Apr 112013

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.

Apr 102013

Monday we did the usual bagging of coffee and cashews. We re-packaged some olives in order to get some onions and garlic better distributed. We also bought two new coolers for the sweet beef bologna which was also my first actual online purchase with a credit card.

Tuesday we did a variety of things. We first inventoried then stocked Seaman’s, for my second time. While there, we also inventoried  the AO meat section, which I hadn’t done before and required a slightly different method. After that, we went to Jackie O’s and gave them a new filter for the coffee pots to prevent them from overflowing. We also delivered chips to them as well. Once done with that, we went back to ACEnet and took the coffee maker from there and went to Bagel Street Deli uptown and swapped their maker for the one we brought. We then swapped that one with the one at Jackie O’s brewery, because that one isn’t working right, so as Constantine said, we did “the coffee machine shuffle.” All in all, a good day with new things to experience.

Apr 092013

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.

Apr 092013

Constantine Faller approached me to work with him at Athens’ Own through Facebook. He informed me that Alyse his liaison/public information officer would email me. I later received an email from Alyse and was told that there are internship positions available. I contacted Constantine through Facebook messaging and told him that I was not interested in working for free. He assured me that I would be paid and that Alyse was a paid intern. Constantine then asked me what my full attention would cost per week. This question was intimidating for me because I did not know who he was or what working with him full time would entail. I proceeded to avoid him and the question to the point of being at the Athens Farmers Market on a Saturday; I greeted him in the parking lot while he was away from his booth carrying a banana box of apples on his way to distribute them to Seaman’s grocery store.  I did not recognizing him as a potential employer or the owner of Athens’ Own. Constantine is connected to many businesses in Athens and yet I still had no idea of what kind of man he is, the work he does, all the products he sells, or the wisdom that he practices. My knowledge was limited to my distant observations which were that he was kind and engaging and that I once bought coffee from him at the Athens Farmers Market.

Alyse informed me that there is a certificate of training with Athens’ Own but there is not an outline or specified timeline for the Workers Readiness Certification. She has been working at Athens’ Own for eight months and she is still an intern without the certificate. Alyse has an undergraduate and masters degree from Ohio University and is the only paid worker at Athens’ Own.  My first day, I showed up at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, ACEnet, located on Columbus Road in Athens, Ohio. ACEnet is where Athens’ Own and Faller Foods is stored, packaged, and distributed. Constantine was not present at my first meeting, he had left prior to my arrival and I was a half an hour early. Alyse gave me the marketing material that they are distributing and told me to go home and read it and come back the next day.

What I learned is that Athens’ Own Collaborative Business Network was established in 2001, which is the same year that Dawn Chorus Coffee was sold at the C & E Market on Richland Avenue in Athens, Ohio. The business focus has always been to create community resiliency, sustainability, teamwork, education, and local foods. Resiliency and sustainability are closely linked; sustainability is the ability for an economy and the ecosystems supporting the environment of that society to be able to meet all the needs of all its inhabitants for the foreseeable future. Resiliency is the ability of an economy and the ecosystems that support the environment of the society to respond to change with symbiosis. In the event of a catastrophe the community could continue operating during and after the effects of a catastrophe.

I was surprised to learn that Constantine has many Athens’ Own products such as: Dawn Chorus Coffee, Hot Spiced Cashews, Pickled Peppers, Pancake and Waffle Mix, Aged Wisconsin Cheese, Dry Aged Beef, Sweet Beef Bologna, and Worm Castings. Constantine Faller is the creator, manager, distributer and steward of Athens’ Own.  Faller Foods is the product logo that encompasses Constantine’s products and other producers that do not have their own name brand. Therefore the Pure Ohio Maple Syrup is from River Sugar Camp in Stockport, Ohio and the Ohio Honey is from either Gillogly Orchard or Washington County. Everything with the Athens’ Own logo is a product of Constantine’s efforts. Faller Foods is the logo that represents the standard to which Constantine lives and works. The product is thereby guaranteed to be high-quality, locally grown or raised, and/or value is added to the product locally.

