I began my day at the Broadwell Hill Learning Center being greeted by Shiloh and Tala, and of course getting covered in hair as they begged for attention. Once they got their hellos, I began talking with Kathy about how she raises her worms and the concepts of verma-compost. I had never known that worms could be so picky about their environment. They hate light, need the right amount of moisture, and like certain foods.
This was also the first time I learned how Athens’ Own takes a lot of food waste from local businesses to create multiple different composting bins. I think this is a great method, and I think in the future if larger businesses could begin employing this form of off grounds composting for their food waste, this could be a great way for local farmers to build composting businesses, and to slowly heal the earth we have been filling with trash for the last century or more. It was around this time that I joined Constantine to talk while he replaced the wheel bearings on the Athens’ Own truck.
We began our discussion with the topic of how to use my Holistic Goal. Constantine talked about how creating a personal holistic goal can make it easier to align community and team members together. By seeing where each others goals are similar, you can create plans together to help one another achieve those goals. An example could be how my holistic goal includes having meaningful work; work that helps others. Because Athens’ Own has the goal to help community members and to create a better local economy, our goals are parallel and can work together to help reach those individual goals.
Con also used the term “compounded interest”, a common financial term, but he used it to describe how a person can “invest” in another person’s human capital, and in the long run this can lead to them receiving “interest” off each other, by taking in interest in one another. By taking the time to help one another, you can in turn benefit yourself. This works in to the marketing world by showing how taking time to include people in the marketing discussion, who may be without a business major, can make a marketing team stronger. Application of this could be using biology and conservation science students to help create a marketing plan for Broadwell Hill and Kathy’s verma-compost business; using students with Journalism or Communications majors can help a marketing team plan different ways to publicize a company like Athens’ Own. I thought this was a great way to think outside the business box, by creating a team with multiple different backgrounds. This can help to stimulate compound growth by utilizing human capital.
A specific discipline Constantine took particular interest in was that of an actuarial. This discipline uses numbers and statistics to help create an idea of what the future might look like; specifically for Con, what the world will look like for my generation’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren if people continue to take our forests and environment for granted. There needs to be a push for people to realize that the health of their communities and the Earth is a necessity, , and for people to start thinking about how to get the word out to millennials especially, because we are the next people to work for the world.
In the context of the Athens’ Own, Con describes it as being “in” internship, rather than being at an internship. The difference is that Athens’ Own wants to create a work experience that is indicative of the real world and that helps those who are “in” internship cultivate new thought paths while on their malleable journey towards the Worker Readiness Certification. Con described the opportunity to use modern gaming styles as a way to get students more involved in an internship experience, and also to get them involved in the revival of Earth. This game would have levels, one could be an individual project, such as reading At Home with Holistic Management, and others could be team based, such as a project similar to Ohio University College of Business cluster. Each level would use different incentives and goals to help keep the “player” motivated, but also to help them build up interest in the community and economy around them.
My main takeaway from our discussion was the importance of teams, and how the way to make influence is to work in groups, even if they’re not your typical persons. Thinking outside the box, and trying to find ways to get millennials involved with each other and with their surrounding communities is the only way we’re going to be able to insight change. Before I left, Constantine was putting back together the wheel bearing and began to explain to me how you would typically tighten the final bolt that much, but for how the car had aged that’s what was appropriate. I took this in my own small metaphorical way of thinking of how certain teams, like the parts of the bearing, will fit together differently, and just like our discussion about making unique teams, the car needed its own unique touch to work its best. I also learned that I should never over tighten a wheel bearing if I ever need to work on one in the future.
My time at Ohio University has opened my eyes to some of the privileges I’ve had in life. The most substantial being my availability to food. There has never been a time in my life where I have not been able to feed myself, and this is something I believe has blinded many of my fellow students as well. We all have heard the saying “There are starving children in China, eat your dinner.” but may of us don’t realize that there are starving families in Athens. I think that a project that could open the eyes of the student body to the region the live in, and create a call to action for local businesses to get involved could really be an amazing opportunity to help fight the poverty that surrounds this wealthy University.
