As we reported earlier this week, Local Harvest Cafe & Grocery faces imminent closure (and we mean imminent) if it doesn't raise at least $70,000 by February 7. Although there has been some backslash for the community bailout, Local Harvest has already rasied over $40,000.
Curtis Sittenfeld, whose book Sisterland won our award for best book by a local author, made an offer via Twitter this week to help out the beleaguered business. We spoke to her about her proposition and why Local Harvest is important to St. Louis.
"I'd probably do it for less!" Sittenfeld tells Gut Check. "Obviously I don't think there's an incredibly high likelihood that it'll come to pass, but I would definitely do it. I think that Local Harvest is definitely a force for good in St. Louis. If it's something that people value having in the community, and they feel like they can make a contribution to keeping it afloat, why not?"
Sittenfeld, whose third novel was set here in St. Louis, moved to the Gateway to the West in 2007 for her husband's job. Her New York Times op-ed about being an outsider in STL ruffled some feathers (and was shared ad-nauseam on Midwestern social media), but we've come to think of her as one of our own.
She says part of the magic of Local Harvest is that it makes it much, much easier to eat locally, which is an increasing concern of many St. Louisans. Sittenfeld met co-owner Maddie Earnest a few years ago, and within minutes they were comparing birthing stories. But that's not the only reason she wants to help Local Harvest.
"There can be different prejudices about a place like St. Louis -- I think some people think I myself reinforce those prejudices in my writing about the city, but I think that there are some outsiders who would be surprised that a place like Local Harvest exists in St. Louis," Sittenfeld says. "I don't think its surprising, and I'm glad that it does exist and I hope it continues to exist."
Sittenfeld is going even further by appearing at the Local Harvest Tower Grove grocery store this Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., selling and signing copies of her St. Louis-set book, Sisterland. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Local Harvest.
Local Harvest is also getting some help this weekend from craft brewery 4 Hands (1220 South Eight Street; 314-436-1559). On Friday, January 31 from noon to midnight, $2 of every beer sold at the brewery will go to Local Harvest, plus a free show from The Jungle Fire at 8:30 p.m. Local Harvest employees will be on hand from 7 to 10 p.m. to sell punch cards and gift certificates.
As for the $50,000 manuscript offer, Sittenfeld says she hopes some one will be interested. "I don't feel like I have lots of talents in life, but I feel like I'm excellent at giving people feedback in their writing I realized that's not something most people can afford, but I like to think I'd be worth every penny!" she laughs.
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