— How does your experience growing up in Stockholm as a Black woman compare to your daughters growing up in Brooklyn?
It’s still shaping - our daughters are only 11 and 13. They already have a more global perspective than I had growing up. Their inspiration bank is much more vast than I could ever have imagined. They have access to more information and experiences and are able to connect dots across topics in a way that is amazing and that is shaping how they view the world and their place in it. I love witnessing their journey in shaping their identity based on our history, our cultures and what’s happening in the world today.
— Do you practice any family traditions from either yours or your husband’s culture?
Food is the big connector in our families and between our cultures! We eat our traditional foods at home on a regular basis.
— With such a rich and diverse lineage, what language/s do you speak at home?
We mostly speak English. However there are several languages circulating. Our daughters hear me speak Swedish and Tigrinya daily. My husband is from Ghana and speaks Ga. Then our oldest daughter is learning Spanish, while the youngest is learning French.
— Moving to the US as an adult, what was the attraction for you, and how did you navigate this transition between cultures and practice?
Coming to New York was like finding a new home away from home. I have always felt at home here because it is a place where I can be all that I am. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy or comes without challenges. For example raising children in NY - this is the most rewarding place to be culturally - the access to art, music, languages, cultures, traditions, experiences, social groups. I’m always in awe of the conversations our daughters are able to hold due to their cultural experiences and what they have had access to. However on the other hand, it comes with practical challenges - there exists little to zero collective support for families.
— Can you talk us through the initial motivations to start community organization One Love Community, and how it has grown to where it is today?
It started as a response to the pandemic and the ever increasing lines at food pantries. I saw people risking their lives and standing in lines for hours to secure food. I felt I had to take action. When a friend started a community fridge in Harlem, I thought that was a genius idea that would address food insecurity (in NY alone the number of food insecure families increased by 36% from 1.2 to 1.5 million. The estimated number for this year is 1.5 -2million. 1 in 4 children are food insecure), food waste (close to 40% of all food produced in US is wasted), the lines (fridges are available 24/7 and allows for respect), culturally-sensitive food (fridges can be stocked differently depending on neighborhood), privacy and respect (people are encouraged to take what they need).
Our mission is to connect, engage and empower our communities through education and providing access to free, fresh and healthy food. We lead with respect, dignity and health. One Love invites anyone and everyone to participate - we are taking consistent actions that are working towards long term positive changes in our communities and towards a sustainable future.
It’s continuously growing and evolving. We have a One Love fridge and help support another 20 in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. Today we do daily picks up of food donations and are redistributing an average of 15,000- 20,000 lbs of food per week to fridges. I’m very excited that we have partnered with a farm that will grow produce for One Love to loop into the community fridge network. We are currently fundraising to secure a One Love van that would allow us to increase the number of pickups and the number of families we can reach.
— As a devotee to community driven projects, can you tell us about your immediate community of women in Brooklyn?
I’m inspired daily by the women in our community. Our community is strong. It was reinforced even more during the pandemic when many people were isolated or sick - we stayed connected, grounded and grew. One unexpected thing that is so beautiful with One Love and the groundwork that we are doing is I’m getting to know many of the women in our community in a completely new way. The level of care, generosity and commitment displayed have made my respect for all of them grow even more.
The power of community is manifested everyday through the One Love community.