I think this project would be best completed in steps.
Step 1: Student Awareness
This portion of the plan would involve bringing information to the students. Putting posters around campus that highlight some of the facts regarding Appalachian Poverty, maybe highlighting some groups that are already active in Athens that they may have only heard of by chance, or a widely unused resources on campus, using residence halls to participate in food drives and promotion. Step 1 is important because if students are unaware of the issue, they won’t act as a support system for our project.
Step 2: Local Business Participation
Small business are the backbone of Athens culture, and I think getting them involved in a community they have been apart of for years would be a great move. This could be smaller scale initiative such as making a “Pay it Forward” program where students can buy meals ahead of time for people in Athens who may not be able to afford it, or having reading materials about the poverty in the area, or donation boxes for local organizations. This can help support Step 1 by bringing community members and off campus residents who may not be in areas on campus that Step 1 would affect.
Step 3: University Involvement.
This is the most in-depth part of the initiative, which would be to somehow work out a system with Ohio University where the dining halls would decrease waste by turning them in to a soup-kitchen once a week. This plan is based off the idea that food from the dining halls cannot be donated because of health regulations, but if they were use utilize the left over food they have at the end of the week, they could greatly benefit the community. This will be more difficult to coordinate because it involves going through the University and there will have to be compromises based on costs for the university etc.
I am excited to be able to present this idea through Athens’ Own. I hope that this could be a great chance to get Ohio University more involved in its community and make a lasting impact on the people who surround the school.
Decision Makers: Me, Aubrey, Dad, Mom
Resources: house, family, technological devices, car (x3), tools/shop, power machinery, friends, customers, internet, greenhouse, co-workers (former and present), teachers, land, utilities, government
Money: Savings, tax refund, stocks, market sales, salary, scholarships, odd jobs,
Holistic goal: Live to experience great enjoyment, keep health(but not to the point of restricting other aspects), make an above average living wage, enjoy my work, sharpen my mind, listen to great music, look at great art, see the world, finish college, be conservative with how much I consume, do not obsess over work, remember those who were there for you, bring change in ways that I see as beneficial, do not fall to others superimposing ideas upon me (find them in my own ways), make new friends and make sure the old ones are lifelong friends, get a better car, be nature friendly, never forget my roots, read more, have a life outside work, set up garden/bird watching sight, have internet, never stop enjoying things because you think you have to stop enjoying them as you grow, adapt to new times, be prepared for whatever may come, watch more current events, don’t die till over 75.
This week has been a rather short one; I only worked one day this week due to sickness and holidays. I feel, however, that the one day I came in this week was more satisfying than the rest of last week combined. I feel that I gained some very helpful information in the form of alternative thinking in a career search, many connections I had not yet thought of applying to a potential career path. I also found the information on three pillars fairly thought provoking. Well, week two signing off.
Well, here we are first week here at Athens’ Own. Can’t say I’m too sure what I will be doing quite yet, but the company seems like it has a wide range of things it goes into, so I suppose I’ll have many potential opportunities. Well, only time will tell I suppose.
The Athens Farmers Market on Saturday is the social event of the week. The smell of food cooking and the joyful sounds of music compliment the local farmers, producers, and distributors that gather together twice a week on East State Street. The bell opens the market at 10:00 for three hours. The excitement is inspired from the abundance of local organic food, plants, soap, candles, and art for sale. It is enchanting to see a mindful community unite with smiles on their faces as they exchange money, goods, compassion and information. As their baskets and cloth bags become full the support for the local economy grows and the potential for expanding the quality of life in the community continues. The local political and non-profit groups allow for education, generosity, and the relevant news to flow, facilitating democracy through engagement.
