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.
Here’s what is going on in the world around us, as we see it. I bet you think the world is pretty darn good for what it is. Maybe a war somewhere overseas. Maybe a disease somewhere, a disease that we here in the “developed world” have beaten. You might have even heard about the fact that we WILL run out of energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas at some point. You may think “well, that war is over there, not here. That disease is over there, not here. We’re going to run out of resources years from now, not now. Well, yes. That is true. Those are some of the big ones that will be in the news. What about poverty, food/water availability, human rights, climate change/pollution, corrupt officials in government office, greed, lack of good education available to everyone, lack of living wage jobs and lack of trust in the government. A lot of those are intertwined with each other as well, and they are also just as much in America as they are overseas. That’s not even nearly all the things that are wrong right now anyway. I bet you can probably think of a bunch more.
What about the “worse case scenario” for any of those, let alone a combination of them. A war here in the US. Maybe a global, all-out nuclear war. Maybe a disease pandemic on the scale of “black death plague”, again here in the US. As for all of them, everybody in poverty, no food or water is available, no rights, irreversible climate change + pollution, all officials corrupt, more greed, no education available and no jobs. Yes, those are each the worst case scenario, and probably won’t happen any time soon. But what if they did? Take last year, with the big storm that took out power for so many people all over Ohio. My own power was out for 9 days and that was a challenge. Because of that, water availability, power availability, fuel (for cars) availability were all greatly reduced. What would happen to you, your family, friends, your school, etc, if that were to happen again, say, for a month. It is certainly possible. Would you stay in good health? Where would you get food? Walmart doesn’t have any. How could they? The trucks bringing the food can’t drive, because there’s no gas for them.
Now, do want to do anything about that. You might now say “I can’t do anything about that”. Well, yes you can. We, as a society, are only as strong in a disaster as we are going into it. If everybody is sickish now, how do you think we’d do if a pandemic were to come our way? That’s what resilience is basically about, being able to make it through any given situation, no matter how big or bad. No, you can’t make everybody healthy, or no, you can’t stock up enough food for everybody around. But you can support a local farmer by buying his food. When you buy from Walmart, the money leaves town. The only good thing it does here is gives somebody a job. Now if you give money to a local farmer, ie buy from him, he is going to use that to grow his farm. Buy more cattle, buy more seeds, hire local help (you) and things like that. If that farm is strong now, in a disaster, he will have food. He does not need to drive hundreds or even thousands of miles to bring the food. He’s right there. You make him stronger, you make you stronger.
That’s only one thing. You can do stuff so little as to recycle a little. Maybe you don’t want to spend money on a recycling service. So, why don’t you collect your metal cans and sell them as scrap. You keep that metal out of a landfill, therefore reducing the amount of metal needed, thereby reducing the amount of greenhouse gases creating by mining for and producing more metal. Along with those pluses, you get some cash. You help the planet and you help you.
Again, that’s only one more thing you can do. You can compost. You can refill a water bottle instead of throwing it out and getting a new one. You can even simply tell others about all of this. There are so many little things you can do without even trying that help build resilience in our community. Some of those you might already do and you may not know how much of a good (or bad) effect they have. Just do a little research and find out what you are doing by what you are doing. That’s all resilience building is, basically. So why not?
That’s what Athens’ Own does. You might call us an engineering firm building solutions for communities. Not just only for communities, for individuals as well. Solutions for a better, stronger more resilient community or person for the future (and for the present). That’s a simple and effective answer to what we as Athens’ Own do.
