Aug 182013

This post is not really about anything I did today but rather my life goals, including those that may be achieved or at least helped along by my time here at Athens’ Own.
I don’t really know what my life goals actually are yet but I do know what I want now for my life.
I think that working here at Athens’ Own is and will keep helping with those things stated in my HG.

Quality of life:
I want good health, both mental and physical. This job is constantly testing my mental and physical health in everything I/we do, therefore making me better at those things.

I want financial stability and to be debt free. Working here at Athens’ Own has and is providing me with more money per week than I had made before working here so I am well on my way to having that financial stability that I want.

I also want meaningful friendships. Working with AO has given me so many opportunities to meet new people and become better friends with the people I already knew.

Forms of production:
I want to pr0duce profit from meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile work. I am constantly producing profit, both monetarily and mentally from my work with AO. This work does mean a lot to me for various reasons, the first being it’s fun. It’s fun to work at the farmer’s market and to do a bunch of the other things that AO does. That fun is mental profit for me. The work is of course worthwhile simply because of what it is that Athens’ Own does. We are constantly working toward community resilience and sustainability, which I think is very worthwhile. It’s also worthwhile just to see people enjoying the food at the farmer’s market, whether it’s something that I cooked up or something else, like the coffee or the bologna.

I want to participate in activities that are fulfilling and inspire growth and development. Working at AO is fulfilling and certainly inspires growth and development. I am constantly learning new things, things about food, about the business of running a small business among many other things of course. I also think that after writing all these logs, my writing skills have improved over what they were before.

Future resource base:
I want the land to be healthy and sustainable. I am always learning how to live sustainably and resiliently through working here at AO.

I want to be known for high quality products and services. People constantly return to Athens’ Own at the farmer’s market and such because they know they can get a good quality product and a friendly smile when they come.

I want to live in a community where people take care of each other and make decisions with future generations in mind. That’s what AO does.

That’s what I’m doing with AO in relation to my holistic goal, but that’s not all I’m doing. I’m not exactly sure what my goals are from working with AO except that I want to learn. I could probably easily get a job at Walmart or Kroger and those jobs are probably quite easy but those jobs don’t involve any learning, it’s just “Hello, find everything ok?, your total is $__.__, paper or plastic?, have a nice day.” I don’t want that. Right now, I want a job where I can learn things. I want to learn things, even if they don’t really apply to my long term job goals (which I don’t really know yet) because learning is learning, good experience is good experience, and so on. Even if I don’t yet know what I want to do the rest of my life, I don’t think that means I shouldn’t learn whatever I can now. My only known goal now is I suppose, learn as much now in order to become the best I can at whatever I do later. That goal is being greatly helped by working with Athens’ Own.

Aug 182013

Quality of life:

1. I want good health, both mental and physical.
2. I want financial stability and to be debt free.
3. I want meaningful and enjoyable friendships and relationships with friends, family and co-workers alike.

Forms of production:

1. I want to produce profit from meaningful, fulfilling, and worthwhile work.
2. I want to participate in activities that are fulfilling and inspire growth and development.

Future resource base:

Land- I want the land to be healthy and sustainable.
Community- I want to be known for high quality products and services.
People- I want to live in a community where people take care of each other and make decisions with future generations in mind.

Aug 142013

It has been almost two weeks since my announcement of my intention to move on from my position here at Athens’ Own. In that time, I have been working very hard to complete many outstanding projects. I am currently feeling very satisfied with the progress I am making, and I also see many more tasks set ahead for the next two weeks. I am enjoying the feeling of crossing old projects off of my to-do list, and feeling a sense of completion and optimism that these things I have created will be extremely helpful to the person who picks up the hat after me. I know that I would have been very grateful to have this help when I first started!


A few updates on my progress:

Website info packet/tutorial nearly completed. I underestimated the time it would take me to get it all together and in an easily readable way. It is a lot of information, even including all the write-ups I have been doing along the way.
Finished (1st drafts) AFM handbook and Seaman’s handbook/ tutorial. The folder with Seaman’s info will be added to with more tutorials/info on other places we deliver to. It can be the “delivery driver” info binder.
Miles education: I have been checking in on him and supervising some activities over the last two weeks to make sure he (and I) feel confident that he can do those tasks solo. He is progressing very well, and he made his first solo delivery to Seaman’s yesterday, which went well for the most part. I believe he learned from his mistakes and will be better prepared for the next time.

The website is running much smoother, and some long outstanding issues have been solved, which will make the task of updating and maintaining the site much easier for the next person, although I plan to remain available for help and tech support in the future.


As I complete this week, I am turning my attention to the Athens’ Own team and the community, to ask what you think my last two weeks’ time should be spent on? I want to use my time and Constantine’s investment in me to help others as much as possible, and to try in some way to pay him and everyone involved “forward” for the opportunities I have been given. Please feel free to comment on this post with your thoughts, comments, or ideas.

