CLINTON HILL — It's food for thought.
The specialty food market Peck’s is looking to spark conversation by posting daily thoughts about the Trump administration on a wall inside the shop.
The business, at 445A Myrtle Ave., installed a “We Are Thinking Of” wall behind its counter, where a new statement about the administration has been posted every day since shortly after Trump's inauguration.
The first sign, which went up Jan. 31, contained two thoughts: “The president of the United States fired the attorney general” and “The committee votes of both [Education secretary nominee] Betsy DeVos and [Health and Human Services secretary nominee] Tom Price.”
Store owner Theo Peck — who was inspired to create the wall after his wife returned from the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — said the thoughts are phrased as factual statements instead of opinions to get customers thinking about the issues without hurling accusations.
“We were trying to be non-confrontational. Just saying, 'This is what we’re thinking of' and encouraging other people to think of it, too,” he explained.
“Rather than saying, ‘This person is a terrible choice,’ we’re saying, ‘Do you think this person is a terrible choice?’”
Other signs have touched on the motivations of chief Trump strategist Steve Bannon, the confirmation of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and the executive order to bar refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.
Peck's has also been sharing the signs on its Instagram account using the hashtag #ClintonHillStandUp.
While Peck admitted the statements veer partisan, he said it’s “challenging” being a liberal New Yorker and not appearing to take sides.
Regardless, the signs have gotten a largely positive response from customers, who have been submitting suggestions for new thoughts via email.
The store’s first guest contributor wrote in an appeal to community members, asking them to call their congressional representatives and ask them to support a bill that would ban the president from launching a first strike of nuclear weapons without a congressional declaration of war.
“You know, for civilization,” the sign by contributor Michael A. read.
Customer Damien Duchamp, a 42-year-old professor at St. Joseph’s College, said it makes sense that a store like Peck’s would become a forum for political discussion.
“This is a community business that impacts a lot of people. This is kind of a hub for people,” he said. “These things are good, they're refreshing, they get us talking about things.”
Peck said it’s been “heartwarming” connecting with his customers in a deeper way.
“It’s nice to know that everybody in the community feels, even if it’s not necessarily in the same way,” he said.
Peck noted that the next step will be organizing a neighborhood gathering at which residents can get together to write letters, make phone calls and send emails to their representatives on the issues they care about.
Community members can submit a suggestion for the “We Are Thinking Of” wall by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.