Today, Constantine asked me to convince him why he should help me work on resilience. Actually, help me help my whole family become more resilient. Right away by the way I was speaking, and the way I did what I did, he thought that I maybe didn’t want his help in that area (or maybe any area for that matter). I said no, and that I thought that resilience building was needed, especially at home. He responded that he thought I was probably just saying these things to satisfy him. He could be quite right, but if so, it was not conscious on my part. All of this led to “do I even want to work on, let alone do anything with resilience building?” I do believe I do. It is quite important to be prepared for any situation that could happen, no matter how unlikely, like actual zombies. With our (the world’s) current situation, we’d all be completely screwed if the zombies were to come, let alone a simple international deadly virus pandemic (which will come at some point). I would like for not only me, but for my whole family to be ready for that, or whatever might come at us (all out nuclear war + EMP, that virus, super super storms, etc). Right up to the point of writing this log, I could not think of, let alone say, anything that seemed the least bit convincing to Constantine (or me). I think maybe why, is that no matter how much I think I know, how much I think I understand, or even how much I want to, I don’t really, really understand it, at all. Therefore, since I don’t really understand it, I don’t want any part of it. That is maybe what’s going on, although I don’t really think so. That may be why I could not (and still cannot) think of anything to convince him to want to help me. Constantine also said that it seemed like to him, that I was taking a mole hill or two, and turning the them into mountains. Not just regular mountains, but mountains of ever increasing size, therefore just complicating the heck out of something so simple as this is. All of this both came from and led to…
This coming Friday, Bill Elasky with 35ish 8th graders from Fed-Hock will be meeting with us, (or rather him, which is my eventual point) for an insight to the business practices of Athens’ Own. Constantine wants to know what I would say to all those kids that would convince them (or more importantly, make them want) to want to work for resilience. In doing that, what could I say to them that would help me, and then help my family with or resilience building. Tuesday being my last day, Friday is obviously beyond that, therefore, it is not a given that I would be there. So, he asked me if I would even want to come in Friday just for that, just to talk to those students.
Right away, I hesitated answering. I think maybe, regardless of what I want or say on the outside, inside I don’t want to. Outside, I do really want to learn, help, be helped, teach and tell about everything about resilience and resilience building. But inside, I think I don’t. It may be because I’m leaving AO, and so I think I don’t really need to, or if I do continue to learn more, I know I won’t fully understand it and so it would just be a waste of my time, or something like that. Each of those are my gut, not fully me. Like with me leaving AO, I don’t really want to, it’s just that I feel it needs to happen (it would happen eventually anyway), and that I need to move on. This could be the same sort of situation. I might not actually want to have anything to do with it, despite me wanting to do a lot with it. I do need to think about his request, what I would talk about, what it really means to me and so on, before I give a real answer to him. I do really want to continue with all of this, just like me wanting to continue my relationship with AO, but I believe that I would not fully enjoy it or understand it, therefore I would not gain nearly as much from it as I could, had I fully and completely wanted it. So, I need to think a lot more about all of this, and come up with an answer for Constantine.
This post is to inform potential future interns as to what Athens’ Own is like, and what they are getting into.
First, I want to say to you, potential intern, good choice in even looking at Athens’ Own! I know that if I were again looking for an internship or a job, (on the surface) little Athens’ Own, with no “big” presence would not be my first choice. But, AO is a lot more than that, and I will get to why. As for pros and cons of AO, there are many. I think I’ll start with cons:
The first of the cons is time. A lot of time will be asked of you, maybe even 6 days a week, if you are available that much. If you include some homework in your personal home time, 7 days a week. That can be hard and tiring, I know. Next, not so much a con, but is somewhat difficult, your best is ALWAYS needed. Unlike other places where your best may not be needed, or even wanted, AO needs you to always try to do your best, whatever that might be. My next point is when you don’t do you best, the “boss-man” Constantine will probably notice, then he will probably say something. He can be quite demanding at times, but only because he wants you to “grow”, and for you to do that by doing your best. Yes, those are really only two cons, but they are big ones, difficult ones to get over/through.
As for the pros, well there are more of them than the cons. The first is learning. You can learn (if you want to) so much with AO, so much more than school. Yes, MAYBE half the stuff you learn here you already learned in school, but here you can really apply it. You can hone the skills you learned before and understand them better, because you are applying them to/in the real world and not in a class room. There is also the variety. Each week, there will be different things to do. Monday might be accounts. Tuesday is production packaging and deliveries. Wednesday could be web work. Saturday is usually the farmer’s market. Every day varies. True, you could maybe call that a con, but I like that variety. You are constantly learning and doing different things. There is no real constant every day, same thing schedule. Along with that, if you have, say, a school schedule Constantine is very, very willing to work around and with whatever time you have, or that you want to commit. That can be a real plus.
As to why AO is a lot more than just a small business, I can try to elaborate on that. AO is involved with so many things that I can’t really go into much detail about any of it, but one part is that AO works to build community. AO and Constantine do that by collaborating with other local businesses like Jackie O’s, Seaman’s, and Bagel Street Deli, just to name a few, in so many ways. That part is so big, I can’t really go any bigger in this small log, just read more on the rest of the AO site to learn more, or join and become an intern to get the full, completeness of it all. Another thing AO does is just plain education. AO and Constantine teaches stuff that you don’t learn in school. The main reason behind the education part is that Constantine believes the current education system is lacking by not training/teaching students things they really need to know once they leave that school (high school or college). Constantine address that by taking that stuff and applying it in the real world, something you don’t/won’t get in the class room. (If you think he is wrong in that belief, I DO think you should intern and see if you/he is right/wrong)
You might say “well, you aren’t still with AO, so why aren’t you? Why should I start with AO?” Good observation and good point. I first worked with AO a couple of years ago for a few years, mainly just at the farmer’s market. Recently, maybe about 8-9-10 months ago, Constantine asked if I would like to return to AO and I said yes, I would. So I did. Now after those (great) 9ish months, I just felt it was time to move on. It was not that I hated Constantine for some reason, or that I got sick of the work, nothing like that. I just felt I needed to move on. If I were given the opportunity to trade all that time for something else, I wouldn’t. Ever. I am quite glad I had all that time with AO. I learned a lot, made a lot of new friends, among lots of other things.
Finally and overall, interning/working with Athens’ Own can be quite demanding and somewhat stressful, but it is well worth it. I believe even if you just come a month or two, you should by all means, DO IT. You certainly might decide AO is not for you, and you will leave. Multiple people have already done that, but to my knowledge, none of them dislike AO, or wish they hadn’t done it. I will see them around town now and then and they are just a pleasant now as they were then, with no obvious dislike of me or AO. So, it will be tough, but it is very much worth it, and so I do encourage you to join AO. It is worth it.
First, I want to thank Constantine, Kathy and even Alyse for the time I spent with all of you. You did try your best (I think) even if I didn’t on my end. I do feel like I have greatly advanced and increased my skills via my time with AO, and through all of your help and encouragement. I may not have shown my appreciation nearly as much as I feel I owe, and that is wrong of me. I do value my time with you and with AO and would not ever trade my past time with you and AO for the same amount of time at a regular job. I just want you each to know that first, before I go on.
I think first that there is no one reason why I feel it is time to go. Not completely attributable to the money, the required work, the training, or even any of you, through what you say or whatever you did. I believe it is a great combination of all of those, plus lots of other things. A second reason is just that I believe I need to move on. I have spent 6-8-10 great months with AO this time around and I have learned a lot of things, and increased some skills that I already had, like just general speaking, a little math or the speech. After all that time and learning, friendship making, and so on, I just feel it is time to move on to the next thing in my life. The last and maybe main reason is that I am just getting tired. After these 8ish months, I am just losing the mental and somewhat physical stamina to continue doing all that I am doing, even in the days or weeks that not much is required of me. I also believe it’s a tired that could not and cannot be fixed by a week-two weeks or a month or two off. I just need to stop.
I want to say that I know I did say that I was going to create a plan for this, including options to stay, to leave, maybe a combination of those, and maybe even some other options. I really thought about these things this past week, and like I said, came to this conclusion. The reason for doing it this way is because, regrettably, I feel like this is the way it would have turned out anyway. After thinking about these things, I do not now see making up that plan, and deciding via holistic management or pros vs cons (or something else), a different outcome, other than this one. So, I partially think this will just save a lot of time, mine and yours.