Aug 132013

Since I haven’t written and posted any logs recently,  I am writing an update/summary of what has happened since my last log.
I of course don’t remember everything that’s happened but the high-point is the fact that I can package most everything by myself without a hitch. While Alyse and/or Constantine are off doing something else, I can continue and package the coffee, cashews, olives and probably even the cheese. As for today (the 13th) I made my first solo delivery to Seaman’s. Granted I didn’t take all that I could have, just coffee and cashews, but I still did it alone without any major problems. The one small problem was that I didn’t get the calculator from Alyse before leaving so I wasn’t able to double check all my math on the invoice. The inventorying and stock went smoothly though: I went in and inventoried everything, putting their quantities down on the inventory sheet as I went. I then went back out to the car and got out all the products that should be put in the store to bring them up to their usual numbers while also putting them on the invoice. I then went in, counted everything for the guy at the door and then finally put everything on its shelf where it belongs. The only problem in the end was that I had added the total wrong, but it was caught by the man I gave the invoice to in order to get a check.
I think that this can sort of go with my last post about the changing of gears in that since I started at Athens’ Own again and what I was capable of then, I believe I have certainly shifted some gears in my abilities and my speed in existing abilities.

Aug 122013

On Monday, August 12th, Constantine and Alyse met with several teachers from Federal Hocking Middle School to further discuss working to develop educational partnerships between Fed Hock, OU, and Athens’ Own. The following is the abbreviated transcript and notes from that meeting, as taken by Alyse.



Third Education meeting: August 12, 2013



Bill Elasky

Constantine Faller

Alyse Carter

Bill Clark

Cliff Bonner

Sarah Russell


BE: CF and AC have been trying to get working with me for about a year now. He’s interested as a business in the area in developing some kind of partnership with fed hock. We had a meeting a few weeks ago to explore possibilities, to see if we could get anything going between FH, AO and CARE. It sounded like you (teachers) were interested in getting some educational programs happening.

CF: Our approach to building resilience is based on the six basic needs. In that education is one of those six, we are open to areas where we can take an active role in building education. Knowing Bill was active in education at OU, I asked him if he was connected to other teachers who might be interested in developing some programs. We [Athens’ Own] have developed a worker readiness certificate to help address some of the gaps we see in education, and help students develop skills that we feel they aren’t getting from traditional education. How can we give college students the opportunity to develop modules, even self-help, maybe online? Even before they start working with us actively. In pursuing that with Bill, he came back to me with: “Hey, one thing I am doing is this program with student teachers at Fed Hock.” So I say, in trying to build community resilience, how can I be of service to Fed Hock’s mission, the care program, and to you as educators? How can we as a business help make your vision happen? Instead of just making widgets happen, our widget is community resilience. How can we build an opportunity to make what you want to happen, happen? How can what we do possibly be of service to what you are doing and what you are trying to accomplish?

BE: So we thought we’d start with something small and concrete with a specific goal in mind. One possibility is to center things around local food production, and looking into the possibility of maybe a meal for the cafeteria, some kind of end thing where we’d draw from local businesses. That would be the end, but the important part would be showing kids that there is a use for what they are learning and building resilience, critical thinking, research skills, composition skills, teamwork, social skills, creativity, all the things you are interested in seeing. It’s something that deals with real stuff, instead of filling in bubbles on a sheet. We thought the 8th grade team might be interested. With the past things that we have worked on together, it seemed logical that we could try to work together again.

CF: Looking at the FH mission statement, teamwork was strongly in there, as well as not just student teamwork, but multi-layered teamwork. The students have a hands on opportunity, and there’s latitude around what they can do. And that type of thing fosters creativity.

CB: At the end of the year, we were having conversations about doing things like this. So when CF showed up, I immediately thought this might fit in. It does fit perfectly with our operating principles. Particularly at the middle school.

SR: My goal is to make the kids think they have a purpose in life, that they can be a valuable citizen: How can I survive, but also learn all the core concepts along the way?

BE: I think it’s a perfect match to what CF is talking about. The students want to learn something to feel like it’s real and important right now. So we need to figure out what to do next and how each of us can contribute.

SR: So is our end goal to plan a meal for the cafeteria?

CF: I don’t think we got that far, it was a possibility. I think we’d rather start with you; what are your goals, how can the student teachers and CARE make something happen?

SR: Within the common core, the language arts portion is huge, and social studies has been pushed to the side a bit. If we could bring that back in, maybe we could add in social studies: what did they eat during a certain time? How could we tie in these other lessons and what he is doing? They could dress in character maybe. So, this could tie in social studies as well.

