Friday, June 24, 2011

What does community mean? The Co-Op

   We have often talked about what it means to be a part of a community.  What should we expect from one another?  I have always thought that, as Kennedy said, "...our most basic, common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  We all breathe the same air."  We are facing difficult times and I do not think that we can face them alone, sequestered from one another.  As a community, we can be bold and accomplish much.  There is strength in numbers.   This past week, we have talked and we have listened to one another.  We have seen the each others' needs and we have seen each others' wants, for ourselves and for our children.
   This past week we talked about health care.  We talked about education, both grade school and college,  and we talked about child care.  We talked about jobs, and owning homes, and retirement.  We talked about war and peace and supporting local economies and the storms in Clemson have made us wonder about global warming and the environment.  This past week has been a week of conversations about what really matters to people.
    So, now that we know the problems, what are the solutions?   The Co-op idea came up.  A group of people, each having needs and wants, yet each also having something to offer to their neighbor.  This is not so much the beginning of a new yet tradition, yet a continuation of an old one.  The thing that makes us Americans and moreover, what makes us humans is our responsiblity to one another; the knowledge that though you skin is a different color or you worship a different or many gods in different ways, you, as I am, are human.  I am my brother's keeper and what gives me faith, what gives me hope, is that he too shall believe that he is mine.
   We believe that if we take care of the small problems, the big problems will be that much easier to deal with.  We believe that if we take care of what is right in front of us, those things in the distance will not be so  scary.  The future is not so scary if the present is not so bad and there is no darkness that we cannot all walk through together.  So, ask me about the co-op.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Beginnings...kinda

Where ever I go, whatever I do, I find a lot of differences in the landscape but the people are basically the same.  There are a lot of people who are just good  with a sincere desire to help and Clemson is no different.  As we embark on a new chapter of The Waiverly Project, it has been the goal to get in contact with people and share our mission.  People have been very receptive and incredibly helpful to what we are trying to do (even if we cannot always explain it well).  So, I am very busy beginning a compost pile here in beautiful Clemson, SC and dedicating this week to talking to more and more people about what we would like to do.  I left here in 1999, but it is amazing how quickly and easily one can slip back into a good community.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Couldn't Stay Away...

My last post (about 3 weeks ago) was all about quitting and walking away from this whole thing.  The major thing that I noticed since then, was that even though I made all of the right arrangements to leave it all behind and get on with my life, I have found that the connections that I have made are hard to sever and even having been a part of this thing of ours for a relatively short time, it is hard not to want to form new connections.

While sitting on the dock, by the lake, in Clemson, SC  I recieved a text from a young man who we had helped some weeks ago.  When it was cold and miserable outside in Atlanta, we had given out Starbucks cards so that people could go in and out of Starbucks, get a cup of coffee, maybe a snack while they got warm.  The main thing was that we did not just want to give people cash. With thse cards, we could refill them on-line where ever they were.  We had given this young man one and he had only used it a couple of times as it only had 10 dollars on it, but it did not take long for that money to run out. 

The heat has been oppresive lately and this has been terrible for the homeless.  Today, approaching summer, air conditioning can be just as important as heat is in the winter.  Rain falls hard and all year round.  Being exposed to the elements in any season is dangerous.  I had forgotten that or ignored it.
On the other side of that, while taking in my surroundings and doing a bit of relaxing, I saw that while I was sitting and talking to people about various things, the same concerns were arising.  Every conversation, would without trying, come to these big and small social, environmental, and economic issues.  It is apparent that people have a desire and the will to do something, but lack the outlet.

One must do what they are interested in and I cannot see myself just working in an office anymore.  I have tried to get out, but it all just pulls me back in. Leaving the state of GA did nothing to get rid of my desire to help and I have noticed that even Clemson has at least one homeless person. So, I am back and I hope that others will join me as I work to do some good things.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The birth of Guudwagon...Social Entrepeneurism is a van.

OK, the main problem that The Waiverly Projects have been having is transportation.  There is so much to do and MARTA just is not cutting it.  As ideas often do, when we thought about getting a vehicle, the idea evolved.
We have begun a number of initiatives in the past year and a lot of them have worked and some have failed or stagnated, mostly for want of transportation.  Recently, we have begun to get involved in the food cart battle here in Atlanta, with the thought of doing something like that, along with Winnie Mae's as a stand alone restaurant.  
So, we thought of Guudwagon (working title).  There are so many things that we can do with a little movement and so many more things we can bring to life. 
We have been collecting/recycling cans, but getting them to and fro is a bit of a hassle...Guudwagon.

We have been collecting garbage and yard waste for composting, but getting it around has been a task...Guudwagon.

Those are the things we have BEEN doing.  Let's look at the things we WANT to do.
1. Use it to deliver meals to youth this summer via S.O.S.  (Share our Strength)  because a lot of young kids only get to eat when they are at school.  We would like to be able to deliver healthy lunches to these kids over the summer.
2.  We are looking to outfit it with mobile Wi-Fi and computer access for those who do not have it.
3.  We will be selling coffee, ice cream, fruits, vegetables....etc. etc. from local producers and using part of the proceeds to go to charitable organizations.
4.  Whatever else we can come up with!  

