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To Future ‘Remember Whens’: A Commitment To Hope

photo credit: Dan Zeller, Minneapolis, May 2020 | @lacroixboix_

Recently our staff has taken to sharing ‘remember whens’ with each other. We’re not even halfway through 2020, and we’ve already experienced (and reminisced about) what seems like several lifetimes’ worth of events.

The biggest kick of wry nostalgia for our industry came during the early days of the COVID-19 emergency when we recalled, “Remember when our biggest worry was what the new tariffs were going to do to wine and whiskey prices?” We slowly adjusted to a new pandemic-induced normal, which included adding a new Curbside Pickup arm of our business, sanitizing everything we could think of, Virtual Happy Hours, and required face coverings. 

And then, our ‘remember whens’ became a lot more somber. 

Suddenly, our city became flooded with grief, anxiety, fear, and anger. We bore witness to yet another horrific, senseless and brutal death in Minneapolis’ black community. Our city, followed by our nation and then the entire world, responded with calls to action and demands for justice for the murder of George Floyd, along with countless other names before him.

How do you get nostalgic about the absurdly “light-hearted” days of Social Isolation Cheese Boxes and Restaurant Relief Wine Packs? Where do those things now fit into this complicated, seemingly unsolvable puzzle that our community is trying to work out? How in the world does one find oneself in a situation where the ‘remember whens’ only dealt with one crisis?

It’s not easy to hold both a pandemic and a city on fire in one’s consciousness. But it’s important to remember that the fires (both literal and metaphoric) didn’t just “begin” a few days ago—the dry kindling has been growing for longer than any of us have been alive. At this point, can there be any doubt that our efforts to live up to the great promise of our country have fallen woefully short?

Sorting through the debris (again, both literal and metaphoric) will be painstaking. The aftermath of this past week will be felt for a long time to come. Communities and small businesses have experienced deep wounds and extreme loss as the result of a week of rioting and looting. But what we know and have already seen is that our city is not one to back down from fighting for change and growth, as hard and painful as it may be. 

Every small business is a dream being made real. They provide the texture, personality and richness of a place. As a member of this beautifully complex community, we are committed to supporting these fellow small businesses as they pick up the pieces and rebuild. In doing so, we can also help the communities that cherished them and now miss them so dearly.

From loss, growth can emerge if only we allow it. We, at France 44, stand beside those striving for justice and progress. We resolve to listen to and acknowledge the experiences of black and other POC leaders and communities. We will share our strength to help lift up those who need a hand. We will strive to support a diverse community, based on mutual respect and admiration, that draws strength from many voices, backgrounds, groups, and identities. We will add our voice to all people of good will who seek to bring about this reality of real opportunity and equal justice for all.

We will do our part to add a more hopeful tone to future ‘remember whens’: Remember when Minneapolis came together after a devastating tragedy and started really acknowledging and addressing the grievous injustices endured by our black neighbors? Remember when we helped fellow family-owned, small businesses rebuild their livelihood? Remember when we came together in the name of inclusivity and diversity? Remember when we helped build a city where everyone can make and enjoy their best life? 

Remember when we stopped being afraid?

It is in all our power to make this dream a reality; all it takes is for us to choose it.

In the time ahead, France 44 will be partnering with and supporting a number of organizations to help create this future in Minneapolis. We know our actions will speak louder than our words, and we hope our continued and active involvement over time will show our commitment to a more unified community. We invite you to participate, and hope you’ll follow and take part in our efforts on this blog and through our social media channels.



Modist Brewing – a daily update on what donations/supplies are needed; collection site at the brewery

Surly Brewing – Surly Gives A Damn has ongoing events to collect/distribute supplies, serve meals, participate in blood drives, and more at several locations in the Twin Cities and in suburbs

Resources to Support Minneapolis’ Protests & Community – a master list of volunteer opportunities, assistance, relief funds, petitions, educational resources, and more