CF: Am I correct that both of you encompass the entire curriculum?

SR: No, I teach math, he teaches social studies, language, other things. Together we work on projects that encompass all of them.

BE: I think one of the things we’d like to incorporate into it is what is going on in the local area. Transportation, marketing, etc. I think you could do that still. If we’re looking at community development, one of the things that would be nice to look at is what are people doing in Athens county? Food production, distribution, etc, whatever’s involved. How does it get on the shelf? What’s the advantage.

CF: The opportunity there – where do we buy things? There’s math, science, social studies, in that. What does it look like now, what are some of the alternatives to that now?

BE: And I think the idea with different periods of time, I think it could be melded together. We’re not pushing anything in particular on you, but I think it would be great to incorporate what’s going on in the area.

SR: What is the time frame for this thing?

CF: As a pilot program, one year is a good goal. From my perspective, I am not going to only offer one year, these kids are the future, this is a long term investment. How can I be a part of this now, make a more grass roots involvement?

SR: If we started somewhere small, and added a different portion each time?

BE: Yeah, we can evaluate after each time and see what we think.

CF: Sometimes things like this can get too big too fast. I want to hear what you two think would be substantive. Here’s one example: how important dirt is. If food is the window we are going through, the importance of dirt, in a very simple way. That kind of simplicity.

BE: Ok so, I guess maybe if you’re interested, part of it is then how we will be able to work together. One of my goals is to help facilitate things between you guys.

SR: I think I have three oo four care students this year. Are you thinking they would be focusing on this project? You might be able to start with some younger OU students and as they go through the program they would become exceptional leaders.

BE: I think that would be great, I’d like to slip some sophomores and freshman in there if you’d be open to it. I’d like them to see some of the planning, maybe contribute to it as well. If that works.

BC: My imagination is going wild with all this.

BE: To me it boils down to language, language is key to everything. I think Constantine comes with a business perspective on the kind of skills you’d like to see creativity, teamwork, etc. I think we have a wealth of resources available locally to us. I think we have a totally unique vision of business here.

CF: Just to throw this out there, one of our partners is the red bird ranch. We buy their beef, that is happening in this circle, in any way that that could be beneficial in this effort. There’s definitely a lot of math opportunities, yields per animal, how much sources to feed a certain number of people, etc.

SR: Or even just to understand that beef comes from a cow! We have students who don’t know that!

BE: There are people that make a living, making that bacon and sausage.

SR: We have kids who have to give presentations on things like that for their 4H group. We want to tie in what these kids do outside of school, bringing that into what they are doing in a school day.

BE: Alyse has experience working with kids in non-traditional settings, so we can bring that to the table today.

CF: I should mention, I live out at the Broadwell stewardship center, in any way that might be of interest for any of the academic disciplines.

SR: Keith does a lot with soil composition. Mixing in Volume with me, cubic yards, etc. That was going to be one of our trips, tying in science with math, looking at the soil in our area.

CF: I’m glad you bring that up, Kathy is an avid worm farmer, she studies soil health, etc. That is definitely an area of strength.

SR: the kids struggled last year with the difference between a square and a cube. So someone brought up the idea of having them dig, and that ties it into science. How can we put all that into it, if we make raised beds, to plant new things, etc.

CF: That’s an awesome challenge of conveying 3d thinking.

SR: So he said, let’s make them actually dig a square foot, how do they measure it, where do they start? Now, let’s make a raised bed, what’s the volume we need to fill it? Proportions, scale drawings, they plan out their garden, then start the process of building it. As teachers, with the new evaluation system, we have to involve businesses, etc in our lessons. We can bring in construction companies, etc to show them how to build, measure angles, etc. Measurements aren’t in the common core anymore, its all algebra.

BE: Is there any modeling involved in that?

SR: It’s used about three different ways with the word modeling in math. There are a lot of different ways to model equations, etc.

CF: With the raised bed thing, it ties in decision-making and critical thinking. Do we just buy dirt? What’s the cost/benefit? If we have compost that we carry out of Athens, there’s a choice, could we build it, with compost, worms, etc? Maybe stepping down from buying it first, and start building it over the years. Building soil out of clay, with Kathy you can see the sequential progress, she has different areas at different places in their life cycle.

SR: Even figuring that out, when the kids do soil testing, what would it cost to transport some of that soil here? There’s a math tie-in again. What PH scale of the soil do you need to grow certain plants? Just getting them to understand just everything that goes into it. What process did food go through to get to you? Kids can memorize equations, word problems, they probably don’t read it, but what does it mean to them, they need to be able to connect to the words in it, make a real-world sense from it.

BC: The only thing I’m personally lacking, I can appreciate the goal of eating a fully supplied meal in our cafeteria, and I think we can understand how to get there. So I need a direction to go in.

