Page Two

Page Two
The Austin Chronicle has had a long-term relationship with the Wheatsville Co-op. Early on, Wheatsville was one of our most economical sources of feeding the staff (then at about 10-15 people) when the occasion seemed to demand it. Stacks of cold cuts, breads, fruit, cookies, chips... a Wheatsville spread would not only provide a mass feeding, but supplementary sandwiches, often for days.

For a time, I lived a few blocks from the Chronicle office, on the tip of an imaginary equilateral triangle with Wheatsville as the third point. I didn't have a car, so most evenings, after work, I would walk over to Wheatsville and buy dinner. Occasionally, when I was really broke, I'd head over to the Chronicle after hours, take any food remnants left from the refrigerator and whip up a Wheatsville deli stew with whatever was on hand.

The Chronicle and I both moved out of the neighborhood within in the last decade, but Wheatsville for lunch is still a hallowed Chronicle tradition on Tuesdays.

Wheatsville, besides its critical place in Chronicle mythology, is a crucial community center, a source of ideas and information, as well as food and products. In a town with at least two great supermarkets -- Central Market and Whole Foods -- Wheatsville also acts as a community center. This is both its strength and its weakness. Ironically, many of the ideas about food and the function of a supermarket, which Wheatsville and other co-ops pioneered, are now what is making these super food stores so successful. No charges of any kind of cross-cultural/economic imperialism here, Whole Foods was developing many of the same ideas (and many different ones as well) at the same time. One of the great legacies of the alternative food co-ops is their influence on mainstream American supermarkets.

Beyond legacy, though, Wheatsville is an alive and thriving supermarket. It was disturbing, then, for members to receive a notice from the store, saying that business was down and the store was hurting; assistant politics editor Amy Smith tells this whole story in this issue. This being Austin, so far the community has responded by supporting Wheatsville (I know I have been back several times recently), but a store doesn't live and thrive on sympathy. It flourishes because of an ongoing relationship with its customers. Wheatsville is unique, of course, in that this relationship was its organizing sensibility. This store, after all, was started by its customers.

For years now, the way our "Postmarks" section has worked is that I pass along most of the letters we receive for inclusion within an issue. Currently, Lee Nichols is the letter-meister, verifying letters and demanding full names, and all the letters deemed "print-worthy" are readied for production. Each issue, when we design the available "Postmarks" space, either Nick Barbaro or I pick the letters to fill that space (we have oddly contradictory taste in letters and will often run the same set in almost exactly reverse order).

Lately, though we've had more space, we're also getting a lot more letters. We've always tried to run as many as we could fit in each issue, and those unprinted are saved for possible future use, but a lot, maybe almost half, are never printed. Starting last week, all of those "print-worthy" letters we get each week are being posted on the Chronicle's web page, whether or not they're published in the paper. The way things have been going, there will probably always be more letters on the web than we are able to get into issues. n

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Page Two
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Louis Black, Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

Louis Black, July 14, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle