Jan 072013

Today I headed out to the Athens Farmer’s Market to help Constantine and others at the Athens’ Own booth. By the time I showed up, the Farmer’s Market had just begun, and both Alyse and Constantine did their best to catch me up on their processes on market day. Sweet beef bologna, hot spiced cashews, pickled peppers, and Constantine’s pancake and waffle mix were all for sale, and I had the opportunity to try samples. I appreciated the spicy kick of most of his products; though it was different, it still reminded me of the Cajun seasonings used in the south. Constantine was also selling hot hamburgers and freshly made cheesy grits, with the latter being a hit, as I suspect they are every week. A little boy approached us, and his mother told us that the cheesy grits were the first thing he asked for in the morning. Others flocked to his booth for hot Dawn Chorus Coffee that he served in reused mugs. Once they were done, they brought the mug back and Constantine would wash it and serve coffee to the next person who came along. Alyse explained that one of the great features of Athens’ Own is their certification as a mobile food vendor; because of this, they are able to legally clean dishes and reuse them during market hours. This small gesture made me smile, as it showed the importance of reusing and was a small representation of the sense of community held by Athens residents.


Later in the morning, Alyse explained the differences between the coffees that Constantine was selling. The importance of their coffee is that it is fair trade, shade grown, organic, and cafe femenino certified. Fair trade, she explained, means that their coffee is purchased from farmers at a higher price, which both supports better wages and working conditions. Coffee itself is best grown under a vast expanse of trees and plants, and shade grown means that this coffee supports ecosystems by not clear-cutting, as many companies will do to grow their coffee. Organic means that the coffee is grown without pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that disrupt the natural growth of the plant. And finally, Alyse explained, cafe femenino supports women in coffee producing countries by supplying them with better jobs and education, among other things. I was both impressed and shocked that a tiny bag of Dawn Chorus Coffee positively influences such a broad array of social and environmental inequalities.


By the time the Farmer’s Market ended, I couldn’t feel my feet, but it was worth it to brave the cold and I was already looking forward to the next time I could attend the Farmer’s Market to help. I leave for New Orleans in a week, but will assistance as much as I can from afar. I can’t wait to come back and experience Athens’ Own and the Athens community in the summertime.


-Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern

Jan 072013

Today I headed out to the Broadwell Learning Center with Alyse. The first thing I learned about the center was that it was completely off the grid. While I had learned about such buildings in theory, I had never had the opportunity to visit one personally. When we pulled up to the house, it seemed normal enough, but upon entry, I soon realized that this building was an environmentalist’s dream. Powered by solar energy, equipped with compost toilets, upcycled materials, and reused appliances, this structure was certainly sustainable. Alyse gave me a brief tour and I began to realize that every aspect of the building was closely tied to nature, as all available environmental resources were utilized. The worm composting and compost toilet in the bottom floor of the building provided the land with rich, fertile soil, and the pond near the house proved to be a useful water source. The solar panels were tilted in a perfect angle to the sun, and the rays reflected off of the ice in the pond to allow maximum solar exposure. Garlic, among many other things, was grown near the building, and was used in many of Constantine’s dishes. The building was well insulated and warm, and I soon noticed the wood-burning stove in the corner of the room. After the tour, I was both impressed and extremely intrigued.


By the time Alyse and I returned, Constantine was working on setting up a grinder that was powered by a bicycle. We sat around and discussed Athens’ Own in more depth. I helped myself to some coffee. We spoke about the changing generations, individuals’ thirst for capital and the changing work ethic in America, among other things. After drinking our cups of coffee, Alyse and I sat down and began intern training. She had me compile a list of problems that I felt existed currently and related to sustainability. We then compared my list to the list she had already created. Surprisingly, we had similar ideas, but one major difference presented itself. I forgot to add public health preparedness to my list, which is a major problem in the world today and pertains to the mission of Athens’ Own. Interestingly enough, my public health courses at Tulane focused on public health preparedness on the professional scale, but Alyse pointed out that the public themselves also lack the adequate training and tools needed to deal with disasters. This, of course, relates back to a resilient and sustainable society. Both Constantine and Alyse brought up on multiple occasions that we should think of society now as being in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Were power lines to fail and people quarantined in homes, how would they survive? One look at the Broadwell Learning Center, and one could easily tell that Constantine himself would be able to, but others may be less fortunate. The problem essentially stems from society’s inability to look ahead and prepare for any type of disaster. Constantine lamented society’s inability to perform basic household and community tasks on its own. Contrastingly, Constantine can fix a stove, won’t suffer if power failures occur, and won’t starve when the zombies (or a hurricane, tornado, or other disaster) come.