SR: It think that is definitely an obtainable goal. I don’t think that is diving in too deep.

BE: There is a lot of stuff available about farming in this area in different time periods.

SR: Maybe we can even have some type of open-community event where the kids can show off what they did and learned. Maybe that can help get out the awareness to the community, or would that be too much?

CF: I don’t think it’s too much. Potentially we could do something with vendors at school events, even. It is important to convey to the public, why this hot dog costs more. The whole goal with the AO model is taking the profit and putting it back into these other efforts.

AC: I don’t want to forget about the OU students. Maybe they can help with some of this planning, creating a budget, presenting it through an educational light to the board if there are budget concerns. Maybe they can help describe this whole web of possibilities, which might help the whole thing actually happen and not get stuck in red tape somewhere.

SR: Our school has done pretty well, we serve Shagbark chips now, we have better lettuce, etc. I think students help making a presentation would be great. Our students are always texting, email, etc. they need practice speaking.

CF: Rationalizations like that would help us rationalize our investment as well. Why should we be directing community resources to this task?

BC: Somebody point a direction, I’m ready to go!

BE: It sounds like you two and Keith need to discuss some ideas and make some plans. We are looking at some culminating things, a sampler, a meal, etc. to celebrate everything they’ve done.

CF: It would seem like the hurdles for a sampler would be less than actually making a meal happen that is actually going to get served. Cooks, supportive staffing, etc.

BE: Let’s give some time for you three to talk, to brainstorm. I need to think about my students as well.

BC: School starts next week, so we need about three weeks to get everything settled.

BE: I’d love to sit in to the common planning meetings to see how CARE can get involved. Maybe even bring some students in to get involved. I’d like to be a part of it from the early stages.

Aug 052013

It seems that I have been travelling quite a bit this summer. From teaching at scout camps to family vacations to wilderness treks, I feel like I have been seeing a lot of the world recently.

This past week, I went backpacking to a family cabin in Ontario.The cabin itself is an old logging resort, and it buried deep in the wilderness. So deep that the closest “city” is over 20 miles away, and that city comprises only a gas station and a few houses. The pristine silence that descends on that cabin, broken only by the occasional call of a loon, brings on an incredible sense of not just the raw beauty of nature around me, but a calm meditation on the entire scope of the world and my small place in it. There really is no better place to contemplate life and the path you are on than the wilderness, in my opinion.

At the end of my ponderings, reflections, and journalings during this trip, I came to a hard but necessary conclusion: I believe it is time for me to begin my process of leaving Athens’ Own. I will be resigning my post at the end of August. Over the next day, I will be writing and developing a plan of action for the next two weeks and four weeks, which will explain not only how I came to this conclusion, but also how I will spend my Athens’ Own time over the next month, preparing myself and the rest of the team as best I can for my departure. I also feel I should note that I do not intend to simply leave the team entirely. We are still part of the same community, and the connections I have made with everyone over the past year mean more to me than I can put into words. It is my sincerest hope to remain in close contact with everyone and to continue to help with Athens’ Own’s efforts as much as I can.


The plan I am preparing will cover at least these topics (and potentially more as it develops)


  • My personal rationale of my decision
  • Detailed thank you letters to the team
  • Continued volunteer work plan
  • Two-week strategy

    – Recruiting

    – Job Descriptions

    – Internship postings

    – Finished tutorials of website

    – Additional blog posts

    – Completion of writings/ stories/ etc

  • Four-week strategy

    – Compilation of documents

    – Detailed plans for replacement

    – Educational models for new recruits

    – Completion of odd jobs on to-do list

    – Additional writings


As I mentioned above, this list is just an initial overview, I am sure this does not cover everything I need to do and say before I conclude my employment. I have learned and grown significantly in the past year with Athens’ Own, and I hope, in this plan, to express the depth of this growth and how everyone involved can move forward from it.

Jul 252013



What is Athens’ Own doing?


I wrote recently about picking up turtles from the highway, in an attempt to save them. I also mentioned that in this metaphor, Athens’ Own is trying to do more. However I didn’t say exactly what more means. And unfortunately, I don’t have a simple answer for that. The bottom line is, there are two options when you pick up that turtle. The first one is, you can say: “Good for me, I did something great!” and carry on with your day. The second option is that when you set that little turtle down in the nice cool grass, you think: “Huh.. Is that really the best that I can do?Is it possible that I am I capable of more?”


