The Greenleaf spreads its roots across campus despite adversity

Since this time last year, the Greenleaf has been transplanted, grafted, cut and trimmed, all without its say-so.

It has yet to stop growing.

Unexpected changes began at the end of the spring 2014 semester, when the student-run coffee co-op moved out of the basement of Mary Hobbs due to renovations. This year, the Greenleaf has sprouted up new locations in various parts of campus, refusing to give up in the face of turbulence.

As hopeful as it sounds that the Greenleaf can’t be chopped out of life at Guilford, I am concerned that there was ever a possibility. The Greenleaf promotes important principles such as direct trade, social justice and sustainability. It is an essential community on campus, helping us live up to our values, and should have never been put at risk.

The problems began with the move to the Greenleaf’s new location in the Milner Hall basement. The Greenleaf members kept their spirits up, and worked with the school over the summer to open the new location as soon as possible for the new semester.

When I first joined the Greenleaf in the fall of this year, members were rallying after delays in opening. Everyone was excited to get started.

Through the rest of the semester, I grew used to the cozy new space that the Greenleaf called home. I learned to make drinks and provide good service to customers. Even when I was not on shift, like many other Greenleaf members, I spent time in the space. More importantly, I grew to appreciate the community in the Greenleaf, as well as the mission of social justice and sustainability shown through the Greenleaf’s purchases and messages.

Just when the Greenleaf was getting used to its new soil, it was uprooted again. Due to failures in getting permits from the city by those overseeing the renovations, the Greenleaf’s main location never reopened for the spring 2015 semester. The members of the co-op first had to find out why, working with little information from the administration, and then had to decide what to do next.

“At the beginning of the semester we had no space, so we decided to do the mobile Greenleaf, more for having any kind of presence on campus.” said sophomore and Greenleaf training committee clerk Nellie Vinograd. “It wasn’t very successful, and it was difficult to have that as a consistent presence.”

The Greenleaf struggled to regain ground.

“Due to the nature of it closing, I think that, sadly, we’ve had a bit of a reputation for unreliability,” said sophomore and Greenleaf events committee clerk Becca Mellor.

On April 14, the Greenleaf ended the temporary Greenleaf on Wheels and opened a second permanent branch at Hege Library.

“The library opened its doors in so many ways,” said junior and Greenleaf member Addy Allred.

However, the library space does not sell specialty drinks, and functions more as a normal café than the Greenleaf’s usual unique presence.

Last Sunday, the Greenleaf held an all co-op meeting to discuss the reopening of the Milner space. Members discussed recruitment and plans for next year.

“It’s a really exciting time to be joining the Greenleaf, with two spaces opening in the fall,” said senior and business intern for the Greenleaf Irene Jacobson at the meeting.

Plans are in the works for showing the campus the Greenleaf’s potential, after all the changes and inconsistency of this year. Despite everything the members had to go through, they have high hopes for the future.

“We are coming back next year, and we are coming back strong, with members who really care about this environment and care about our mission,” Allred said.

It looks like the new Greenleaf sprouts will thrive.

“I felt like Guilford didn’t take care of us, when (the Greenleaf is) very meaningful to the Guilford community,” said sophomore and Greenleaf member Timmy Barrows. “But at the same time … because the Greenleaf closed, it really showed the Greenleaf members’ true colors.”

Wherever the Greenleaf is headed, it needs new members.

“Join us,” Vinograd said. “We can use all the help we can get, and also the patience and understanding that we are a student-run group … Each of us brings something to the table that makes the Greenleaf a very interesting community.”

Allred also had a message for Guilford.

“I hope you’ve been patient with us, and I hope that you can understand what we’re going through,” Allred said. “I also hope that you can patronize us in the future, and know that we’re growing along with you.”