Apr 092013

Your Internship Log : What is it? Why do we want our interns to write them? What is the purpose?

Your internship log fulfills at least three important purposes:

1. Tracking. It is a record of your internship progress. Your log can help you remember things you have already learned, reflect on things you want to learn more about, and keep track of what you have and haven’t done. If you are working on an internship for college credit, many universities require a written log just for this purpose, so it can help you with your school requirements as well.

2. Feedback. Through the logs, we can evaluate concepts you are understanding well, and identify ones which need worked on. If you are assigned a certain task to help you understand a concept, your log should reflect on not just what you did that day, but how it relates to your learning objectives. It helps both us and you understand where you are. We can see areas or ideas that you are making good progress on, and/or areas you need to improve, and then we don’t waste time repeating the same lessons, but rather we can use your log to stay on track and keep moving forward. The logs are on the website in blog form because that makes it easy for us to comment and give you feedback, directly on a specific log entry.

3. Community outreach. The question: “What does Athens’ Own do?” comes up often in conversation with community members. Your logs will help illustrate some of the actions we are working on, as well as vividly illustrate how we are attempting to educate and train you for future opportunities. The community can also see the feedback process, and other people looking for educational models can clearly see how we use our logs to work towards our goals.


How to write a log:
Although each person has their own style and format preferences, here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a log:

1. The audience. Keep the above purposes in mind. Try to write in a way that is as transparent and clear as possible, so that the Athens’ Own team, community, and distant readers can understand what and why you are writing. There is so much happening and so much connected to each small action, that there is no reason why your log should be just a recount of the day’s events. Think about what you want future readers to glean from your experience and write to them.

2. Timeliness: We work at the speed of business and the speed of resilience, which is nearly instant. Please don’t wait a week to write a log. By then, it’s likely the information is out of date. Ideally, you should post a log when you get home from working with Athens’ Own, or even DURING your workday, while it is happening, if you can.

3. Concepts and connectedness. If all of our interns wrote logs which simply stated: “This is what I did today”, we would have a lot of repetitive information, and not much interesting or visible progress. Try to connect the small actions you did today to the bigger picture, the concepts behind what you are doing, and what you have done before. If, for example, one day you do extensive work with a mentor to learn about Holistic Management, and the next day you package coffee, see if you can draw in some insight into the coffee packaging from what you learned about Holistic Management. Or, you could think ahead and speculate as to how a future project or learning session could enhance your understanding of the coffee process.

4. Do your best. This is your opportunity to demonstrate not only your writing skills, but your ability to organize information, present it, and motivate others to get involved with Athens’ Own. We take the logs very seriously, and we hope you will too.

Apr 082013

We went to the OU mini market for the first time ever on Friday and it was pretty nice. It was certainly smaller than the regular Athens Farmers Market but it still was rather productive. There were less food sellers and more sellers of actual items like jewelry, of which there are none at the Athens Farmers Market. We also made the first ever AO credit card sales via Alyse’s smartphone and therefore got a little better view of how that process works. I feel though that to make that market better, they should move it somewhere with a little more space, maybe even just across the road to the main green allowing then many more people to attend as vendors, increasing overall size and thereby increasing the whole appeal of that market . Other than that, it seems like they’ve got a good thing going. I think the lady running the market said that this one was their 6th one and it was pretty nice and well attended for being that young.

Also, as I have stated before, I think this internship is a great experience. I have been learning so many things about so many things. To begin with, I have learned how to better greet customers at places like the Athens Farmers Market and how to make change for them. I have also learned how to correctly weigh and package various products. I have seen/learned how to inventory, stock and deliver to stores and restaurants. I have also gotten a better view of the community, the business and my life as a whole and so forth through holistic management, of which I hadn’t really any experience before this internship. It’s very much education that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It’s also real world and pre “real job” experience, which is of course invaluable.