Sometimes, when you do your best, it doesn’t look like anything at all. The first person to hold up a sign in protest likely went home that day without physically seeing the results of their actions, even if their actions that day happened to start an avalanche that changed the course of history. But that person followed their heart, voiced it, and it catalyzed something happening. Doing more, doing your best, is not about spending time wondering if something is going to happen, its about having no doubt that there is a convergence of forces greater than oneself, that just might join together because of something you did or said. You might not always know what will happen, but the people that make the most difference are the people who do something because they know beyond a doubt in their heart that it is the right thing to do at that moment. And it usually happens that people of like mindedness are drawn together by these actions.


There is a moment in any action when you realize what you are doing is no longer the most powerful thing you can do. For the protester, it might be when they realize people are looking at them and actually listening, and they put down the sign and pick up the petition and start talking to individuals. After that it might be a presentation, a rally, or a roundtable. After that it might be something even bigger, but each action first began with a thought of: “How can I do better?”


This is the feeling that has driven Athens’ Own throughout the many years of work we have done. Keeping in mind our goal of building a better world for our grandchildren, we consider what we are doing everyday, and if it is truly our best. And if it’s not, how can we do better? We aren’t making decisions based on next year’s profit, but on the lives of our children’s children. We may not be able to see them and see how their lives will be just yet, but if we go to bed everynight knowing we did our absolute best for them, then both we and the turtles can get a good night’s sleep, and be ready to do our best tomorrow.

Jul 162013

Faller Foods and Constantine’s Dry Aged Beef

On a sunny Saturday morning in Carlisle, PA, as the church bells were chiming their last note, a little boy named Constantine Faller clung to his mothers’ arm as they walked down the street to the local butcher shop. This was the routine every Saturday morning; Mass, then a stroll down the street to order lunch from a nearby restaurant, and on to the butcher shop to pick up an order of meat to feed the family for the coming week. From those early days, when little Connie had to stand on his tip-toes to see over the top of the butcher block, to when he was old enough to walk down and pick up the family’s order by himself, he learned to understand and appreciate what true local quality meat was and what it meant.


A few years (and a few more younger siblings) down the line, a new local meat processing plant opened up in Carlisle. By now there were eight Faller kids. Every penny had to go as far as it could, and Constantine’s mother made the frugal decision to purchase meat at this new plant, instead of the small butcher shop. As a young adult, Constantine had little to no interest in where or why his mother bought groceries, but for some reason, his mother’s decision greatly upset his grandmother. Constantine realized that there was something clearly different about this new store and its beef, and his Grandmother was not happy about it. He soon discovered that particular something had a bit to do with texture and a lot to do with flavor.


Around this time, and even a bit earlier, a new practice of wet aging was becoming common in the commercial beef market. Most commercially available beef was no longer aged by hanging. Instead, to save money and time, beef was being hung for less than a week, then vacuum sealed in plastic packaging, boxed, and put on a warehouse shelf. Although the beef can still age in these sealed packages, the taste which results from wet aging is not at all similar to the rich, naturally flavorful taste gained from the traditional dry aging process. Unfortunately, this type of hanging (which was the method used in that little butcher shop Constantine used to go to,) takes time, effort, and energy. Wet aged beef can be boxed and neatly stored on shelves, as compared to the inconvenience of a room filled with whole, hanging carcasses. Even though it has a far superior flavor, very little beef is dry aged today. Because of this, the commercial beef industry made the decision to switch to wet aging.


Throughout his life, Constantine has never forgotten the little butcher shop and the superb taste of dry aged beef. Around 1995, after moving to Athens, Ohio, Constantine began experimenting with dry aging single cuts of beef. Unfortunately for a man who loves learning new things, there was no one around who could teach him this technique. It seemed like everyone he talked to about it had a story from their own childhood about helping their grandfather age beef in their barn, and running out to cut off a bit for breakfast in the morning, but it seemed the actual knowledge of the aging techniques died with those grandfathers. Never discouraged, Constantine attended beef production classes and workshops, conducted his own research, and experimented with his own processes and ideas, in diligent and passionate pursuit of that perfect steak.


Through his research, he discovered many unsettling trends in the beef industry. One of these was the practice of electrocuting entire beef carcasses to burn off the protein, and to accelerate the aging process, and Constantine found the sight of it horrifying. Witnessing this practice in particular drove him to decide to create a product which would uphold the absolute highest standards of not only taste, but also honor and respect, even after the animal is dead.


While experimenting with his own dry aging techniques, Constantine spent a good bit of time trying to find a meat processor to work with who would dry age his beef long enough. Most processors were willing to hang beef for no more than ten days. Constantine needed to find a local processor who would prepare the beef to his particular specifications. He searched high and low, made countless phone calls and visits, until he finally found Dick’s Meat Packing Plant, in New Lexington. Having already made connections with local beef farmers at the nearby Red Bird Ranch, he began to develop these two partnerships to make his dry aged beef a reality. Constantine knew that beef is generally a product that people are willing to pay a premium for. He also knew that bringing a truly exceptional local beef product to an already strong local economy would be one way to begin work to get the farmers a fair wage. Constantine was eager to establish a system which would explore ways to provide sustainable economic development for everyone involved.


