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Rise Up #90: Jennifer Koertner is a tasty part of a community hub in Mt. Morris, Illinois

Jennifer Koertner

I talk about ‘community’ a lot.

It’s a word that gets used a lot lately. It seems that every group of more than 5 people is a community. Maybe the word is going to go the way of ‘authentic’ or ‘organic’ or ‘artisan’ or ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom.’

Jeepers, that’s a gloomy lede. Sorry about that.

It’s just that, in the weeks since I talked with Jennifer Koertner about her bakery Jen’s Breads, I’ve had cause to think of things that we take for granted, which are actually quite fragile. Like this idea of community.

The good news is that these gloomy thoughts have me thinking more and more about my talk with Jennifer. She’s someone who is really doing it. Making ‘community’ real.

As in, setting up her bakery in a shared kitchen, which is part of the community hub in her small town. Building connections with her neighbours as they come to the theatre, or the community centre, or come specifically for her nourishing bread.

And Jen is keeping it small enough that she and her baker, Sarah, can stay in touch with the people who buy her bread and other baking, whether it’s at the farmer’s market in summer or at the community centre in winter.

We talk about how bakeries are a vital part of a vibrant small town and Jennifer is doing her part at Mt. Morris. I’m so glad I got a chance to talk with her, learn about her bakery and feel her bubbly, positive energy. It’s way, way better than my gloomy lede. You’re really going to enjoy this talk.

You can listen to the show on your favourite podcast app, from the Rise Up! podcast website or using the handy audio app below.