Another form of democracy is actively supporting your community by buying locally. The Athens Farmers Market is located at the mall on East State Street, named The Market on State. It is in the parking lot and is easily accessed by the highway or the bike path. Constantine Faller, owner of Athens’ Own and Faller Foods, can always be found near the far entrance of the market cooking something and smiling at everyone. In the two weeks that I have been working at Athens’ Own Constantine and his intern Miles have always cooked local beef hamburgers that have been hung to age, giving it the old fashion taste. Their menu is always changing, but so far I have had their eggs, grilled cheese, raisin oatmeal, and vegetable bean soup with rice. Athens’ Own also sells Dawn Chorus Coffee by the bag or ceramic cup, sweet beef bologna/salami, spicy cashews, pancake/waffle mix and spicy peppers in a jar at the Athens Farmers Market. It takes an hour to prepare the food and pack the truck at the Appalachian Economic Community Network, between five to ten minutes to drive to the market, and another forty-five minutes to set up the Athens’ Own Emergency Response Mobile Field Kitchen along with the other items for sale. It is a lot of work to have a business but from what I understand is worth every minute.
Unfortunately, there is one problem that cannot be ignored at the Athens Farmers Market. The landlords of The Market on State have only given the farmers, distributors, and producers a month to month lease. A month to month lease is only acceptable to gypsies and although the vendors have canopies, they should be respected as the foundation of success and sustainability in the town. On April 6th the owners Brent Hayes and Tom Parfitt decided that they do not want politics at the market. Tom Parfitt was quoted by David DeWitt from Athens News saying, “We’re giving them space down there to sell products. We’re happy to do that. They’re welcome to do whatever they do to help farmers out. But we don’t want any political things down there, no matter what it is.” The problem became apparent when the Bill of Rights Committee was going to collect signatures for a petition to ban hydraulic fracturing from the city of Athens to twenty miles up the Hocking River at the market. Bill Hayes is partnered with two Athens County deep-shale wells and hopes to lease hundreds of acres to expand the hydraulic fracturing operations by the gas and oil companies. Therefore the Bill of Rights Committee was banned from the Athens Farmers Market as well as “ANY POLITICAL THINGS” along with them. It is laughable politics is everywhere and is in the statement itself.
What I have always found interesting about this topic is that farmers are given the choice of leasing their land to compensate for the lack of revenues that their hard work and dedication provides. One in every seven jobs in the state of Ohio is created by Agriculture, yet the struggle for food security continues. Rather than our representatives seeing the hardship, they look at the leasing of farm land as a sign of approval! No farmer wants to jeopardize their business, yet all farmers that have hydraulic fracturing or injection wells on their land or near it are risking their livelihood, inheritance, retirement, air, water and food supply. Gas and Oil companies are not regulated under federal environmental law: The Clean Air and Water Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, or The Superfund Act. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is not only tasked with approving gas and oil permits but they are also dependent upon the permits to fund their department. The Environmental Protection Agency is not well funded for the increasing demands. They need to be funded to staff all of their sites and conduct research, which it currently cannot do. Until real oversight is created there will be citizens petitioning, protesting, and writing to the paper. The Farmers Market is the appropriate place to be engaging the community.
The real question is where can the Farmers Market be located other than at the East Side Market? It needs to be a large area, have easy access for cars, trailers, and bicycles, the parking needs to be free, and respectful engagement with the democratic process must be allowed. It is time that the nationally recognized Athens Farmers Market be honored with a location of their own. Until then those working at the market talk and share information so no matter what and no matter where you are, there is business as usual.
The land West of the Appalachian Mountains North of the Ohio River was opened to pioneers and veterans with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Ohio became a state in 1803 and Ohio University located in Athens, Ohio was founded in 1804. Athens has historically been a town that is supported by agriculture, coal mining, millers, lumbermen, brick makers, salt boilers, iron makers and craftsmen and women producing much of its own goods and services. The University has grown to become a large contributor of knowledge, employment, and economic stimulation with the growing student population. It has always been a government of friends and neighbors.
I came here as a student four years ago, in the winter of 2009, with the goal of learning history and the environment. My first year in Athens, I worked with a local attorney and was paid to interact with the municipal and county court house every day. I studied at Ohio University and among the businesses and environmental organizations during my years as a student. I helped to create two U.S. Congressional campaigns and a winning Supreme Court of Ohio campaign as well. During this time I learned that politics represents the Republic while the process and engagement of democracy and the freedom of choice and security is actualized within communities. The goal of all of these campaigns was to elect people without the need of raising money from corporations and organizations. It is essential that the Republic can represent the people and not industries that prioritize profits over health, the environment and future generations. I decided to move back to Athens, Ohio after traveling the state for the 2012 election to integrate further into the community. My goal is to learn more about what sustains this small resilient town and how I may break free from the influences that hurt the progress of my evolution, enlightenment and economic success.