Have ideas?  Let me know!

Social Entrepeneurism is the wave of the future for Non-profits.  The idea is simple.  We will no longer ask you for your money, we will earn it.  Imagine some of the largest Fortune 500 companies acting as for profit businesses, but giving their profits to charitable organizations.
This past week has seen devastating tragedies in the Pacific, and people have begun to mobilize to help.  Still, if there were companies solely dedicated to earning money for these instances, wouldn't it be a lot simpler?  a lot more immediate?  Guudwagon is a start!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brunches, Movies, Good Times, Good Causes

On Saturday, April 2, 2011 we will be screening Miss Representation, a powerful new film by Jennifer Seibel Newsom that shows how the role of women in the media needs to change in order to give our daughters a more positive view of what they can be.  We will be showing it at Youngblood Art Gallery at 632 N. Highland ave. at 7 pm.  This is a small showing.  Food and beverages will be served. Please donate at the right to attend.

We have a Brunch on the Beltline on the March 19, 2011  (  Sponsored by Dreaming Cow Creamery.

The Hunger Games begin on April 1....(

We have a lot going on in the months of March and April and we hope that you wil join us for some of these events.  The profits and proceeds will be going to some great causes.

 Please join us!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Working through setbacks...

What is life without adversity? This week has seen a lot of setbacks, accidents and problems will always arise and the spectre of doubt will raise its ugly head.  Still, it is moments like this that cause me to look at what I have to be thankful for.
I used to work at a restaurant with an older gentleman named Gary and whenever I would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "better than most."  It was his standard reply.  It never seemed more applicable than it does now. 
I spent all of Saturday in the hospital after having been hit by a car that morning.  I left there the next morning with a couple of scrapes, two cracked ribs, and a cracked jaw.  Nothing was broken all the way and there was no permanent damage.  I will be fine in a few weeks.
I cannot help but think about the people I passed who were going in as I was being wheeled out.  For me, it was merely a formality that I was in a wheelchair.  I can walk just fine...I am doing better than most.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Miles to go...

We have set the goal for the Nationwide Bike Ride at $3400 by May 1.  Basically, it is a dollar a mile.  I hope to exceed this amount by leaps and bounds and be able to make contributions to some really great and needy causes.  The basic theme of this and every other endeavor that we do, is that we are all in this together.  Each cause is staffed by workers and volunteers who truly want to make a difference in the world and everyone needs as much help as they can get.  We have miles to go!  As of this writing, we have received $12 in donations, starting in Charleston, SC, that puts us in N. Charleston about 12 miles away.  Every dollar given gets us one mile closer to Seattle!

Causes we support (so far):
Seattle Childrens Hospital

Please give so that we can make this ride!
Take a moment and click on the Paypal link at the right and help us get a few more miles down the road!
Tell us about a cause you support and that you would like us to help bring awareness to!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food! Now that I have your attention...

I am very excited for the next couple of months because I feel like I can contribute more with the things that I am best at.  I have been working in and around the food service for quite some time.  I have done everything from bar back to restaurant manager.  I have worked in every kind of restaurant from fast food to fine dining.
   The next couple of months will see us doing a lot of events to raise awareness for some really great causes.  This is what I do.  This is what I am trained in and is that not what it is all about?  It is about doing what you are best at in hopes that what you are best at, where you are able to contribute, is able to help out someone.

   So this month, we have a BBQ with the guys at Atlanta Pro Bicycle.  They are sponsoring our Nationwide Bike Ride and have been a tremendous help with our aluminum can drive.
  Next month, we are doing a wedding for one of our biggest supporter.  This includes the bike themed cake and a southern menu for dinner. 
   We will also be doing Brunches on the Beltline in March and April.  Atlanta is such a beautiful city this time of year and we are taking every opportunity to get out and enjoy the sun and all the hard work the city has put into creating a beautiful belt line for people to walk and ride comfortably in downtown Atlanta. 
   Finally (at least as of this writing, we would like to do so much more) we will sponsoring showings of Miss Representation.  This is such a powerful documentary about the media representation of women. 
   We need to see more positive roles for women in the media.  As the tag line says, "You can't be what you can't see".  We have decided that it is something that we have to spread it as much as we can,  so we are sponsoring showings in Atlanta, Seattle, and Clemson and doing yes, more food!
   These are some great events and we would love for people to attend.  The proceeds go to the Nationwide Bike Ride, supporting breast cancer awareness, alzheimers and diabetes research, as well as an end to homelessness and overall, the healthy lifestyle that comes with a life of cycling and just plain getting in shape.
   So what is it that you do?  How can you contribute?  We would love to have people volunteer their skills for our fundraising so please contact us if there is something that you would like to do.  Or just take a moment to make a donation.  Get involved! Contribute!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The long spaces...