The zombie apocalypse concept was a hard one to grasp when I first learned about it, but Alyse had more tools to help me understand. We turned our attention to holistic management, another overarching value deeply imbedded in the history of Athens’ Own, and one that individuals, companies, organizations, and families alike can use. Holistic management helps us look forward (and thus is a useful tool when understanding sustainability) but does so in such a way that we have a sound framework to address our future needs. It is based primarily on looking at the bigger picture and understanding long-term ramifications. Holistic management closely ties in with FEMA’s Incident Command System (ICS), another set of concepts that addresses public health preparedness. ICS lays out a standardized and concise disaster management plan that provides jurisdictions, agencies, personnel, and individuals with an organizational structure should disaster strike. In order to fully understand this procedure and its importance to the community, Athens’ Own interns become certified in ICS 100. Though it was daunting at first, I soon realized that the certification program was both informational and interesting.


As our long day drew to an end, Alyse had me count money in preparation for the upcoming Farmer’s Market. I learned an incredible amount of information while at the Broadwell Learning Center and look forward to expanding my knowledge base tomorrow.


– Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern

Jan 072013

When I initially applied for the Athens’ Own internship I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had recently come home to Athens for Christmas break after a long semester at Tulane University and was looking forward to relaxing. Of course, this relaxation period included finding a summer internship, but that was the exciting part of my break; I was eager to reconnect with my hometown that I had dearly missed while in New Orleans. One morning after Christmas had passed, I decided to visit the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism page on the Ohio University website. As a communication major, I am always researching internships and opportunities in the Athens area, and was delighted to find an expansive and detailed list of internships currently available. The Athens’ Own internship immediately popped out at me. After scouring their webpages, I was even more thrilled. Athens’ Own is a local business focused on sustainability and resiliency, and as a public health major as well, I was familiar with these two concepts. The webpages promised that the Athens’ Own internship would differ from the typical internship experience and that learning would be inevitable. That was okay with me, as this internship opportunity bridged my passions for both journalism and public health, and I was eager to learn pertinent skills in both fields.


Later that week (today, in fact!) I finally met with Alyse, the internship coordinator for Athens’ Own. Though I had familiarized myself with their mission as best I could, I was still unsure of what to expect. We first talked about my qualifications and then began to delve into the values of Athens’ Own themselves. Alyse explained that Athens’ Own, besides focusing on creating a healthy society, was centered on supporting local businesses and creating a sense of community. Resiliency was a big part of this equation, and, as it turns out, my definition of resiliency was different than the one that they hold to be true. While resiliency is the ability to adapt to disaster or change, Alyse explained that Athens’ Own treats every day as if the disaster is happening NOW. In other words, Athens’ Own is ready for a disaster when it hits instead of reacting to it once it occurs, and they work to combat anthropogenic disasters and generate an informed community. There are multiple ways to do so, and one such way is to promote sustainability, or the ability to conserve a community’s opportunities and resources for future generations. By promoting local businesses and community involvement, and reducing, reusing, upcycling and recycling materials, Athens’ Own works every day towards this goal.


Fortunately, I got the opportunity to observe some of these practices in action. After I spoke with Alyse, we headed over to Jackie-O’s brewery, where I became acquainted with their “grain process” and met Constantine, the steward of Athens’ Own. Jackie-O’s, after using their grain to make beer, gives the spent grain to Athens’ Own to distribute to local businesses for compost and livestock food. Alyse even mentioned that some was used on Jackie-O’s pizza! I found it fascinating that every aspect of the grain’s life cycle is utilized to benefit locals and the environment at large. So far I am enjoying learning about their processes and I have met some great people. I still have much to learn and I can’t wait to work the Farmer’s Market and learn about the methods out in Steward. I only have two weeks before I head back to New Orleans, but I’ll soak up as much information as I can while I’m here.


– Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern

Dec 192012

Athens’ Own Winter Newsletter

December 2012

In this issue:

  1. Wellworks holiday gathering
  2. Website and Web store
  3. New Products
  4. Other updates
  5. Intern news

 WellWorks Holiday Gathering

Athens’ Own attended the annual WellWorks Holiday Gathering on December 18, 2012. This was Athens’ Own’s 5th year attending this event. Constantine and Alyse were present to hand out samples of Cheese, Beef, Cashews, Coffee, and Jalapenos. The cheese was a crowd favorite!

As usual, Athens’ Own did not provide disposable cups for coffee samples. When we are asked why not, we explain that our company aims to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce waste production, and prioritize reusable resources. Constantine helped rally others to the cause by explaining that we are in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, and there are no disposable cups left. So if you want coffee, you should carry a cup with you! Nearly everyone who we discussed this idea with was interested and proud of our efforts to be more environmentally-friendly with our business practices. This also opens up a future opportunity for educational materials and/or signs, explaining this idea for anyone interested.

Athens’ Own at the WellWorks Holiday Gathering

An eye-catching display of products and Alyse’s efforts at artistic design made our table “the best it has ever looked”, according to Constantine, a sentiment echoed by many of the evening’s guests. We handed out nearly all of our flyers and brochures, and engaged many guests in discussion about the company, our products, and our practices. With a two-person staff this year, we were able to take turns visiting the other tables, saying hello to our friends and colleagues, and sampling other business’s goodies.

Athens’ Own will be evaluating the ongoing success of this event by monitoring our website traffic, online store orders, and public dialogue throughout the next few weeks and onward. We hope to continue our involvement with the holiday gathering in future years. We’d like to extend our sincere gratitude to WellWorks for inviting us to participate and for putting on such a great event!


Website and Web Store!

Athens’ Own Products for sale online now!

Athens’ Own officially launched our re-vamped website this month, including an all-new online shop. Using WordPress software, our new site includes information pages, community forums, blogs, polls, and newsletters. More updates to come include profile pages for our team members, multimedia pieces, interactive presentations, and videos.

The online store, powered by the Woocommerce plugin, currently has all Athens’ Own products available for sale. Customers can pay via paypal, credit/debit cards, or check, and we can ship to all 50 states, with the possibility of international shipping in the future. We have already received a few online orders, and we hope with added advertising, that volume will increase quickly. This new venture also opens up many possible future opportunities for interns, employees, and volunteers.

Visit the store here: www.athensown.biz/store

New Products:

– Now for sale at Seaman’s in Athens, and through Athens’ Own at the Broadwell Hill Learning Center.

– Bulk quantities available, contact constantine@athensown.biz for more information.

– Tasting notes coming soon!

Ohio Honey – Now available from Athens’ Own!

Other updates-

  • Dancing Tree distillery (Visit their site Here) has recently released their Coffee Liquor, made with our own Dawn Chorus Coffee! This local business is focused on the community food network, and we are pleased to be a part of this new product and their business family!
  • Miles McFadden has recently returned to the Athens’ Own booth at the Farmer’s Market, and has been sharing his cooking skills with our patrons. Along with our usual Dawn Chorus Coffee, Cheesy Grits, and Steel Cut Oatmeal, we have been serving Miles’ hamburgers with Ohio potato chips (from Shearers), and Frog Ranch pickles. Our friend Patricia at Adam’s Rib has been working with us to make cooked greens, which are a delicious addition to our famous grits. Thanks to Patricia and Miles for their cooking expertise and great additions to Athens’ Own!
  • Kaitlyn Bernaur, a long-time friend and contributer to Athens’ Own and the Broadwell Hill Community, recently gave our products their first ever professional photo shoot. Kaitlyn’s photos will be appearing soon as our featured product photos on the new website and store. Thanks again to Kaitlyn for her passion, talent, and outstanding dedication to Athens’ Own!

Intern news:

Mathew Learns about packaging Athens’ Own products

Athens’ Own intern Mathew Roberts returned this semester to continue his work with us. Mathew has been spending his time both doing hands-on learning and at-distance writing for various audiences. Some hands-on learning this semsester included packaging coffee and cashews, picking up grain from Jackie O’s, and making deliveries to various Athens’ Own Partners. Mathew’s writing this semester included a published profile piece in Ohio University’s College Green magazine about Constantine and Athens’ Own, as well as several strategic communications documents and team reports for Athens’ Own internal use. We are glad to have Mathew as a member of our team, and are looking forward to continuing to supplement and enhance his education through internship learning opportunities.