I am a guest that wants to be of service and honor this community. I moved into a rental home four miles outside of town with two lovely ladies that I call my sisters. Both have been raised in industrial towns where coal mining is prevalent, one has always lived in Athens, Ohio. Our rental home also known as a lodge has a private lake that we have named with the joy of laughter The Victorious Vagina Lake due to the V shape. The lake was created by coal mining that was done in the 1950s-60s and the home is located at the center of the two portions. Soil was taken from a farm down the road, which has been cultivated by a family for over a hundred years, to restore the ecology of the area. We are there to appreciate, observe and expand the healing.
We learned of the history of this place as we walked down Pleasant Hill Road meeting our neighbors during the first heat wave of spring. Our neighbors train sheep dogs and horses, cultivate corn and hay, sell beef, sheep, along with compost. We are the stewards of the land that observe the robins, blue jays, blue birds, cardinals, chickadees, crows, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers, vultures, hawks, bats, geese, doves, mockingbirds, an owl, a blue heron, etc. We understand the peepers embody the health of an ecosystem. I have counted 38 fish after a short meditation on a ledge of shale rock and have seen a turtle poking above the water as it swam by. Before the blossoms of spring we can appreciate the oak, maple, ash, buckeye, alder, pine, peach, apple and cherry trees that grace us with their generosity. The bees buzz around pollinating to our delight.
The lodge has two levels and the bottom level is rented by a Saudi-Arabian man that sings the Koran and love songs late into the evening. The home was rented by all of us fully furnished and there is a room locked with extra storage for more things along with a two car garage that holds more stuff that the owners will not use nor give away. There are five bedrooms, three and half bathrooms and six porches. The people that rent this house to us have another home along the eastern coast where they live in their retirement throughout the year. This is a place that symbolizes the consumer nation that we have become during the baby boomers’ generation. We use energy that we has been extracted and transformed without thinking of the chaos, confusion, and waste that is created due to our material desires. Its artful use of space and historic objects is appealing but it is the abundance of beauty found in the forest and lake that is inspiring. It is a place that is meant to be shared with others who wonder about what we truly need to enjoy life while contributing to our communities.
I found this lodge advertised on craigslist.org, a non-profit community organizing webpage. The home is owned by a couple who are psychologists. The man created the Tri-County Mental Health services in 1973 in southeast Ohio. The study of psychology has always interested me. The Athens Lunatic Asylum was created and opened its doors on January 1, 1874. It was the first institution for the mentally ill in the state of Ohio. This was before the science of psychology was introduced by Sigmund Freud and was expanded by Carl Jung in the twentieth century. The Asylum would eventually be called The Ridges due to the location in the Appalachian foothills in Athens. The institution had its own water source, gardens to feed the staff and patients, health care, funding and cemetery. I have always enjoyed the aspect of Athens that supports mental health and holistic healing.
I was attracted to working with Athens’ Own because of the holistic management that is taught by Constantine. Constantine, owner and manager of Athens’ Own, reminds me of the vulture. He lives at the Broadwell Hill Learning Center, www.broadwellhill.org, which is a home that has actualized symbiosis between nature and humans. He is the balance to the consumer lifestyles that have been taught by the baby boomer generation. The vultures that soar above Athens, glide on heat waves in the atmosphere and do not expend more energy than is necessary to fly. They clean the earth of disease by only taking what is offered. They are aligned with the cycles of the seasons and recycling nature of life and death. We humans help expand the population of vultures thus they can always be seen along the roadways. After meeting Constantine I could look at this home that I was living in with a different perspective. This home was built with passive solar, it has the ability to be sustainable due to having its own water source and land for gardening which is now being used as a field. It has a wood burning stove in the forest and only a forty gallon water heater for the house. Constantine teaches people to be reflecting on all aspects of their lives so that they may see the solutions rather than concentrating on the deficiency.
