Mississippi Market & Great River T’ai Chi Ch’uan

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Two Twin Cities businesses observed their 30th year anniversaries in October. Mississippi Market, St. Paul’s premier natural and organic food cooperative with more than 9,000 member-owners, commemorated its milestone at its annual meeting for member-owners in late October. Great River T’ai Chi Ch’uan, one of the oldest t’ai chi schools in the Midwest, held an open house at its center at 1940 Hennepin Ave. S. in Minneapolis.

“In 30 years, we’ve seen our fair share of ups and downs, but we’ve remained committed first and foremost to our customers and community, and that’s why we’ve been successful,” said Gail Graham, general manager for Mississippi Market. “It’s a joy and honor to work for a business that exists for reasons beyond selling a product – we’re helping people live healthier lives. We’re feeding them good, real food. We’re educating them on smart lifestyle decisions. We’re connecting them to their community. This is why I believe Mississippi Market will be around for the next 30 years and beyond.”

Mississippi Market opened on the corner of Saint Clair Avenue and Pascal Street in 1979 with the same mission it has today – to provide healthy, unprocessed food to the local community. St. Paul residents wholly supported the co-op, and by the late 1980s, Mississippi Market moved to a new space with more room at the corner of Randolph and Fairview avenues in the Highland Park neighborhood. In 1999, due to strong consumer demand for organic and natural foods, the co-op opened its second store at the corner of Selby Avenue and Dale Street. This location remains today, and also houses the co-op’s administrative offices. In July 2009, again due to customer demand, Mississippi Market opened a new store at 1500 W. 7th St. in St. Paul’s West End neighborhood, closing its Randolph and Fairview store.

Great River’s Director Barbara Davis and associate director Cheryl Powers have taught ongoing t’ai chi classes and workshops at numerous venues in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Mankato, Iowa City, as well as at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Macalester College, Minneapolis Public Schools, Concordia University in St Paul, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Mankato State University, the YWCA, Tasks Unlimited, the Minnesota Jung Association, and at many other schools, conferences and corporations. Davis has presented at many national t’ai chi events, including the International Taijiquan Forum in Nashville this July. She is editor of Taijiquan Journal, which was nominated for an Utne Reader Award, and is author of two highly respected books on t’ai chi.

T’ai chi practice has been shown in numerous scientific studies to improve balance, blood circulation, posture, gait, mood, and to reduce stress and blood pressure. Related to ch’i-kung (qigong), it originated in China as a martial art more than 200 years ago. Today, its picturesque moves can be seen among early morning practitioners who gather in China’s parks to cultivate the “ch’i” (qi), the life energy.

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