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Student’s quest for a socially conscious co-op takes a delicious turn

Jackson Ibelle SSH'19 is doing a co-op with East Somerville Main Street, photographed here on Aug. 30, 2016. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

For one Northeastern student, the quest for a socially conscious co-op has taken a delicious turn.

Jackson Ibelle, SSH’19, started his co-op with East Somerville Main Streets—a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the East Somerville community through investment and connection—with the idea that he wanted to work with people. He ended up being essential to pulling off the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year: the Foodie Crawl.

“I grew up in a city, I went to public schools, so I saw the issues people are dealing with,” Ibelle said of his Providence, Rhode Island, home. “I knew it was something I cared about and I wanted to focus on the stuff I cared about.”

When choosing a co-op, he said East Somerville Main Streets caught his eye because it offered a chance “to work directly with community members and get a lot of different experience at the same time.”

That’s certainly been the case.

Teresa Vazquez-Dodero, East Somerville Main Streets’ executive director, said Northeastern co-op students have been instrumental in helping to transform the organization and expand its reach in the past year and a half.

Ibelle specifically has been working on designing a website to highlight the neighborhood’s local businesses and events, and has played an essential role in planning the organization’s biggest annual fundraiser: a food crawl.

Now in its sixth year, the annual Foodie Crawl attracts some 1,000 people to East Somerville for its distinctive food and drink offerings. Ibelle spearheaded the logistical work of running such an event.

“He’s also been amazing at connecting East Somerville Main Streets with different departments at Northeastern to attract volunteers for the event,” Vazquez-Dodero said. “This is an event that requires 60 to 70 volunteers, but we’ve run a smooth event with 50 percent of that. Thanks to Jackson, there’s a big chance that we’re going to have our dreams come true this year as far as being able to run it at full capacity.”

Ibelle, who is a sociology major, said the experience thus far has taught him myriad different skills, but his fulfillment comes from working with the people in the community.

“I get to build relationships with people and help them have a voice within the city, connecting them to resources they might otherwise not have,” he said. “We’re just going to keep doing the things we do for the community to be a success.”

The Foodie Crawl—during which food-lovers are invited to sample the fare along Broadway—will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at a discount in advance and will also be available at the event. A student discount is also available. More information can be found here.

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