My parents are from the baby boomer generation and it is this generation that I continue to learn how to organize, prioritize, and engage with the progress of evolution and enlightenment. It was this generation that help to expand the civil rights movement, environmental movement, anti-war movement and the women’s movement. At age thirty-one I am aware that I have maybe twenty years left to work, learn, and understand the legacy of this generation in person. Constantine reminds me of the responsibility he feels towards his parents’ generation that left him with an opportunity to serve others and create this business. They taught him to have a work ethic, to sacrifice for the greater good, be a steward of the land, and fix that which is broken. He reminds me of the humility that is learned though pragmatic resourcefulness.
He continues to live his ideals as he becomes an elder. His eyes question my dedication as he speaks his truth, telling me that I must learn the systems that he has been practicing into wisdom for twelve years at Athens’ Own. In order to understand how something works you must know where it comes from, how it is prepared, distributed, fixed when broken, and recycled back to the earth. I stand before him as a confident women determined to understand him and help him, although I know that the arrogant, self-indulgent, negligent aspect of youth is the stereotype that I must prove to be foreign to my professional nature. I reassure him that I am here to listen, to learn how an ethical business succeeds week to week, and readjust my perception so that my humility will balance the success that I have earned and received. My goal is to take the hippy free flowing ideals and translate them into an outline that can be followed, recommended by institutions, and copied as a model.
He wants all of our dialogues to be transparent and online, not just tonight, tomorrow or next week, no he wants them to be online in the moment that the magic is happening so that others can be included in the discussion. I can understand why logs are important, they keep the history of the people that have been involved with Athens’ Own. Their experiences are not lost and they stay connected well after their internship is over. Their experiences represent them and help the business adapt and improve. Constantine is enthusiastic about the Communication Era. He sees democracy happening through an online forum so that dominating groups do not have the power by default. He is not afraid of failures and mistakes rather he believes that they are challenges that inspire work and solutions that lead to efficiency. He has no problem with critiques of the business for he believes that everything that he and his team does at Athens’ Own is owned by the community and that community should know what they are doing.
As we leave for the day I am reminded to be mindful of my words. I have so much to learn. I feel that I have only practiced and studied sustainability. Constantine is teaching it and living it everyday. I am not here to pat myself on the back while living in the progressive town of Athens. I am here to learn how to grow and greet challenges with an open mind like that which is inspired with the rising sun. Granted, when I am up that early I sometimes question with enthusiasm, challenging what I see before me or what I hear, but I know to trust that all will be explained and understood in good time.
Alyse and Miles, the intern of two years, greeted me near the storage unit of Athens’ Own at ACEnet. The previous day they had been working together to package the Hot Spiced Cashews and stamp the recycled and compostable packaging of Dawn Chorus Coffee. On this day Miles was packaging olives for Seaman’s Grocery Store in 25% post-consumer recycled plastic containers on the stainless steel table in the community kitchen. We were next to the coffee pot that Athens’ Own provides and keeps supplied with Dawn Chorus Coffee for the community of businesses working in the space. Constantine arrived and it was clear that he was the manager and mastermind of the operation. He was given updates on the progress of the day and immediately started helping Miles with his task as Alyse set up my log and I spoke with him about my enthusiasm for the day.
Alyse then proceeded to give me a tour of the facility, their storage, and the products. We then all met at the community office meeting space for a meeting of the minds. The team at Athens’ Own was preparing for an extremely busy week. It was Mom’s Weekend at Ohio University and there were three farmers markets that Athens’ Own would have a venue. I asked about the dress code, thinking that to sell a product the team should be wearing their logo or be dressed nicely to attract complimentary attention. Constantine informed me that they were still working on the dress code, that wearing belts so that when lifting and bending at the booth nothing was revealed that could be offensive or distracting. Alyse told me that they usually wear t-shirts that advertise their partnership businesses in town such as Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery.
