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.