Around this time, Constantine was already beginning to sell coffee in a few local stores. The coffee as a product was relatively easy to bring to the market. Using the cooperative relationships he had already begun to create with these local businesses, he was able to begin selling his own dry aged beef. Constantine’s first commercial sale of his beef was in April of 2005, to the Wild Horse Cafe in Pomeroy, Ohio. Since then, he has created collaborative partnerships with many Athens county businesses to distribute and sell his dry aged beef, including Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, which today serves a burger he created, (called the “Athens’ Own Burger”), made with Constantine’s dry aged ground beef patties. Retail offering includes Poston’s Carry out in Stewart and Seaman’s Grocery in Athens.


Throughout the story of this beef, Constantine has never had anything more than word of mouth to know he was doing a good job. He never entered any contests, or pursued any national recognition. He just knew he liked the beef, and hoped other people would like it too, which turns out to be exactly what happened. By word-of-mouth, Athens’ Own dry aged beef has been compared to beef available in the finest New York steak houses, and has been hailed by many local chefs as a truly exceptional product. Even so, Constantine is still working to continuously learn more and refine his methods. He still experiments with aging methods, temperatures, grain, and genetics. He hopes to never be entirely finished crafting and perfecting the quintessential delicious steak. For Constantine, Athens’ Own dry aged beef is truly a life-long labor of love.

Jul 152013


Meeting at Fed Hock High School – 7/15/13

In attendance:

-Bill Elasky

-Cliff Bonner

-Constantine Faller

-Alyse Carter

-Miles McFadden


CF: To start, a little bit of background with Bill- through the window of business, we are working on building resilience. The solutions lie in places that are not part of our current educational stream. If we are taking interns from all these places (OU, hocking, etc), there are opportunities for us to create some educational models.

Some of the subsequent discussions have moved into evaluation, how to determine what and how students learn. If we’re working with students at OU, with someone who has already been through the education model, that creates its own problems. We say that as a business, you are not ready to work for us. That is usually shocking to students- I got this degree, you’re saying I’m not good enough?

We actually had a student write a piece on the shortcomings of education for one of her first projects.

Bill and I have talked about the care program, so we have the opportunity to get to these students early.

CB: So what type of shortcomings are you talking about?

CF: Research

AC: Writing, resumes, what I would call “common sense” skills.

CF: Alyse talked to a journalism professor who was shocked to hear that we had a complaint about one of her students’ writing. Critical thinking is another one. Social Skills.

CB: What exactly does your business do?

CF: (Explanation of AO, with help from Alyse)

CB: So are you a non-profit?

CF: No, we are purposely a for-profit. I chose it so that I could use that megaphone, that window of opportunity to get my message across. Like Bill said, we are doing a different kind of business.

How can I help the future generations to be better able to handle what is coming in the future? I’m not a doomsdayer, I’m a realist. What do I have in my toolkit that I can give to these kids? How can I use logic to help people see from point A to point B? Yes, this is Athens’ Own, and me, but the goal is that any community can build from the model and make their own marketing network and bring it to their community.

CB: So what were you thinking? What are your ideas?

CF: In the sense of pathways of decision making, I asked Bill if he was interested in an overall project in which the first slice, a micro-project, is a part of. For example, if building resilience is too nebulous, one slice of building resilience is local food security. One slice of that is local farms, what can we grow, how can we grow more locally. So, strengthening local agriculture. It is also a way to help me apply my training as a chef to help make this happen. If in any way the project is related to healthy community, somewhere further down the line is the Red Bird Ranch, a slice as a starting point is healthy soils. I’m not saying it might be the best one for these students coming in, but if you have a study of a healthy soil food web, how can that be broken into something the kids can do for one quarter, how long is the project?

CB: Were you thinking with the CARE?

BE: What I would like to see, is if we can get some CARE kids, something that would involve all three of us, the school system, AO, CARE. If you’ve got contacts with local food producers here, it makes sense to involve them also. It makes sense to start with something concrete that gets us all working together. I know you want to move beyond something short term, but coming up with something concrete would be a good way to get people thinking and working together, as long as there is an understanding that this is just the first step, trying to get some successful experiences under our belt. My involvement at this point would be a semester, but I wouldn’t want to stop with that. I like the idea of a partnership with a business, especially one who is trying to be as progressive as the district. I think our goal is similar. Perhaps one of the goals for Fed Hock is to start stepping out into the community and have a bigger impact on what’s happening in the community, beyond just sports and entertainment, but something that helps bring the community together. I think in doing that both the OU and Fed Hock students would feel inspired to be a part of that.