On May 1, I am leaving for a nationwide bike ride that will take me and anyone else who wishes to join me across the United States, from Charleston, S.C. to Seattle, WA along the lower half of the U.S. for nearly 5000 miles.  My problem with long rides has always been the long spaces in between "things". 
   I was always fascinated with triathlons and especially the Iron Man, where they would have long stretches of riding where it is nothing but lava fields and baking sun.  Those times, I thought, would be the times when one would have to really be a competitor.  Those were the times when I thought that people would have to lock down and focus on where they were going and how fast they needed to get there.  Those times, were the times when it would have to be more mental and emotional than anything else.   It will be those long spaces, when we are separated from the pack and the only ones we are competing against are ourselves, that we will have to deal with and that we are dealing with now, in day to day life.
   That is what we are dealing with now...the long spaces.  These long spaces are the times that we have to do what needs to be done to get to the finish line.  So, I have not been posting for a couple of weeks, but rest assured this is in preparation for the things to come.  The compost is cooking, we are working out and getting in shape for the nationwide bike ride, the A.I.R. project with documentary  is underway...these are the lava fields before the finish line.

Friday, January 21, 2011

seattle bound...

In a couple of weeks, I will make my return to Seattle.  I have to admit that I consider Washington state my adopted home and I was sad to leave there a year or so ago.  When I left, Week on the Street and The Waiverly Projects were just a glimmer in the back of my mind, but I had put them aside for concerns of family and a new life in the south. 
I am going back for personal reasons, and I had debated about whether or not to address this, but those reasons tie into everything that we are trying to do with these projects.  My sister lives in Seattle.  She is the third oldest of my eight brothers and sisters and is mentally challenged.  For as long as I can remember, she has moved around on her own and done whatever she wanted.  She is a survivor and to be so given the physical and mental challenges she has faced is inspirational. 
So, because of her, we are going nationwide and tackling all new issues as well as the ones with which we started.  She has been homeless and lived on the streets of L.A. She has been immersed in a system that has warehoused the homeless and the mentally challenged. 
She is beginning a battle with breast cancer, something that I could not even imagine dealing with.  So how many people, homeless and otherwise have had to deal with all of these issues, all at once.  To imagine the strength and bravery that it takes to deal with one of these issues, let alone ALL of them, all at once. 

So while I am in Seattle, I will be doing a Week on the Street.  I will look at all of these issues, and most of all I will visit my sister and support her in any way that I can.

So please check in with this blog as we look at these issues and help us make a difference.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The A.I.R. Project

One of the things that we have tried to impress here is that there are very few differences among us.  We are all one and united by, as Kennedy said, the fact that we all breath the same air.  This past week we came across some amazingly talented individuals.  They reside at the shelter at Peachtree and Pine and spend their days creating great works of art.  There is no mistaking their talent and love for their craft.
  Gregory was painting at his station and took a few moments to talk to us about what he does. I was lost in his knowledge of printing and painting.  An older man, his knowledge of computers was phoenomenal and impressive.  More than his knowledge of computers, the calm measured meter of his voice and also of his painting was amazing.  He just sat there, talking.
   He let us know some of the things with which they were struggling at the shelter.  The problem, as I understood them, were that they were easy fixes.  We are going to take this on as a project, calling it the A.I.R. project.  The Artist In Residence program or A.I.R. is going to do one thing and one thing only, get some of those artists out there.  We are going to do what we can to get these people out there so that people can see there is no separation.  So, when you walk into the local Starbucks, you may see a painting there and I ask you to take a look.  You may see an artist there, painting, and without know his origins, see that he has created a thing of beauty.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Progress, progress, progress....Happy New Year!

I am happy that I could not post last week.  We have been doing so much and we have been working on so much for this coming year that I have been too busy to write.  I am glad not to have the time!

Over the holidays, we had our aluminum can drive.  I like the idea, the theater, so to speak, of using small things to do bigger things and we got what we wanted with this drive.  From Christmas eve until the day after New Year's, we collected over 200 pounds of cans. These are cans that will not go into landfills and proceeds are going towards all of the "housekeeping" measures for The Waiverly Projects, like printing and mailing.

Our next initiative is an Art Show, showcasing the talents of people who are dedicated to making a difference in the world and those talented homeless men and women of Atlanta.  It will be an opportunity for people to show that even though they are in different circumstances, they are still able to bring some beauty into the world.

Speaking of beauty, we are working very hard on the winter phase of the Art in Agriculture project.  We are converting an abandoned lot in Doraville, GA into beautiful art installation, with murals, decorated containers, and sculptures with a practical purpose as well.  The profits, proceeds, and produce will go to helping those in need!

The next "Week on the Street" will be during the final week of January.  The Month on the Street was exhausting, so this week will be a lot less taxing, but still hopefully we will be able to do some good.

We are all looking forward to a great 2011 and getting to know more people and doing more good things!

Now that we have the new year off and running, I will updating this page a lot more and I hope that you will check back often!