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July 24, 2018

 

Monday, July 23rd; 10:53pm

 

Dear Community,

 

It’s the Monday night after our first big, BIG event.

 

My house is an absolute disaster. There are signs, and chords, and flyers everywhere I look. Some sort of rodent got into the outdoor garbage—excited to sample the remnants of our grilled cheese trials Saturday night.  And we have absolutely no idea where any of our house keys are after being passed back and forth between at least 15 people who helped us execute on Sunday (for those of you who don’t know, All Square is exactly 1 block from my home—perfect!  Or not…..?!).

 

My fiancée escaped up North to recover from 12 hours of sandwich assembly and days—DAYS—of physical labor.  (It’s OK; she’s a Board member….haha)

 

The weekend was nuts; our home is in disarray; and all I can do is smile.

 

After spending the day moving on to the next hosts of tasks necessary to launch our restaurant and institute on September 8th—I caught myself just wanting to take the rest of the night to write all of you. For some reason, not one thing in this moment matters more than sharing my thoughts, feelings, and gratitude with the community who helped us create All Square.

 

First of all, let me throw out that we sold nearly 600 (!) grilled cheese yesterday—a number I can hardly even comprehend!  And though we really needed these sales financially, as we prepare to onboard our Institute Director and first cohort, it’s really not the capital that I’m most exited about. It’s the energy, the warmth, and the absolute thrill that unfolded yesterday.

 

I thought my heart was actually going to explode with pride, with joy, as crowds began to appear at 4047 Minnehaha. It’s one thing to build this “thing” that you trust is going to manifest successfully. Yet… to see it actually come to life?  To exchange handshakes, and hugs, and smiles with so, so, so many people: friends, neighbors, supporters, strangers (smiling).  There, frankly, are not words for the absolute happiness I experienced throughout the course of the entire day.

 

My brother-in-law was our chef for the day and he absolutely killed it!  My sister was right by his side; the perfect team. We had volunteers from every chapter of my life there; our Board was in full effect, our Chief Technology Officer was double-fisting our cash register and sauce/dip operation; our Development Manager was (literally) running sandwiches, Solero bars, and hoards of chips to our tent.  One of my dearest friends was interfacing between the chef’s station and the customers—getting everyone their sandwiches: service with a smile!

 

 

Of course, we’ll SOON have a team, a class, to execute these events. But to have so many of our people, our community, make this day—this event—happen?  And to make it happen so successfully, so gracefully and enthusiastically?  I’m. So. Grateful.

 

 

When I stepped and watched the operation, I almost fainted. And that’s not lip service. Swollen; my heart was swollen with pride. I honestly had a moment where I questioned: Is this happening?  Is All Square….. actually going to work?  That’s….. just my truth. A big piece of me has trusted for so long that this would come together perfectly. But I’ve also battled doubt and fought hard against letting uncertainty get the best of me. Fear… is a powerful thing.  And I’ve lived some very, very dark days throughout these past two years.

 

But the event was just… well, pardon my candor. But it was f-ing amazing.  I’m truly not sure how to summarize it other than that. And I trust that—though we’ll undoubtedly face a sea of setbacks and adversity as time and All Square unfolds—this venture is going to be an absolute success. There’s just too many talented hands and hearts involved.  There’s a force, a light, that has started to take on a life of it’s own. And I believe in it.

 

 

Oh, and for those of you who caught Shapeshift’s performance?!  How INSANE was that?!  I think their performance, and the smiles and love that it generated, marked an absolute peak for me in this whole journey. I truly couldn’t have imagined a more perfect group of humans to contribute to this special day. How memorable. How beautiful.  How… timely.  Our team has just spent countless hours really trying to understand, craft, and refine the identity—the brand—that is All Square. Our DNA matters; how we engage with people matters. And Shapeshift really captured the warmth and electricity that we intend to embody.  I just LOVE THEM!

 

I think the other thing that I’m feeling particularly moved by at present is the number of people that thanked me, personally, for All Square and all that it does, and will, bring to our community.  I so so appreciate these incredible gestures, and am so humbled by everyone’s support. 

 

BUT.  I think what I need to say is that… you all have NO IDEA what this whole thing has brought to me, and my life.  Selfishly, I wonder if perhaps I’ll be the one to benefit the most from All Square. That certainly isn’t my intention, or the fuel behind my drive. But I can truly say I am the happiest and most motivated and most fulfilled I’ve ever been. My life, every footstep, every check, every meeting, every tear, every email, every setback, every conversation suddenly has immeasurable meaning.

 

My team, this community, is family. All Square is home. And—in the wake of losing both of my parents—nothing, nothing, could mean more to me.

I've.... well, lately, I've been trying to understand my place in this universe without my parents physically on the planet—I’ve so often questioned: who do I belong to? 

 

But the answer is simple: I belong to all of you. I belong to All Square.

 

--

 

Tonight, I glanced out my kitchen window and saw my neighbor in her kitchen—and wanted to shout through the glass: HEY!  Did you like your grilled cheese?!  (I swiftly realized that would be totally odd/creepy… but still….!) And in that moment, I felt so damn close to everyone around me. I felt so damn close to every single human that stopped by yesterday—and to every single human that has contributed to this effort. And to every single human that is—or will be—a part of this milestone; this movement.

 

This—is community.

This—is my community.

This—is OUR community.

 

With that, I just needed to say…. Thank you.

 

Thank you for helping to create a home for me, and—most importantly—a home for so, so many people who are excluded on the basis of having a criminal record.

 

We’re so much bigger, better, braver, and smarter than the systemic injustices that cripple our neighbors, and our neighborhoods. And I believe All Square will prove—and embody—just that.

 

Thanks for making it a reality.

 

I’m forever indebted.

 

 

In solidarity,

 

Emily Hunt Turner, Founder

 

 

 

 

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