Apr 082013

I love coffee and I drink it everyday. On Thursday April fourth I volunteered at Athens’ Own. It was really fun because they package their products at ACEnet, the community kitchen and office location on Columbus Road. I was able to see many of the wonderful community members that enhance the sustainability practices and knowledge in Athens everyday. I received free potato seeds and garlic from Community Food Initiatives on that day. I learned that Athens’ Own is not just a business, Constantine Faller and his team are working to actualize a vision of resiliency. While you are enjoying your cup of Dawn Chorus Coffee you are supporting ethical economic choices. Constantine Faller, owner of Athens’ Own, orders coffee that is certified by the Café Feminino organization which ensures living wage jobs and works to create education and better living conditions for women in coffee countries such as Peru. Dawn Chorus Coffee is fair trade, organic, shade grown, and the coffee is roasted in Athens County. The boxes and equipment used in the production process are up-cycled or re-purposed. The packaging of the coffee is done at the community kitchen in Athens, Ohio known as the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks and is made of compostable material that has been recycled. Therefore the purchase of Dawn Chorus Coffee is a small action that reinforces a larger vision of holistic management.

Historically women in South America are limited to working in the household/farm and are married between the ages of 12-16. Currently due to the network of businesses supporting the work of Café Feminino, one thousand women are sharing experiences that increase their self-esteem, leadership qualities, and security while working outside of their homes. They are coffee farmers preparing the terrain and the nurseries. They compost fertilizer, prepare bio-fertilizers, harvest, de-pulp, ferment, and dry the coffee. They also sell the coffee and have the privilege of deciding how the money is used. This is a rare accomplishment! Two cents per pound above fair trade price is paid to the US Importer of Café Femenino to pay for the income and education of these working women producers.

Athens County is documented as being one of the poorest counties in the nation, yet many people of Athens have learned that the meaning of wealth is found in the strengths of a community, holistic education, Biomimicry, energy that is ecologically and economically sustainable, clean water and air, healthy food, bike paths, community gardens, seed sharing and public parks. The local business owners, farmers, distributers and workers support one another in Athens which is the true standard of wealth. The focus of Athens’ Own is community resilience, sustainability, teamwork, education, and local food. Holistic Management is the vision that Constantine Faller is working to expand. Coffee is a common beverage yet how the coffee bean is grown and who it benefits from its sale is not always a common consideration. Luckily Constantine Faller has created the opportunity for the consumer to make a mindful choice. A drop of Dawn Chorus Coffee in your cup creates ripples of resiliency. Constantine is impeccable with his word, clear eyed, strong willed and ready for a challenge. I feel fortunate to have met him and his team and look forward to learning and sharing more about Athens’ Own in the near future.

Dawn Chorus Coffee is served in Athens, Ohio at Salaam Restaurant, Bagel Street Deli, Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, The Union Bar and Grill, 9 Tables, Columbus Road Diner and Burgers.

It can be purchased at the Athens Farmers Market, Seaman’s Grocery Store, Hyacinth Bean, Village Bakery, Dale’s B.P., Amesville Manna House General Store, Poston’s Carry-Out in Stewart, Ohio and Sharpsburg Gilchrist B.P.

Apr 012013

This log covers both Tuesday (26) and Thursday (28).

Tuesday, Alyse and I first packaged some more marinated olives and sealed jars of honey. After we were done with those two things, we went to Seaman’s to inventory our products, which was good since I hadn’t done that before and so I learned more of where our things are in Seaman’s. We back back to ACEnet and got everything ready to go to stock Seaman’s. We couldn’t yet take stuff because Constantine was not yet at ACEnet and we needed the inventory book which he has in his truck. While we waited, I worked on my HM stuff (whole and goal) while Alyse also did some things on her computer. Once he got there, he sliced some more aged cheese for us to take with us to Seaman’s and then the two of us went there. We then stocked Seaman’s with our newer products to replace the ones that they had sold. I hadn’t yet ever done that before and so that, both the inventorying and the stocking, were fun and learning experiences.

