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Do Good, Be Good
37 minutes | 16 days ago
#44 (Rebroadcast) Running for City Council with a 360 View of the Community
Becky Daggett has been a volunteer leader in the Flagstaff community since she was an eleven year old organizing fundraisers for the Humane Society. After a career that spans the sectors of art, economic development, environment, education, and politics, Becky is now running for City Council in 2020. We discuss her experience as an ongoing volunteer at an elementary school, her perspective on serving across sectors, the concept of network weaving, the role of the arts in community building, and her inspiration to run for political office. Mentioned in this episode: Becky Daggett for City Council Network Weaving Playback Theater Asset Based Community Development Podcast Episode about Creative Placemaking in Local Government ArtPlace Creative Placemaking guide Theatrikos Theater Flagstaff Arizona Killip Elementary School For a full transcript of the episode, read below: [music] 00:06 Speaker 1: This is Do Good, Be Good. The show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:27 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. My guest today is Becky Daggett. Becky directed the very first show that I ever got to have a role in, at our local community theater, Theatrikos. You’ve been hearing a lot about Theatrikos since my last guest was Michael Rulon. Becky and Michael were also co-directors of the last show that I got to be a part of, Legend of Georgia McBride, and I just love volunteering with Becky, especially at the theater. I’ve also known her through various different organizations. As you’ll hear in this episode, Becky has been involved across the spectrum of different types of organizations in our community here in Flagstaff, Arizona. We will talk about it, but in case it’s unclear, Becky Daggett is currently running for elected office as City Council member for Flagstaff, Arizona. She has previously worked in nonprofit leadership for organizations such as Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, Flagstaff Family Food Center, Flagstaff Arts Council. She was also the executive director of the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy, which is a public charter school that we talked about way back in Episode 16 with Deidre Crawley. Currently, Becky is the manager of a campaign called Outlaw Dirty Money, which is working to add a constitutional amendment to the 2020 ballot in Arizona. 01:52 ST: You can see why I wanted to interview her. So let’s jump into it. As with many of my guests, I started by asking her if she was an active helper as a kid. 02:04 Becky Daggett: We would do odd jobs for people. Well, actually, we went door-to-door and we offered to do odd jobs, and I think people gave us money just to make us go away. 02:16 ST: Just to clarify, you were doing odd jobs in order to then earn money to give to the Humane Society? 02:22 BD: Correct. 02:23 ST: Nice, we did something similar in college, which we called… Which I came up with, called Rent-A-Rugger. 02:29 BD: Yeah? 02:30 ST: ‘Cause I played rugby in college. And so that was our fundraising strategy, was we made ourselves available to clean out people’s garages and pick up firewood and do other things. 02:41 BD: And did they take you up on it, or did they just give you money? 02:44 ST: They did, because, unlike a precocious child, we were 20, very strong young women who were capable of doing lots of heavy labor. 02:53 BD: Yeah, I was just cute. My mom took me into the Humane Society to give them the money that we raised, and they thought it was so cute that their community outreach person… They used to have, and I don’t know if they still do, but they used to have a weekly television show called Pets On Parade, and they had me come on that with a huge check that they made, and I gave it to her on air on pets on parade. 03:21 ST: That’s amazing. 03:21 BD: Yeah, that was kind of… It was unexpected. I just thought I’d be raising money and give it to them. 03:29 ST: Did it affect how you felt about doing good when you became a promotional opportunity? 03:41 BD: [laughter] I didn’t really… I don’t know that it even really phased me, because this friend of mine, I called her Maychon, her name is Mary, and she grew up in Flagstaff. We did all kinds of things to raise money for different causes, when we were both in middle school. We started a dance studio in our garage in Mountain Air and taught tap and ballet and jazz to little children. And muscular dystrophy. Wallace and Ladmo was a show, they would have kids do carnivals and do different things to raise money to research muscular dystrophy, and we would hold carnivals. 04:30 ST: You weren’t just looking for your next chance to be on TV? [chuckle] 04:34 BD: No. No, no, no. Well, I did go on the Wallace and Ladmo Show twice, but that wasn’t why I did it. I promise you. [laughter] In fact, I was really uncomfortable being on TV. Now I’m all self-conscious and I think my face is getting red. 04:57 ST: I was gonna say, are you just remembering now that you were self-conscious? [laughter] 05:03 ST: Well, I’s interesting, ’cause I was actually just recently talking to some college students about what it meant to do good, and can companies do good? If the company is getting good brand recognition out of it, does it still count as doing good? Are there any ethical concerns about having them come and do some charity work and then using it to promote their brand. And it was fascinating, ’cause the kids definitely split half down the middle around which ones were like, “If it’s good then it’s good. And we might as well get people to use whatever resources they have, as long as the outcome is good. The ends justify the means”. And then others were like, “No, if it’s not coming from a fully authentic place of doing good with no extra incentives then, poison the well of goodness.” 