I also want to say, I do want to stay in touch with all of you, and of course AO. I am very willing (if my future schedule allows) to work the Athens’ farmers market, package stuff Tuesday, or maybe even go up to the Hills market in Columbus, if Constantine is overloaded with other necessary work. If there is a new intern that needs some training, I will be willing (again, schedule allowing) to come in for a day to help. I do not want at all to turn by back on AO, or anything like that. My experience with AO is way to good for that. I certainly may even in the future decide that I should return, if possible, to AO.
Again, I thank each of you for everything that you have done with/for me, your patience with me and so on. I want these next two weeks to go as smoothly as possible, without any problems. I want to leave with no personal problems between any of us, and on the best of terms possible.
Thank you for these great fun and learning filled months!
The main thing Tuesday besides the usual coffee, cashews Seaman’s and the like, was that Constantine asked me to think about a question. This question:
” Let’s say we are in a plane flying one way, one way in that it WILL run out of fuel and that we WILL have to parachute out. No landings. I am the one responsible for getting us the parachutes. When he asks “did I get the parachutes”, he wants a “yes” or a “no”, he does not want a “maybe” or even a “I’m 90% sure I did”. I need to be sure, “not pretty sure”.
The question was do I want that. Do I want to be the one responsible for getting those parachutes. Do I want that job, and if I do, can I do it effectively, ie, that firm “yes” or “no.” Maybes are unacceptable.
The next day (23rd), I showed up a little late (again) to Broadwell and that toggled Constantine into saying this about the previous day’s question, “if I choose to be that person, I can’t show up late, with or without parachutes. I can’t let down the rest of the team (who ever is on that plane).” If I say I’m going to get them parachutes before takeoff, I’d better get them parachutes before takeoff.
The rest of the day was filled with talk, again talk about my arrival times, talk about why I am constantly having to ask so many questions, talk about this log. About the questions, why do I keep having to ask? I asked about the same thing yesterday so why am I asking again today? First, I do not think about the problem enough, like, “have I done it before?” If I did do it do it before, what did I do? Did I take notes before of either what I did, or on how I was told to do the task. Something I just thought of is “am I not motivated enough by the task itself to take notes, or not motivated by the thought of the task changing from training to paid work time, or maybe something else along those lines.” On to the log, I was tasked with that question before I left Tuesday and I started it that night. Why didn’t I finish it the same night I was tasked with it? Was I not motivated to even start, let alone finish? Or did I not have enough time? Well, that’s a little difficult. I did probably have enough time. As for the motivation, I don’t know. They were other things that I would have much rather been doing, and yet, I still decided to at least start on my log. (The other things I never got to either, because of the log) Kind of unrelated, there are many things in my life that I really enjoy doing, and yet, I can’t always motivate myself to do those things that I really enjoy. I don’t know why. With the log, I enjoyed writing it less than than I would the other things that I wanted to do, and yet I was more motivated to do it. Again, I’m not completely sure why. I do know that I should be motivated to write them. These are for the community to see what I am doing with Athens’ Own, and therefore what we are doing with their money. That is an important thing to write about, and it needs done.
We also started to come up with a plan for me to fix these things. First part of the plan was to come up with a plan. A plan consisting of both short term and long term parts. The short term part is intended to address the time, focus, trouble shooting and the log problems: For time, I came up with that I will go to bed earlier, therefore hopefully get up earlier and then leave earlier. For focus, I will try to listen with the intent of remembering whatever is said. Kathy said today some thing about “listening to reply” versus “listening to understand.” I believe she (basically) meant that listening to reply is to just listen with the intent of looking good and being able to maybe ask a question about what was said. I would then probably forget some of/most of what was said. Listening to understand is more really understanding everything said. I should remember most if not all of what was said, and if I do ask questions, they are good questions that will help my understanding, not just to look as if I’m listening. Trouble shooting, I will think about the problem, as I said, “have I done it before, did I make notes?” I will look for and then if found, read notes and try to solve the problem without having to ask. If I must ask, I will have paper and a pencil or pen ready to write whatever is said. Lastly, the log. First, I will try to find motivation if there is none at that moment. As for time for the log, I will make time, even if that means trading my time in order to write that log.