Thursday, we didn’t package anything but we mainly first inventoried the AO cage at ACEnet and replaced cheese boxes milk crates or other boxes because the cheese boxes aren’t holding up under the increasing weight on them. We also placed a few orders to places like Snowville Creamery and we also prepared deliveries to places like 9 Tables and Jackie-O’s. Once we were done with that, the three of us went to the conference there at ACEnet and we did a little resilience chart exercise, using the initial cattle that we get the beef for everything from. Stating at the farm level, we looked at everyone involved in the processes of the AO beef and we got something like this: Farm, (Redbird Ranch) processing, (Dick’s meat processing) ACEnet, (value added, one of which is some aging) retail, (packaged, Seaman’s, Hill’s Market in Columbus) retail, (cooked/served, Farmers Market, 9 Tables) and finally ending in compost which he gets from some of the business which will then circle back to the beginning of the cycle. There were of course other steps and other businesses involved, but I can’t remember them all. Constantine also said on Saturday that a good way to view the products (the meat sticks for one) is to look at them like they are Legos and to look at them like they are a new kind of building blocks and that the building is in fact the community. When you look at how many people/businesses are involved in just one product, I think that analogy of them being Legos is quite right.

Apr 012013

On Monday, Alyse and I first packaged coffee and then bagged and made some more spiced cashews. We then went to the conference room and Alyse gave me a short tutorial on the athensown.net wordpress stuff. She showed me how to update the plugins and how to backup the site. She then tasked me with making a small page on athensown.net and to mess around with themes, colors and stuff. I did and it’s rather easy, once you figure out your way around. Just a few things to remember, never update Widget Context; it will break EVERYTHING. Also, under discussion in making a new page, ALWAYS unclick both “allow comments” and “allow trackbacks and pingbacks”.

Mar 252013

The other day, Alyse and I went to the opening of the new Hills Market in Columbus and as per her request, this log will have more of a theme than just about the day.

Her first question: “In what ways did you see the Hills Market attempting to be sustainable and build community resilience? How do you think Athens’ Own could help them towards this goal?”

I think that they are doing pretty well in that first part, considering the large amount of “Made in Ohio” products that they have for sale. They aren’t just relying on big national companies for their products, even if that company is organic or whatever. They involve many small Ohio businesses and seem proud to do so. That involvement makes everybody a bit more sustainable and resilient because if they sell the products, that’s more income for the producers (thereby helping those small businesses) and more for the store itself.  As for the second part, I think that Athens Own is helping the Hills Market by providing them with a great Ohio product that doesn’t just come from one Ohio business, but also from the various farms that the meat comes from in addition to Athens Own.

Her second question: “Do you think selling our products at the Hills Market is a good “form of production” to bring us closer to our goal?”

I do think that the selling of AO products does help in bringing us closer to the goals. It certainly helps with “generate profit from fulfilling work.” I also think it helps with the “participate in activities that are fulfilling, challenging, and inspire growth and development.”, mainly the challenging and growth and development,  in that it is a bigger distributor than anything AO is involved with so far. That’s growth and development, but also the challenge is in providing more product to a big (er) distributor.

Her last request was to go through the holistic management testing questions with the decision to sell or not sell at the Hills Market.

I think that (from what I have learned so far) the decision to sell seems to pass the relevant questions. The only thing that I think could be worked on and therefore would help,  is the pricing of  the sausage. It appeared that AO had increased the price of the meat  for just Hills Market transactions (which they would still need to mark up) and not for everybody. I think that if AO gave them a lower wholesale price for the meat, the Hills Market would sell more, needing more from us thereby helping us towards our goals.