is carrying the project per say, but it’s not the focus. Community is the focus. Our Cook County Community is the main driver.
Community Over Competition
Community over competition is a phrase that we use to explain this project. From day one, I have said that I want Fika to be “the best business FOR the community, not, the best business IN the community.”
You can swap out other words for business in this equation too, like “school” or “church”. This project is an example of coming together with other businesses, putting aside differences and strategic growth practices. We're looking outside of ourselves to those people, families, individuals and stories that make up our community.
Action like this can often seem unwise from a business standpoint, as it does not lead to a direct gain for the business but rather takes away from business growth. However, it is my goal to continually ask myself: is this short term loss worth the long term gain? In this case, yes it is!
Our role within the community
A second reason I have decided to be part of this project is narrative. I believe that now more than ever we should not settle for the story that is unfolding around us. Rather, we should take an active participant role in the community narrative that is unfolding.
As business owners and community members we all should take time to reflect on how we are adding, taking away, and bringing new creative ideas to our community narrative. This is not the easy way. It’s the hard and slow way. I do not believe that we should sit back and watch the stories around us unfold. Instead, we should lean into them, understand our roles in the big picture, and actively participate in how the story is told.
An invitation for you
In closing I want to invite you into the chapter that is being written for Cook County right now. We are all part of this community on one level or another. A healthy and strong community leads to healthy and strong business. We can’t have one without the other. If you have not bought a bag yet, please do. You can buy it in our cafe or online. And if you have, thank you! Your support means so much to us.
Only the beginning
As I write this we are almost ⅓ of way through this project. We still have a lot of work in front of us. I would like to ask that you would commit to buy another bag down the road. Put a reminder on your calendar to purchase a bag a month or every two months.
I look forward to sharing with you more about this project and the fruit that will come from it. I also sincerely hope and pray that this project will only be the beginning of some new and creative community collaborations for all of us.