06:00 BD: It’s interesting. I worked for Flagstaff Family Food Center and Kenny Construction gives, I don’t know if they still do, but they used to give their employees a couple of hours off a week to go and volunteer. From the standpoint of the food center, I feel like we took advantage of that. Not take advantage, but I would take their picture and we would talk about them on social media but I’m confident that that’s not why… 06:31 ST: You would leverage that opportunity. [chuckle] 06:33 BD: Exactly, exactly. But I know that their employees went there because they just believed in the cause and they enjoyed volunteering there. But the big corporate events where everyone’s wearing the t-shirt and they’re… 06:48 ST: And they’re paying the wall for the 12th time. 06:50 BD: I think photo-op opportunities are… That gets into the questionable range. 06:56 ST: I wasn’t really thinking that 12-year-old you was… [laughter] 07:00 ST: Just to clarify. 07:01 BD: I know, I come on this podcast and then I’m defending all of my… 07:03 ST: Publicity hound. 07:04 BD: Adolescent. [chuckle] 07:06 ST: It was all for this future run for City Council. 07:10 BD: I gotta find that video. 07:14 ST: Though I am curious about the fact that it had to do with animals, and I know that seems like it’s been a consistent thread of things that you’ve had a passion for. So, do you remember how your awareness or care for helping the critters originated? 07:29 BD: I think it was a mixture of my natural personality and just what I was drawn to, and my mom had a big heart. And I would often come home with stray dogs, cats. I know she wasn’t excited about that but she would help me find a home for them, or sometimes we kept them. 07:50 ST: It’s interesting, ’cause I find that a lot of the people who have learned to help in some way, to them it’s like, “Well what else could I have done? Like, I had to do something”. And then, it’s interesting when you do find people who found a way to not help in that way. [chuckle] Like even with you bringing home the strays, like I had a cat that I was feeding at the bus stop, it was a stray cat. But we left it there. [chuckle] We kept beating it at the bus stop and then eventually it started literally following me home. It would walk from the bus stop to my house, and then we were allowed to start feeding it in the garage. And then… [chuckle] 08:32 BD: Did you keep it? 08:33 ST: It eventually moved in in retirement, with its partner. So we had Lucky and then Oreo. But it was definitely… There were years and years there where it still was an outdoor stray cat, but we were one of the people feeding it in the neighborhood. 08:52 BD: Interesting. When I would come up to Flagstaff on the weekends and my friend Machon was here, we would get together and roam the streets and the forests of Mountain Air and we were like the pied pipers of dogs, because we would just gather this bunch of dogs behind us, and we would… And the dogs would like hang out at my house over the weekend, I don’t know where their people were, but there was one dog named Yorick, I even remember his name, who would show up at my house on the weekends, waiting for Machon and I to get there and play with him. 09:32 ST: Was that a name you gave him or did he have a tag so he had a… 09:33 BD: No. Yeah. Well, I don’t know that he had a tag. I think that some other neighborhood kid just told us his name was Yorick. So, maybe his name was Yorick, I don’t know. 09:46 ST: He was known as Yorick, to some of us. [laughter] 09:52 ST: So, your mom wasn’t the one bringing the pets into the house? 09:55 BD: Uh-uh. 09:57 ST: You were the Pied Piper of pets. 10:00 BD: Yes. 10:00 ST: But she was the pushover who let you keep them. 10:04 BD: Yes. Yes. Yeah, my mom was very sweet that way. My mom was a softy when it came to hard-luck cases. 10:16 ST: Were there other ways that that showed up in your life growing up? 10:21 BD: Yes. She was the person who other people in the neighborhood came to when there was a problem. I remember one of my neighbors, some young woman that they knew, showed up at their house. She had run away from home, and I can’t even remember where she lived, but I remember my mom taking her shopping for clothes and then buying her a bus ticket back to where she had run away from. I don’t even know how my mom came in contact with that young woman, I guess the neighbor said, “Hey, she showed up at our house,” or, I don’t know. So, yeah, my mom was a big softy in that way. 11:01 ST: So, switching gears for a minute, in the last, let’s say, five years, ’cause I know you are involved in so many different things. What are one or two of the things that you feel like you’ve gotten the most joy out of being involved in? 11:17 BD: For the past couple of years, and currently, I read to kids at Killip Elementary, and I would say that that is the thing that brings me joy. Man, like laughing with a classroom full of kids, I think that’s the best thing ever. 11:38 ST: Are there any particular moments that stand out to you from that? 11:42 BD: Yeah, there’s one just the other day. I have this book called The Book With No Words. 