Students turn in sub standard work because they’ve never done anything REAL. They turn in the paper and skip off, whatever grade they get is fine. They want to do something real, something that inspires them.

BE: (Explanation of foxfire project in Georgia). The kids loved it, they were doing something that MATTERED. If it was a good issue, it was because the kids put into it what needed to be done. If they didn’t feel it, they would put out something that was substandard, but they didn’t do that, they had a personal stake in what they are doing. That’s what we want in our educational system, that’s what kids will get excited about, it doesn’t matter if they are in college, or a freshman here, etc. If you talk about social skills, it gives them reasons to work together and develop those social skills. All these things that you want, I think are things that we want, all these things are there, and it’s because of the partnership. What we need to do is figure out where we can begin to cooperate. You want to develop these skills, and you want to do it under your business models. So where is it that we start? How can we begin to cooperate so that we are helping our community become healthier, more self-sustaining, we’re helping kids become more involved in doing something that matters in the community. And how can my students assist?

CF: Is there anything in the educational models that illustrates the interconnectedness of life on this planet?

CB: Our science programs definitely touch on some of that…You can do things two ways- in a classroom or in some outside activity. Kids here have to have citizenship points to graduate. As little as going to a board meeting, but it gets more involved from there. Bill, you’ve usually worked with teachers in the CARE program.

BE: Yes, and there’s difficulty finding the time and space to make these things happen in the way that we as teachers want it to. I haven’t always been successful in getting our end of the needs spectrum met, some of that has to do with the curriculum, and the test. It might be good to do something out of school at first.

CF: What I was asking was a question of whether a project base could help them reinforce what they are learning. If they are going to take their square foot of dirt and farm it, do the water and air matter? The usefulness of giving them real-world application. And what are the hundred year effects, and if this could be a useful real-world thing, a starting point to help reinforce some of those science type things.

CB: That is definitely part of our science program here. There is a garden out back, our teacher has been doing that for years. The teachers are in tuned with environmental issues. So yeah I think that definitely would be a real world application. I don’t think it would connect with the agriculture department, I don’t think they get that kind of spin in that department. They don’t quite have that kind of slant on things. So that might not work as well there.

(Discussion of AO’s beef processing, locations, people, etc)

CF: There are job opportunities for someone who would like a local job- helping process meat, etc.

CB: So back to the question of where do we start. How do you get the kids, how to get them to buy in? It would be a little bit of a commitment outside of school. We are a big district, but we do run activity buses…so how do we get them to buy in and then get there?

BE: Could we do over lunch?

CB: Definitely. We had a nutrition group come in one time. Lunch is a great time. But teachers do have constraints on their time.

CF: In the sense of a resilience building company, these things we sell are just the fundraising efforts. To be halfway good at that, one needs to be flexible. I can say, you will learn. If you come in and say you want to learn and here’s what you have in your toolkit, coming up with projects is an easy thing for me. Listening to everyone’s needs, how can we help being a part of making them happen? These are things I currently have on my slate, but it certainly isn’t limited. I’d rather hear, what is your primary need, and how we can be a solution to that.

BE: A need I have is to show that education doesn’t have to be book-centered. It is best when it is set into something real. It doesn’t have to limit you, if you can integrate the whole thing, especially things like math that you tend to break down into little things. You can use math or science to accomplish many things. There’s no advantage to knowing something if it doesn’t have any use. We teach things that don’t have use because it doesn’t have any context. All those other things come because you are doing something real, because of the context you put it in. So that’s my goal. Many college students are going into education because they had such a meaningless experience, they want to do something to change it. So our need is to do something real.

AC: I assume you’re familiar with the term experiential education? That’s what you are talking about, right?

Be: Exactly.

CB: So how do we get this started?

BE: The beef thing, gives us a window to look at all these things, jobs, resources, businesses, etc.

CB: There’s so many levels to this. The middle school science class would be great for this. But there’s also these levels, like jobs, non-typical business models, sustainability, there’s so many levels.

AC: I think a good star would be to start with seeing the story

CB: I think that’s great, “what’s the issue?”

CF: My definition of food security is to be able to feed ourselves on an open timeline from sustainable local sources. As a scenario of a problem to solve, do we have the square footage, that’s tillable, to feed our current population? That reality of how much agriculture does it take for a family of four? Etc, etc

BE: even if you are’t going to look at this as a potential emergency situation, if you rely on local people, what does that do for the health of the community? If the money stays in the community?

CB: Well I’m thinking kids need a hook!

AC: Show them the food! Feed them a steak, show them a cow.

CB: I’d say every one of our students knows a farmer. The hook could be that, we are helping people we know. People know the Lackeys. Maybe its leanring more about the food.

