Article by Shiloh Slaughter
Photo of Dawn Goodrow Morrell by Rick Moreau

Once upon a summer in downtown Saginaw, a young businesswoman planted an idea that blossomed into what is now known as Dawn of a New Day Café. The young businesswoman, Dawn Goodrow Morrell, had a vision to bring high-quality organic products to the Saginaw community, while simultaneously contributing to the local economy. I could write about the café objectively, but Dawn has become part of the web that is Saginaw's community. Dawn of a New Day Café is Saginaw’s café, and also mine.

Though today I visit the café, now located on 210 Washington Ave. in downtown Saginaw, I cannot help but reminisce about the café's roots …

As I walked down Franklin Street, gripping a crumpled napkin in my fist, my nose in a book checked out from Saginaw's Hoyt Library, my eyes lifted to a new café, literally right under my desk. My desk was on the fourth floor of the Bearinger Building, where I rented a space along with other local bands (John Vasquez and the Bearinger Boys and Jeremy Valender) and artists (Eric Schantz and Geoff Pelkey). After a long day of writing, listening to band practices blend together behind vibrating walls, I began taking the elevator down to the café. I was there, watching local artists planting their own seeds in the community, along with the café's help.

Since that summer of 2005, Dawn of a New Day Café has provided venues for local artists. The first show I ever attended was Bakari McClendon's Wax Poetic Wednesdays, a night full of jazz, hip hop, and poetry. The diverse crowd was a relief, another step toward destroying the invisible color boundary that Saginaw's born-and-raised know to be the Saginaw River. I heard acoustic, jazz, hip hop, rock. confessional poetry, political and personal, started an on-going debate among the next generations. I began a good friendship with Bakari. In the following years, we met with graphic designer Dave Smith (Please Believe) to start brainstorming for Full Spectrum Collective, a collection of local artists seeking venues for other artists to sell their work. In the summer of 2008, in the alley just outside Dawn of a New Day's previous location on Franklin Street, Full Spectrum held its first Rally in the Alley. The festival was a success, bringing Saginaw an all-day outside event, hosting poetry readings (Assegid Mersha, Seth Patrick) and music (Mike Florez and Our Space in Time), while local artists and civilians painted murals to beautify our city. Meanwhile, the café served the crowd Higher Grounds organic coffee drinks, 100 percent natural juice smoothies, and Dawn's Deliciousness: sandwiches to satisfy the meat lover, vegan, and vegetarian in all of us.

These are some not-so-ancient relics Dawn has contributed to and planted within our Saginaw community. Like many entrepreneurs who understand the challenges of planting new ideas in a struggling economy, Dawn welcomes walk-ins and their ideas, and she will listen to others' dreams about bringing flavor to our Saginaw community smorgasbord. When the café switched locations, it didn't take long for the Beans Bunny to spread the word about a familiar café bringing new swag to Sag. Right next to Wally's Sandwich Shop, still just a ten-minute-walk from the Hoyt Library and the Farmers Market. Glancing up from between pages of Chaucer, as I lounged on a black leather sofa, I spotted hopeful stickers behind the register that I personally know as landmarks to the heart of this café. A few of the stickers on napkin dispensers and espresso machines read "Support Your Local Economy" and "Make Coffee, Not War." Dawn doesn't only greet customers with a warm smile and personal attention; she brings refreshing hope to our community.

© Shiloh Slaughter, 2009