11:47 ST: I love it. 11:48 BD: I mean, The Book With No Pictures. Yeah. So, it makes you say all kinds of funny things and make faces. And I was reading it to a first grade class, and they were on the ground rolling around laughing. And one little kid, who must have heard this, said to him many times, said, “This is getting out of hand”, as he’s giggling. Like, “That’s right, it is getting out of hand. It’s a awesome.” 12:14 ST: “And I’m letting it”. [laughter] 12:14 ST: “I’m taking it up to 11”. [chuckle] 12:21 ST: Was there anything in reading to kids that came up that surprised you? 12:25 BD: Looking back, I don’t know why it surprised me but I would, at the end of each semester, I would purchase a bunch of books, a selection of books and then let the kids select one for themselves to take home, and discovered that for a lot of the kids that they didn’t have books at home. And so this might be their first and only book that they’re taking home, and that surprised me. And also how excited they were to get a book. I remember this one little girl just clutched it to her chest and said, “This is for me and I get to keep it?” And I was just like, “Oh, I’m gonna cry. I gotta go.” 13:08 ST: So, I’m curious, because you have a unique perspective having worked in different issue areas. So, having done things with animals, with the environment, with humans, both kids and adults, in the political realm. What am I missing here? [chuckle] All the other things. Oh, and in the arts. And in the arts. 13:34 BD: Oh, yeah, there’s that. 13:35 ST: Yes. So I’m curious because I think of those particularly from a volunteering’s perspective, or from a trying to recruit other people to get involved perspective, as being quite different in a lot of ways, I’m curious what you see as the similarities and the differences when you’re in these different sectors. 13:57 BD: Well, I think a common thread might be just caring, just caring. So, through my work with Friends of Flagstaff’s future, caring about special open areas that were really in danger of being sold and developed and the care about the urban trail system and what that lends to this community. So, with growth management, just recognizing that without some kind of planning and just left to itself, a place that you love can become unrecognizable if you are not working to keep it something that you love and recognize. And then I went to the city and worked in economic development, I had always been a supporter of local businesses. And so to get to know… I mean, that was so exciting, to get to know what was inside some of the buildings in town. So, not retail stores but other businesses that are doing other things that I had no idea that they were doing. And meeting these people who started these companies from the ground up and who were employing people, and so caring about their future and caring that they were able to stay in business and hopefully grow. 15:24 BD: I think it doesn’t automatically make sense but somehow I made it make sense. Then I go into education and work with teenagers and run a school which was so completely different than anything I had done before. It’s like non-profit management on steroids. From there to the Flagstaff Family Food Center and the Flagstaff Arts Council, Grand Canyon Trust. A common theme is that everything that I did was in service to what I saw as a higher purpose, something that I really believed in. I don’t think, since I’ve been a teenager that I’ve had a job where it was just a job and I just went in and I did my job and I went home. I’ve often wished for a job like that, that I could just leave at the office door and then come home and not think about it but… 16:24 ST: But you wouldn’t be. 16:26 BD: No, I’ve just never been drawn. 16:27 ST: Even if, like, organized the thing on the side. [chuckle] 16:31 BD: I’ve never been drawn to stuff that I don’t feel passionate about. 16:36 ST: Yeah. 16:36 BD: Yeah, if I had a coffee shop, I would have kittens in it. Which I’ve thought about often. 16:43 ST: [chuckle] There was a whole movement for a while when social enterprises was really picking up as a trend, where libraries were getting coffee shops that were a social enterprise to help get people in job skills and do other things. 16:56 BD: I could see me doing something like that. 16:58 ST: Yeah. Well it’s interesting, because here I am going back into the silos and telling you that all of these are separate entities, and yet it’s not really how I think of it. I think of always from the community as a connected whole. I love this term and I’d love to study it more, of the idea of network weaving. How do we intentionally weave and strengthen the weave of the networks that create the fabric of the community? 