BE: Going back to the 30 mile meal, how about the hook is, trying to construct a meal, one meal that is 30 mile meal. In the cafeteria.

CB: Whats a feasible number of kids? The middle school science teacher, he doesn’t have as many constraints. We want to make a more real middle school concept- inter-departmental cooperation. They can use their time for anything around the core classes.

BE: We could facilitate beyond just that too.

CF: There’s a lot of power in what a 7th grader can say….they’re old enough to speak with a mature voice. Without wagging a finger of negativity, going into a rotary that might be buying from GFS- giving a presentation on why they should buy food from the Lackeys. Get the kids to understand that the research might tell them that they might need to do things a different way. If it can potentially convince a rotary, then its one more body that is focusing on this: Make them say “when we eat at the country club, we are gonna eat 30 mile meal, that 8th grader convinced us to do something better for our future.”

CB: I think you’ve got your hook: your lunch prices are going to go up if you don’t find a way to buy local.

BE: 8th grade would be perfect.

CB: We have three teachers who I think would buy into this.

BE: So we have language, social studies, math, science. It’s a hook to get them out into the community and get involved.

CB: It’s got interdisciplinary written all over it. Do we just want to start with one class, you have a lot of kids…

BE: In effect what we are doing is giving these teachers a way to change how they teach. To put all the subjects together and to do something that is real. I think these deficiencies that you see, I think will become part of that. And at the end, the big thing is, we need to consciously look at how this 30 mile meal thing impact the community.

CF: One of the things we are trying to do is show kids and help them understand what they can do with their square foot. I think somewhere in there is where our solutions lie, from the ground up.

BE: Does this 30 mile meal thing start to get into where you want to go and what you want to do?

CF: Yes, I think it is a great hook.

CB: One of our challenges here has been to bridge our community-school gap. I think we’re starting to do that, but I think there’s ways that we can do better. I think this is perfect for that. I think the first step is to talk to the teachers and if they buy in and this goes well…we do have a lot of teachers who do project based things, we have practical assessments, the senior project. They know the idea, now how do I more engrain it into what they are doing in the classroom, and it takes outside people to come in and facilitate that. You (CF) help to bring that community connection.

CB: Well I can invite in that middle school team, would you like me to do that?

BE: I think a good next step would be to talk to these teachers, and see if they are interested. That gives us a place to start. I want my students to have some part in developing this, I dont’ want them to step into a project thats already full blown.

CB: Would the first teacher day, august 16th be too late to get together?

BE: I’d like to present the information to them sooner, let them think about it, talk about it. Then on the 16th come in and talk to them a little bit more. I don’t want to have it too finely developed. I’d like to give the students an option to come in and listen.

Conclusion: BE and CB will discuss with FH teachers, contact AC for more information later and to facilitate the OU student’s introduction to AO.

Jul 142013

On Thursday morning, Constantine and I started by him asking me what it was that I do that “gets me to the next gear”, as if in a car. I think that he asked because it seems that I don’t really “get excited” or even move fast while working with Athens’ Own. Anyway, I said I thought I “changed gears” when I do something like mowing. I didn’t really know why, but I thought maybe it was because I wanted to get it done faster and finish sooner. I wonder if that means that I don’t really want to finish my current activity with Athens’ Own or what. One other thing that I have thought of since that conversation was airsofting. Whenever I get in an airsoft war with my friends, I really get really involved and active in that activity. Now I need to “transfer” those actions (speed) and mindsets (wanting to be involved more) to working with Athens’ Own. One thing that I should transfer is the ability to take any situation and make the most of it. While mowing, I try to do the best job I can, even if the grass is too long or wetish. It gives me the opportunity to see what works best/worst in those situations. The same with airsoft. I can try out different strategies and work toward becoming proficient with the best one or two. Again, I need to get that into my Athens’ Own work.

Later that morning, once Alyse got there, we went into the the kitchen at ACEnet and saw some cinnamon bread that Crumbs had left out. We of course had to ask if they were freebies. They said they were because they had gotten slightly stale and hadn’t sold out front. That didn’t stop us. We took a loaf of that bread and got some butter. We put the butter directly into a skillet and placed the bread slices right in it and let it sizzle. After a flip or two, we had some awesome grilled cinnamon bread. After the Crumbs guys ate a loaf or so of that up, we made some more, only this time we tried it as french bread. Couple of eggs, cinnamon, some sugar and the cinnamon bread. With some cinnamon sugar and maple syrup, it was just as good.

I think that using that stale bread in those ways was the beginning of making the best of opportunities that we may not like at first. The bread was stale and by most standards, was not usable. But we found a way to make the best of it and turned it into a couple awesome things to share for breakfast. I now just need to find ways to do that in all the other things I do with Athens’ Own.