In other intern news, we are hoping to increase intern involvement with Athens’ Own throughout spring semester. We have been advertising via flyers and online postings, and welcome all interested applicants. Please check out our intern site (www.interns.athensown.net) or send an email to internships@athensown.net for more information.


 Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Athens’ Own Team!



This newsletter was written and published on December 19.2012, by Alyse Carter, Athens’ Own Liaison/Public Information Officer.

Dec 192012

Report: Newsletter

The farmer’s market was another hot-spot of activity for the Athens’ Own team. I gave a brief report on my recent visit to the Do The Math! Tour. In talking about the divestment plan activated by the students at Ohio University, we noticed that many of the participants of the event have common big ideas, but are too separated. With many people deeply involved into different organizations all working towards a healthier and sustainable world, why aren’t these teams working together? Yet, many of the people I met on the trip are in pursuit of doing just that. The first direct connection was with the President of the student coalition for the Sierra Club, Caitlyn McDaniel. I was able to share contact information with her to form a partnership on the way back to Athens from the DTM! tour. Luckily enough, Constantine introduced me to Loraine McCosker, the advisor for McDaniel’s leadership in the Sierra Club. She invited me to the Sierra potluck dinner on Thursday (12/6) to network with more people. In doing so, we hope to create a co-sponsered film-showing (Athens’ Own and Sierra Club). The goal of this showing would be to gain membership to the Sierra Club OU student coalition while providing information on academic activism through an internship with Athens’ Own. Overall, this was an outstanding public relations and networking day for Athens’ Own. This is one more positive step in the evolution of our newly-developed initiatives. After a successful project, we will be hoping to develop a graphic of the “interwoven web” of Athens’ Own.



Meeting with Loraine to discuss our work and exchange information was my first step in networking with the Ohio University environmental studies community. I have discussed Dr. Debatin’s environmental journalism course, but he is a Scripps professor. Thanks to Constantine, I was able to be introduced to an amazing person and an amazing opportunity. Loraine forwarded me to Dr. Dabelko, the coordinator for the environmental studies certificate. It took me little time to commit to this idea because of my personal holistic goal to “Emerge deeper into the sustainability, environmental and local food community culture”{ recent update from (11/27/12)}.  I have thus far contacted both Loraine and Dr. Dabelko for meeting again. It’s been a successful semester to this point because I feel like I am more knowledgeable about the Athens’ Own mission and history.  I’ve dedicated a large amount of time hoping to recruit more students to join this work. Most of the feedback seems to stem from not having enough time. While I feel that the lack of time can be an issue for most people, I personally thrive to open up time for Athens’ Own each week at minimum because this is a lifestyle I have a STRONG passion for. It is a shame it has taken me so long to solidify this following for the remainder of my time in Athens, but I am glad I have still this year and at least one final year to develop my work and the Athens’ Own  team.


-Mathew Roberts, Athens’ Own Intern

Published 12/19/12

Dec 032012

What to expect from an Athens’ Own internship

The Athens’ Own motto is: “Vision, act on your vision, network your actions”. We have a vision of creating an educational internship program, which helps to address some of the “teaching to the test” gaps of the traditional education system, and to nourish a thorough understanding of sustainability and resilience. Communicating our methods of teaching is a particularly challenging task, since our internships are based on situational learning, and do not have a written plan. It may be unusual, but it is set up that way intentionally.


We have both very high and rather low expectations for our interns. We expect above-average, enthusiastic and active participation from our interns, (you won’t be just fetching coffee for your superiors), but the main intern assignment is quite basic: just be present and learn. If you have a sincere desire to learn, and demonstrate that desire, the internship is really quite simple. This paradox presents an array of challenges to the students we mentor. Specifically, how do we claim to have an advanced program, but have no program guidelines? If you are confused about our program, don’t worry, that is the point. It is all related to our goal of building resilience.