17:26 BD: Oh, I love that. 17:27 ST: Yeah. 17:28 BD: Where did you first hear that? 17:29 ST: I don’t know, but I follow I think a LinkedIn page on network weaving and I’ve read a couple of books about it. It kind of is also related to the asset-based community development movement. It also relates to this tech term of “the network effect,” which is like if you’re trying to start a social network online or even just a software business. Your value, and in their case they’re thinking the actual for-profit value of the company increases the greater the network is and the more connected nodes within the network. So like a new… That’s why it’s so hard now to have a new social media platform actually gain any strength, is because we have certain ones that have become entrenched and we may not like them all that well but they have the volume and the connectedness that makes the network valuable. But I think that’s fascinating from the community building side too. If you were thinking of the same thing of trying to create the network effect of, how do we intentionally connect all these different non-profits and community entities in a way that strengthens the overall whole and increases the overall value? 18:52 BD: I love that. You’re blowing my mind. [chuckle] [music] 19:01 ST: Just a quick break to remind you that the show notes for today’s episode are available at dogoodbegoodshow.com, including a full transcript of the episode and links to anything that we’ve mentioned today. You can also join the conversation about the show in our Facebook page, facebook.com/dogoodbegoodshow. If you have questions or suggestions for me about how to improve the show or possible guests, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s email@example.com. As we rejoin the conversation, we transition to talking about how Becky’s varied career inspired her to run for political office. 19:48 ST: Is that part of why you decided to run for office, because of your experience in these various places? And then how does that impact what you’re hoping to do and what kind of change you’re hoping to effect as a elected official? 20:04 BD: It definitely did. I just started thinking about all the different things that I’ve been involved in and all the ways that I think that the city needs more attention paid to it. And then also currently I’m working for Outlaw Dirty Money. And so being back involved in politics and how I love it, I thought, “Maybe I should run.” Because I never thought that I would run, because I was always the person who was pushing the elected person to get something done and I just never thought that I wanted to be that person on the other side. But now I know that I have all of these skills from all these different areas and I see the community from a 360 vantage point and can take all of those perspectives into consideration when making policy. 21:08 ST: So, pivoting slightly, partly ’cause I was just listening to a podcast about creative place making, and since you worked with the arts and you have your involvement with theater, I’m curious how you see the space for arts and cultural organizations being part of things like economic development and responding to climate change. 21:33 BD: It’s like you read my website. 21:37 ST: I actually didn’t. [laughter] 21:41 BD: Whether people know me or don’t know me, let me say this, I’m a huge supporter of arts and culture of all types, for all ages, in all its forms. Also, having been in economic development and always having that mindset of, “How can we creatively do economic development? Not like it’s done in other places, maybe taking good ideas from other places, but how can we do it creatively here?” And I really think we’re missing an opportunity to use arts and culture as an economic tool, because it’s already demonstrated itself to be an economic driver, we just don’t recognize it as that. We tend to see arts and culture as kind of a frivolous afterthought, or like the icing on the cake. And I think that Flagstaff is positioned to make it a focal point for economic development efforts. 22:45 ST: Yeah. On the podcast I was listening to where they interviewed one of the people who works at ArtPlace, which is a program I’ve followed for a while, but they were talking about a city that had created an Artist-in-Residence position within the city government. And the Artists-in-Residence was brought in to all different types of meetings and project planning they were doing, to basically just see if there was a way they could lend their artistic perspective to it. And one of the ones that they ended up doing was that they were struggling of getting enough community input on things like planning and zoning, and just general, “Where should we put a street?”, that kind of stuff. And they always… You typically do all the same things, you send out an electronic survey, you maybe have a public meeting that the same five people attend. [chuckle] 23:40 ST: And they’re tired of it and they’re like, “We’re not actually hearing from the people who will be affected by this.” So she came up with this idea that they converted an old truck into a popsicle truck and took it out to the neighborhoods that were gonna be affected. And they had literal popsicles, they weren’t bait and switching people. [chuckle] 24:01 ST: So people got popsicles, but while they had the popsicle they said, “Would you mind answering just these three questions about a project that’s coming to your neighborhood?” And so it was a chance for them to have this positive interaction with people in the community. 