Peter Friedland Additional Experience
- Journalism and community activism
As an undergraduate at Columbia College with a major in Chinese studies and Political Science, I became involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement as one of the founding members of Students for a Democratic Society. After graduating, I served in the US Peace Corps in the Philippines, including beginning my professional journalism career writing for Ang Boluntaryo, the Peace Corps Philippines magazine and the Far Eastern Economic Review, Hongkong.
I then worked as a reporter for the American Banker daily newspaper in New York City, the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut, and started “CONN-trast’, an alternative newspaper in the Hartford area. I then moved into community organizing in Harford, directing Hartford Process, a program of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group challenging an insurance-company funded downtown gentrification project.
In 1973 I joined a freelance television camera crew to go to Chile just after the coup against Salvadore Allende, and returned to the Philippines to research my second novel. When I returned I became a correspondent for Habitat, an environmental reporting series on WGBY public television in Springfield, MA. The series featured a debate between Ralph Nader and a pro nuclear power MIT professor, Norman Rasmussen, and an investigative report I did on worker deaths from cancer at the Monsanto plant in Springfield.
I carried the Monsanto reporting into freelancing for the Valley Advocate Amherst weekly and several stories for the Boston Globe, became an Emergency Medical Technician working for a local ambulance company, and wrote about emergency medical services for Firehouse, a trade magazine for firefighters based in New York City.
- Social Services and the Coffee Business
In 1975 I volunteered with the American Red Cross Springfield Chapter Disaster Services Reserve program and then became the Disaster Services Coordinator, first for the local chapter and then taking the same job in the Milwaukee chapter. This included responding to a number of large scale disasters around the U.S. as a caseworker, supervisor and Damage Assessor.
It also included helping found the first non-religious homelessness shelter in Milwaukee through an interagency task force I organized, and on returning to Springfield I replicated this approach to create the second family shelter in Massachusetts. This led to being central in the development of networks of political advocacy and social services professionals building the local, state and national efforts to end homelessness, including Service Providers Inc in Springfield, the Mass. Shelter Providers Association, and the National Coalition for the Homeless in New York and then Washington DC.
While becoming the Director of Emergency Services for the Housing Allowance Project in Springfield I earned a Master of Social Work degree at University of Connecticut in 1986. I also became the U.S. board member of Habitat International Coalition, an international housing advocacy “Non-Governmental Organization” based in Mexico City funded by various governments and international aid agencies including the U.S. Agency for International Development. This led to founding the Habitat and Environment Program which I chaired and in turn represented at the Earth Summit in Rio De Janero in 1992, where intensive international NGO negotiations occurred over the issues of integrating the housing needs of human populations with protecting the global environment.
After leaving HAP in 1993 I started a consulting business, Center to Prevent & End Homelessness, based in my home town of Northampton, working with a number of organizations and projects I’d developed over these years. This led into the founding of Café Habitat, a social impact coffee business, in partnership with the local community action agency, Hampshire Community Action Program, and Dean’s Beans, owned by activist lawyer Dean Cycon in nearby Salem Mass., and I wrote a proposal for using Cafe Habitat as a small business incubator for homeless and formerly homeless people which was funded by the US Housing and Urban Development Department for $400,000 for a three-year period.
Despite this success, internal conflict led to my leaving Café Habitat and moving on to found Global to Local Coffee in partnership with the People In Peril Shelter (formerly the Public Inebriate Program) in Worcester, along with my working at the shelter as a case manager and economic development planner. I then became a planner and later a case manager at Ed’s Place, a farm bought by the shelter in 2002. I helped plan and build two greenhouses on the 30 acre working farm, experimenting with Eliot Coleman’s “4 season growing”, and I integrated the residential rehab program into the shelter’s other services for homeless dual diagnosis clients.
This led to my interest in farming and then into work with Operation Able as the Worcester County Outreach Coordinator for New Entry Farming Project based in Lowell.
Prior to this career change effort, I left the shelter to become an Employment and Education Specialist for South Middlesex Opportunity Council, which had merged with the PIP shelter several years before, but was laid off in the recession onset in 2008, which was how I connected with the Operation Able program.
I continued with Global to Local Coffee after the shelter pulled out of the project due to dwindling funds, including roasting coffee on a machine in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Worcester. This led to my being hired as Director of Rockin’ Coffee for PAID Inc., a private company specializing in merchandising services for music celebrity groups and individuals including Aerosmith, Moody Blues and Chick Corea. I developed ‘private label’ coffee product lines for Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer as well as jazz pianist Corea.
However, sales of Rockin’ Coffee didn’t reach levels that the company’s new executives felt was adequate, given the overall failing finances of PAID, so I was laid off in August 2012.
I then volunteered as a consultant to Red Barn Coffee Roasters in Upton, whom I‘d begun working with while still at PAID, in exchange for free office space and access to their coffees and roasting equipment. And through Red Barn I joined forces with Café Solar, a for profit coffee company developed by a non-profit based at UMass Lowell, and am now working on sales and marketing with both companies in addition to continuing to develop Global to Local Coffee.