Alyse then described all the products that we would be selling. The Athens Farmers Market does not allow anyone to sell a product that they did not create or raise. This means that the Wisconsin Aged Cheese and the Aged Beef could not be sold at the Athens Farmers Market. However the Ohio University Farmers Market was more relaxed in their standards therefore Athens’ Own would be allowed to sell all of their products. The Ohio University Farmers Market is not a weekly market but a monthly market at the corner of Union and College Street across the street from the College Green. I wrote down the prices for the products so that I could have a better understanding for my first day at the market. Alyse told me that the prices do change with the businesses in town that sell their products due to their personal arrangements. While I was learning about the products at our meeting Constantine was teaching Miles the accounting from the last Athens Farmers Market. Constantine was teaching by observing, questioning the logic behind the method, answering questions and demonstrating the correct procedures.
We watched a movie that is available online at athensown.biz called “One Square Foot” which was created by Kaitlyn Bernauer. Part of the documentary is filmed at Broadwell Hill Learning Center and Sustainable Tree Farm. I was then given a book on loan that is required reading for the Worker Readiness Certification titled, At Home with Holistic Management: Creating a Life of Meaning, by Ann Adams. The meeting lasted an hour and a half whereby we separated in groups of two to distribute the products in town to various local businesses. We also picked up food scraps for the Food Scraps and Organics Recovery Initiative while completing other errands.
We met back up at ACEnet and continued preparing Athens’ Own products. Miles and Alyse filled the cart with the necessary tools for cutting cheese while Constantine and I got the Aged Wisconsin Cheese from the cooler and brought it to the community kitchen. We all had our hair tied back and some kind of hat or bandana on our heads while Constantine also had on gloves. Constantine wore plastic gloves while he sharpened the knife and cut the cheese. He spoke of his precautions and techniques while cutting the cheese. He explained that he is creating a team that is dedicated to this community, Resiliency Warriors. I told him that my goal is to work for the SEERs, those that see the need for a Sustainable Energy and Ecological Revolution. Historically there has been the Agriculture Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Green Revolution which created fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified foods. Therefore we need a Sustainable Energy and Ecological Revolution to deal with the overwhelming problems created by pollution and global warming. He was pleased with this and looked up with his eyebrows raised and said that the SEERs would not say they were SEERs. He related the SEERs to teachers because it is up to the student to acknowledge someone as a teacher. He believes that the leaders on the cutting edge of the sustainable movement must live the ideal. People may not understand everything that he is doing, such as not serving disposable cups so that people may taste Dawn Chorus Coffee because it is the cutting edge. He brings ceramic cups and sells containers because he does not want to generate waste and people should have containers on them where ever they go so that we can illuminate the plastic and paper waste that is needlessly accumulating in our landfills.
I then learned how the scale worked, the pricing per pound and we were given the challenge of naming the cheese that had been aged for six months. Constantine and Miles worked together flawlessly throughout our conversations on Holistic Management. Holistic Management starts with a vision then that vision is worked into action and those actions are networked to accomplish the goal. Constantine put a triangle slice of cheese on the scale; Miles filled in the label with the weight and price as Constantine wrapped the cheese and then added the label. Miles is going to be taking his senior graduation test soon and has been an intern for two years with periodical breaks. He is home schooled as many people are in Athens, Ohio. Constantine explained that his internship program is being created to prepare people to work with a holistic approach. He enjoys working with Miles because he is a youth in Athens, Ohio so the program immediately benefits the community. It was beginning to become obvious that having an internship with Athens’ Own is a great opportunity for people to learn: responsibility, punctuality, accounting, packaging, distribution, sales and being impeccable with their word. It also allows them to learn from many of the local businesses in town and meet the community that supplies the stable economy in Athens, Ohio. The opportunity is also ideal for college students that want to enhance their understanding of sustainability, business, marketing, and communication. Constantine told us that he would like to have Alyse and I clarify the procedures for obtaining the Workers Readiness Certification Program for he is still not satisfied with the clarity of the program. We then finished the day by preparing the supplies for the Farmers Market that Alyse, Miles and I would be attending the next day.