The long term plans address a few different problems, but some are similar. It started with this question: ” what do I want/ need to do.” The answer is I need to get a “job”, the definition of which (for this situation) is “to earn a reasonable wage”. The next step is “what is my strategy”. The answer to that is that I/we will come up with a plan consisting of at least 1, but more like 2-3-4 options to take through a decision making process like holistic management. The last part is data collection. I will go around town and get info about jobs like the USAF, Walmart, Lowes, but more importantly, local opportunities first like Seaman’s.
I also created a short presentation to both Kathy and Constantine about this plan. That all happened today at ACEnet. That went well, although I could have certainly done a bit better. Tomorrow, I will be working more on this plan at Broadwell. Logs WILL follow.
This log is more updates since my last log on 10-3. Besides things like more solo Seaman’s deliveries, another solo Athens’ farmers market, I did another OU mini farmers market, this time with four types of cheese: the regular 6 month plus 9 month, 2 year and 4 year. It was a bit slower than even the last mini market but I think it was worthwhile even as just advertising, especially for the cheese, seeing as how we can’t sell it at the regular Athens’ farmers market, so any chance to sell it is a good one. The next day (Saturday 12th) I went up to Columbus, solo, for the Athens Fest at the Hills Market, Downtown. We were invited to come up and sample out the bologna of ours that they have for sale up there. Besides the sausage and the other stuff I needed, I also took up some of the cheese, a bit of each, again 6 mo, 9mo, 2 yr and 4 yr for Amanda to try and see if that wanted to start carrying it. Besides all those things, we collaborated with Crumbs a bit in that I would take up their shipment of crackers instead of them UPSing it up there. I also sampled out the crackers on our table with our sausage and the cheese. As for the event itself, it went well, I think. It was not as wildly attended as we or Amanda had hoped, but it still went well. All the people enjoyed the sausage, cheese and crackers. Many people took business cards or the online store cards, saying they would check it out. A couple of the sausages we had out were also bought, so that’s a plus too.
This Saturday (tomorrow) we are also doing something a little different. A friend of Constantines, Gonzo, who used to cook at the Wild Horse Cafe in Pomeroy Ohio. He is working with us, making a new demi-glace with our beef. Tomorrow at the farmer’s market, he will be using that glace in a made-fresh-at-market beef stroganoff, which we will then be selling. In order to make it, he will be going thru the market looking for the other ingredients that he needs, like the noodles. It should be fun.
This log is an update about everything (that I remember) since my last log.
Firstly, I believe that since my last log is when Alyse decided that her time at Athens’ Own was up, and it was time to leave. She has gone on to other things, and now it is just Constantine and myself, until new interns sign up. It has been a slight challenge at times, without her help, but it’s a good challenge. Without her, it’s pretty much just up to me to keep the website actually running and everything. She also made all/most of the weekly orders and that’s now up to us to do.
We have also recently stopped going to the Wednesday farmer’s market, for different reasons. One reason being of course it being the Wednesday market and later in the year, it got quite slow and just not worth doing. Another reason is that we can now use that time better for other things like planing a better, bigger, more efficient kitchen, which leads me to my next point. We have also more recently stopped cooking at the Saturday market until we get a kitchen plan together. I have been doing (twice so far) the Saturday market myself with just the coffee, cashews and sausage while Constantine stays back home and works on more important things. Before that first solo market, I also did the OU mini market. Since it wasn’t the other market, we could and did take the aged cheese to sell. That was fun, selling the cheese, since we haven’t sold any cheese at a market in a while.
Another important thing that has happened/is happening is that we are moving (slowly, but nonetheless moving) toward my working here at Athens’ Own being official paid work. I think there are multiple different reasons for this change in my work: Alyse is gone, thereby giving me a lot more responsibility than before. I have graduated from high school so the learning involved is not as important to my education as it was before. I am 19 so it is time/important that I get a job. Lastly, I think that it is also continuing my holistic goal to have financial stability, even if that stability is mostly saved for the future and not really for the present.
