Community in a council

January 6, 2020

The FareStart Community Council was first established in 2017 and is made up of a diverse set of advocates who amplify our work and drive community engagement. They come from a broad spectrum of professionals from banks to hotels and from artificial intelligence development to legal work and they all share one thing in common – they believe in the opportunities our students seize through FareStart. 

Joshua Russert, a member of the Community Council, is a long-time FareStart supporter who has been working with us ever since the creation of the Youth and Young Adult Barista Program, a partnership with YouthCare.

What’s your day job and what do you do? 

I work in marketing and sales for a coffee company in Olympia called Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasting Company. We have shops in Olympia, two new shops opening next year (2020) in Tacoma and a second roastery in Atlanta.  

How did you first hear about FareStart? 

When the barista program started, I came on and worked with Bronwen Serna and Jeff Thompson and ran the program for about two years. Years before that I had my first meal at FareStart while the founder Chef Lee was still running the place. FareStart and I go way back.  

What is the FareStart Community Council and what do you do? 

The Community Council is a group of community members across different workflows in our region who seek to find new and innovative ways to engage with community beyond the main techniques we have like guest chef nights and the gala. We are finding new ways to engage with next-generation folks like younger people moving into the Seattle region. We want to make sure they have the opportunity to connect to FareStart’s mission and get involved.   

Why are you involved with FareStart? What keeps you engaged? 

This is an organization that creates community around food. 

Both my wife and I are very interested in social justice and the way that we form a community to pursue justice. We recognize that we live in a world that is in some ways broken. Investing money to help alleviate that brokenness is good, is, of course, good, but more importantly, we must create the situations for people to invest in themselves. So similarly, those of us who want to ally with people experiencing homelessness need to invest ourselves beyond just giving dollars. These issues around poverty and homelessness all rise from the human condition. We feel that we have to get our family and our friends to have a real experience, to feel something if we want to make real change. 

The centrality of food in the human experience drew me to FareStart. There is nothing like a Guest Chef Night. You can see the numbers and read the reports and that’s all good, but when people actually gather together and share food it reaches down into something more primal and more real in their lives. The best way to touch someone is to come in and share food and hear people’s stories. Then the next step is coming in and making the food and sitting across the table from someone and talking about life.