When Jeremy Gharineh and Jeremy Mathison conversed about their goals to open a brewery, “community” topped the list.
Members of Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative, 3134 California Street NE,, cannot only relish in the taste of fresh crafted beer, but also have the satisfaction of knowing that they own part of a brewery that actively contributes to the community.
“No one really buys into a co-op to make money,” said Gharineh. “All of our money goes back into the community. If it’s [our revenue] not reinvesting in making the business more able to offer services to the community, it’s [our revenue] actually funding the community.”
Established in 2015, the brewery is the first 308a co-op in Minnesota. Broken Clock strives to make a good brew, but also help members and the community by empowering them to make change, educate, and foster conversations with the intention of eliminating barriers and creating more access. Members can also participate in decision-making and volunteer with community partnerships the brewery creates. The partnerships are member-voted by the 1.000-plus Broken Clock community and invested in based on core values and partnership-driven goals.
Gharineh thinks the model used by the brewery creates the co-op value that monetary earnings are invested directly into the community and internally with other members, instead of outside intermediaries. He also believes it gives employees more control over their work environment. “By doing a model in which the money is really used as a tool rather than a proxy, we are able to stay a person-centered worker model,” said Gharineh. “Employees are empowered to make decisions on the things that impact their job, as opposed to our board of directors making those decisions because it impacts a dollar.”
The brewing company also established a race-equity committee to create a three-tiered plan to focus on changing internal representation, creating a more welcoming space, actively partnering with other breweries of color, and advocate to lobby the legislature about equity-related issues that directly impact people of color. After partnering with Brewing Change Collaborative, another local group with similar core values, a race-equity focused board member position was created. The new board member chairs the race-equity committee, while also activating the three-tiered plan.
Since the race-equity position began, not only has funding been secured for a BIPOC scholarship to attend the beer brewing program at MCTC, it has secured opportunities for diversity and inclusion training for staff and co-op members.
Telling the stories of Black Minnesotans
A collection of beer focusing on the stories of historic Black Minnesotans was also developed. The beers, called the “Messenger” series, are a collaboration with other local partners.
“It’s a series we are doing to tell stories of the impacts of Black Americans through the struggle of equity in Minnesota,” said Gharineh. “We’ve done four different beers. Each beer, we contract with a different artist of color to do the artwork. We work with brewers of color across the Brewing Change Collaborative to do these unique beers and resource ingredients that are native to the countries for which the stories or the individuals come from originally while also telling the story through beer.”
Advocating for race-equity legislative change as it relates to breweries is also a goal. Gharineh said the focus is mainly on “conversations around the meaning of community safety and what role breweries can play to help foster community safety outside of the traditional policing efforts.”
“Because everyone is connected and so many of the people at the brewery are your friends and part of your community, if someone gets inebriated, there is someone else looking out for them,” said Gharineh. “‘I will give you a ride home’- that just became part of our ethos. When we started having conversations around community safety in general, it was not a hard thing for us to say we are not going to call the police. There are better options than that.”
Gharineh, who considers himself a person of color, grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and says he realized more about his Persian culture later in his life. This drives his goal to help others see within themselves and develop stronger connections with communities who can take action.
“I gained so much out of finding my own story that it feels to me there is endless opportunity to help others realize who they are and what anchors their story,” said Gharineh. “To me, that is one of the greatest travesties of humanity that anyone would live a life of feeling isolated and disconnected from others. The thing I think makes the human experience so interesting is our opportunity.”
Now a resident of Columbia Heights, Gharineh plans to continue his equity work at the brewery while also finding other spaces where he can advocate for others. When he is not brewing beers, Gharineh works for Hennepin County Public Health collecting and building a database using an equity lens and helping facilitate community outreach work for the current COVID response.
“I am driven by passion,” said Gharineh. “I look for opportunities to do what I care about because that is when I am my most full self and when I am the most productive. I do better work when I care about it. Whatever opportunities are out there, my passions are community, fighting for equity, and fighting to change the system of oppression.”
For more information on Broken Clock Brewing visit: https//www.brokenclockbrew.com and for more information about Brewing Change Collaborative, visit: Brewing Change Collaborative https://www.instagram.com/brewingchangemn/ (@brewingchangemn) on Instagram.
Below: Handcrafted beer pour. Jeremy Gharineh showcasing member artwork in the brewery. (Photos by Marla Khan-Schwartz)