Here’s what we know: The world needs outstanding, skilled people who are willing to fight for a better society. This doesn’t mean our interns will be “fighting” by blocking tanks or tying themselves to ancient oak trees, but it does mean that they will be constantly, tirelessly, and optimistically working to make change. Whether that comes in the form of writing letters, organizing events, educating the public, or working with special organizations is entirely dependent on each intern’s skills and passions. Students should come to us and say: “Here is what I know, here is what I can do, and I want to learn more. How can I help?” More importantly, they should know that just by being involved, they will expand and evolve that category of “what I know and what I can do”, hopefully to the point of self-generating a future job.


How, then, does an intern approach this unique situation? My suggestion is to step into the mindset of a “resilience recruit”, headed to boot camp. We are already proud that you put on your uniform and made the decision to get up and go there. So now your question is, “Where am I going and what am I going to do?”. I’d wager that if the answer came back as: “You’re going to build resilience”, you still wouldn’t have a clue. Here is where the simplistic part comes in: We think that is a good thing. Considering the very definition of resilience is “postitive adaptation to change”, what better way to test your resilience than to step into a realm where you aren’t sure what will happen next? By approaching every day and every task with an openness and a sincere desire to learn, what you get back will be a hundred times greater than what you put in.


So you arrive at your first day as an intern, at “resilience boot camp”, and your supervisor claims you will be working in a soup kitchen today. I know, I never mentioned anything about working at soup kitchens in my earlier descriptions of this internship. So how are you going to progressively adapt to this situation?  You could start by finding out where to get an apron, where and when to be there, and what the guidelines are for volunteers. Then you could make an effort to talk to everyone you meet, take notes, and gain as much as possible from the situation.  At the end of the day, you learn that tomorrow you will be helping Constantine pick up grain from Jackie O’s. How are you going to prepare for and respond to that situation? These are only just a few examples, but you get the idea.


Of course, resilience is not limited to a personal readiness to jump in and make the most of what you’ve got. However, it’s nearly impossible to truly understand resilience without a healthy awareness that the unknown is out there lurking, and you not only can but should be ready to stand up and take on anything. And when you get outside of your comfort zone,  you will find that is where the most intense learning takes place. So we understand that this experience is new and strange, but we are here to help you get the most out of it, and to help facilitate the direction you will go next, once you get out there and start blazing the trail.


My name is Alyse Carter, and at the time of this writing, I was the Internship Coordinator, and the Liaison/Public Information Officer for Athens’ Own.

Dec 032012

Ready for day 1?

I am about to start an internship with Athens’ Own, and as of now, I don’t have any idea what I am getting myself into. Knowing from the application and the website that this will not be a “traditional” internship is both intimidating and exciting. When I think about an “internship” in the traditional sense, I picture a young, college-age person trying to gain experience in their field by working for a company, but usually only being allowed to do small jobs, such as getting coffee for the higher-ups, or filing paperwork and so on. While I suppose this type of internship might allow you to meet people and network, it doesn’t seem like the kind of experience that would help one strengthen his or her education and skills. In that way, a “non-traditional” internship with Athens’ Own sounds like it might give me the opportunity to really get involved and make a difference with this company.

At the same time, I am a bit apprehensive about what exactly will be expected of me. Since I have only a limited understanding of what Athens’ Own does, I am unsure of how I should approach my first day. From my classes, I have a basic understanding of what Resilience is, but I am eager to see how Athens’ Own defines it, and specifically how Constantine and Athens’ Own are working to make Athens a more resilient community. I did have the opportunity to visit the Broadwell Hill Learning Center, which was an eye-opening example of practical and sustainable off-grid living. I am excited to learn more about that lifestyle, although I can see how it would be tough for most people to adapt to. I also know that Athens’ Own is a food distributor, and that they make many of the products they sell. I am looking forward to learning about the sources and the processes involved in making the products, and to try them myself, of course! So while I feel that I do have some base knowledge of Athens’ Own, I know it is only the tip of the iceberg, and I can’t yet imagine what is below the surface.

I think that I am lucky to have this opportunity ahead of me, and the open door in front of me to begin this experience. Although I am not sure what I will find on the other side, I am resolved to open it and take those first steps. I hope I am prepared for what is on the other side, and if not, that I can think on my toes and adapt to anything that is thrown my way. If the definition of resilience is “Positive adaptation to perceived change”, then this internship should give me a great chance to test out my own personal resilience, while working towards it on a bigger scale.