One other thing that has happened is that I have made some solo deliveries to Seaman’s, one regular scheduled Tuesday delivery with coffee and cheese and another delivery (yesterday) with meat, lots of meat. Besides being a solo, I believe it was also my first time on a meat delivery at all, and by that I mean a meat delivery that I was involved with.
Other things happened: a tour of kids from Fed. Hock. high school at Broadwell, other things I don’t remember and Athens’ Fest up at Hills’ Market in Columbus on Saturday, Oct. 12, and they have invited us to come up and sample out our sausage, like we did before. I will be going up to do that (solo) and that should be fun.
Today at Broadwell, I washed some more buckets and lids. Before I did that, Kathy had some other new thoughts, or thoughts that I may not have gotten last time. Her first point was that the compost was like cooking: The scraps and the worms are all ingredients. The heat that the microbes and stuff create is what cooks the food. The end result is great, healthy soil. The trade off is, just like regular cooking, in order to get something really great, there will be dishes. In this case, the dishes are of course the buckets. I do enjoy cooking, so I think I even more fully understand what Kathy means.
She also said that it is simply skills for the future. If something were to happen later on with, say, waste disposal, what would happen? Not many people would really know how to deal with it. Right now, I am gradually learning how to do just that, deal with the waste safely. That includes cleaning the waste buckets.
While I was at Broadwell for a work day, I was given the job of washing a bunch of the compost and food buckets. While I was doing that, Constantine tasked me with thinking about a question to ask Kathy once I was done with that job. The question I was to ask was “You seem to enjoy and have fun making soil and the verma-compost and everything about that. Why?” (That wasn’t exactly the right question and I will address that later.) I found that washing the buckets was “work” and yet it seemed to me that Kathy enjoys her work with that all stuff. So I finished washing those buckets and went in to ask her. I asked and as I had somewhat anticipated, it blew up from a possible simple 5 minute answer to a nice hour and a half conversation mostly about that topic question, starting with her just thinking about it for a minute. Her first main point was that she did not in fact have fun, as I had put it, washing buckets. She went on to say that she did all that (partially) because she hates what we do: People in general don’t know what happens to their waste (of any kind), they just flush it, chuck it or what ever and that sucks. It is of course quite a bit easier to just throw that rotten apple away instead of composting it. The problem is that that apple will go into a landfill and rot with all the other organic materials in that landfill, creating tons of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Besides that methane problem, it’s simply a waste: to throw away that food instead of turning it into something useful, like compost full of natural nutrients.
Another problem is that we aren’t responsible at all with our resources. We would rather use resource consumptive things like chemical fertilizers instead of good natural compost. Doing what she does is important to our future. She use very little resources to turn the food scraps into usable compost. So Kathy decided, on one part, to provide a community service of composting.
Kathy also said she partially does it because it means she isn’t contributing to the current problem. Besides doing it for herself, she does it for others by taking their organic materials and composts that for them. With her doing that, for herself and others, Kathy helps other to see and understand what and why she’s doing what’s she’s doing. If they learn something from her, and if they do what they learn, that helps them contribute less to the problem as well.
Lastly, she said that overall, she enjoys the ends results for her and the planet, but not so much the work getting there. She enjoys knowing that she is not contributing to the problem, and possibly, making it better. She also enjoys the continual learning that come with her job. Learning about what’s actually happening in the compost and why, what happens to the plants that use it versus chemical fertilizers. But also not just about the compost or whatever, but also the larger impact of the whole project. She enjoys telling people what she has learned and finding and meeting people that understand, both the problem that he is trying to help and what she’s trying to do.
In doing the service that she does, she enjoys the fact that people like what she’s doing for them and for the planet. Besides that, it’s an important thing to do, no matter how small the actual impact will be. So as Kathy said to me, “what’s fun got to do with it?” It’s important and it needs done.