24:15 BD: And connect with people, possibly for the longer term, that they hadn’t been connecting with. 24:21 ST: And if it’s a popsicle you could literally print the website or something on the popsicle stick. So if they wanted to… [chuckle] 24:28 BD: That is awesome. 24:28 ST: Keep involved they would know where to go. 24:31 BD: Oh, I love that. 24:31 ST: I know, right? That got me all energized again just thinking about, “There’s so many creative possibilities that we’re not even thinking about.” Is there anything in particular from either your work with the Arts Council or your volunteering in theater where you directly got an idea or took a method that works in that space and brought it into a completely different space? 24:57 BD: I was invited to direct a couple of mini performances at a criminal justice conference. So these were judges and police officers and probation officers, it was just a mix of people. And a writer met with individuals in our community who had had some interaction with the criminal justice system, and she wrote short plays based on their experiences. So then what I did was I found actors to come in and play those parts. And the people in the audience didn’t know that they were actors, until we eventually told them. But they just got up and talked about a reason why maybe they offended a second time or something that they learned after being incarcerated, or just something about their life that led them to have that interaction with criminal justice. I know that at least for the people that I heard from at that conference, it was really impactful. 26:09 ST: That’s awesome. I kind of wanna steal that idea for another event I’m doing in May. 26:14 BD: Go ahead. I didn’t come up with it. 26:16 ST: Well, I was actually already thinking something similar. I’ve been thinking about like, “How do I not only give people an experience but also reflect back to them what’s happening in their own organization or with the people they work with, that they might not be seeing?” Or the power dynamics create a situation, which it sounds like that was happening in the criminal justice scenario. They never would have necessarily gotten to hear those words in that way if you had asked people to come in and tell it directly, whereas because you had this layer of filter in between and you were able to then have actors come in, there isn’t that actual power dynamic happening. 27:00 BD: Yes. 27:00 ST: Yeah. And there weren’t risks to the people. 27:02 BD: Right. No one ever knew. 27:03 ST: And that would happen in a large organization too, where they say they wanna know how the frontline employees feel about this new direction they’re going in as an organization, but it’s so hard for them to get an actual accurate hearing of that because it’s like that old organizational science thing where people are affected… People who are being observed are affected by the fact they’re being observed, so you can’t get the actual information. Does that make sense? 27:35 BD: Yes. Absolutely. 27:36 ST: Okay. 27:37 BD: And you know what, you’re kind of describing and I did a workshop, I took a workshop, at Theatrikos taught by Moan Hen’s mom, who is world-renowned in Playback Theatre. And essentially what that is, well, what this workshop is, I’m no expert in this, but what we would do is describe events in our lives to another person or to a group, and it didn’t have to be an emotional experience. It could be, “I went to the store and this is what happened.” And then we would do exercises to play that back to the person. And it got emotional because… Well, just the stories that people were telling, even if on the face they didn’t seem that emotional, I think seeing it played back to them, seeing someone else play out your story was very impactful. 28:39 ST: The podcast is called “Do Good, Be Good”, what does it mean to you to be good? 28:44 BD: Just to be kind, and to have good motives. To live your life in a way where you’re not trying to get one over on someone, you’re just living your life out to help other people and to enjoy your life so that you can demonstrate to other people some joy in life. 29:10 ST: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Becky. Thank you for listening to “Do Good, Be Good”. For show notes on all of our episodes visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. Thank you, Becky, for coming to my home studio to record and share your story. Today’s episode was edited, produced, and everything else by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Don’t forget you can always subscribe for free to this show in any podcast app of choice, be that Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, any of them that you like. You can just click the button to subscribe and you’ll get each episode as soon as it is released. Music in this episode is Bathed in Fine Dust by Andy G. Cohen, released under Creative Commons Attribution International License, and discovered in the Free Music Archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom signing off. [music] The post #44 (Rebroadcast) Running for City Council with a 360 View of the Community appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
24 minutes | a month ago
#58 Speaking Up for Yourself and Others
Newly elected to Town Council of Clarkdale, Marney Babbitt is navigating what it means to her to lead, to serve, and to find her voice. In this episode we learn more about her election journey as well as her stories about growing up in a service-oriented family and how she learned to speak up for what she believed at a young age. Mentioned in this episode: Town of ClarkdaleGirls on the RunFlagstaff Leadership ProgramDo Good, Be Good’s Facebook PageDo Good, Be Good MerchWant to start your own podcast or blog? Check out Fizzle 0:00:00.2 Marney Babbitt-Pierce: I’m probably not gonna show up to a ton of town events in a pink sparkly tutu, unless we’re doing things where pink sparkly tutu is really appropriate, but I can still wear my pink sparkly tutu on the inside. [music] 0:00:20.7 Speaker 2: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 0:00:41.5 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. The voice you just heard, is our guest for today, Marney Babbitt-Pierce. I don’t remember when I first met Marney, but I know that I got to know her when we were both part of the Flagstaff Leadership Program. That’s here in the town where I live in Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona. Marney now lives in Clarkdale, which is a beautiful small town that’s between Flagstaff and the city of Phoenix. I interviewed her there in Clarkdale sitting in a park underneath a golden cottonwood tree, and of course, we were at a safe distance from each other. It was fairly quiet, [chuckle] but you will hear some background noise from trucks and rustling leaves, which hopefully is just some nice fall ambience. I’ll let Marney introduce herself. So let’s go ahead and jump into our conversation. 0:01:36.3 MB: My name is Marney Babbitt-Pierce, and I am a member of the Town Council of Clarkdale, a health coach with an internet start-up and a volunteer in my community. 0:01:48.8 ST: I see you as someone who’s always involved and active in helping people. Is that something that’s always been a part of your life? Do you remember the earliest times that you were helping out? 0:02:00.7 MB: Yeah, I mean, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved. My father has been or was an elected official my entire childhood, my mom when I was little, volunteered a lot for the Red Cross, so some of my earliest memories are continental flooded when I was little, and she got up in the middle of the night and left to go help house people. 0:02:22.2 ST: When your mom was volunteering for the Red Cross, do you remember maybe a specific time when you woke up and you found out that something had happened overnight, and your mom had had to go in the middle of the night to help out? 0:02:36.5 MB: I don’t remember a specific instance. 0:02:39.3 ST: The way you talked about it, I wondered if it was like, you know, that time that you wake up and you think, I just want my mom. Where is my mom? Why is she off bothering with other people? 0:02:51.0 MB: No, and it’s really interesting that you asked that, but I think that that was part of the understanding in our family, it was like, we take care of each other and each other in our community, and sometimes that means that we don’t get exactly what we want in this moment, sometimes you might want mom right now and you get dad or you get whoever is around in the moment, because mom is out taking care of other people, and that is a job that only she can do, and that was a really powerful thing to learn in a couple of ways, that our community is really important and lots of people need us, and that we can all learn to make do with what we are given in that moment, but then also that there are some of us that are uniquely suited for some roles, and there’s a lot of value in that. I don’t think that that’s something we talk about in the world enough and recognize for people we talk about, anybody could do your job and you’re replaceable and… Yeah, sometimes that is true, but also you are uniquely suited for that role when you are in the right place, when you are living from a space of your values, from a place where you feel comfortable and confident, you bring unique values to that role. And we need to celebrate that. 0:04:09.2 ST: I love the idea of thinking of your mom as, going out and doing something that she is uniquely positioned to do, and having that as a role model at an early age. I think we often do talk about how our own moms are uniquely suited to be there for us and to be our moms, but being able to see them as these multi-faceted human beings that are also there for other people or also have special talents that they bring to the community, to their important work, I think that’s really… That sounds great. 0:04:42.6 MB: They were both super active in the community and in giving back, and they took us when it was appropriate, I attended a lot of campaign events as a small child, and that really shaped who I grew into. The first year I’m eligible to run for president is 2024, so I still have a chance. 0:05:00.7 ST: We’re watching. [laughter] 0:05:02.5 MB: Probably not gonna happen, but that’s what I wanted to be when I grow up. I wanted… Ironically, to be the first woman president. 0:05:11.1 ST: Still an opening. 0:05:11.2 MB: Still an opening, which is really disappointing. I wish that I had wanted, if I could, have… Not that I have any control over it, right? But if I could manifest it, if I had said I wanna be a woman president, would we have a female president now? I don’t know, I don’t know if that works that way. 0:05:25.4 ST: You are the reason, you’re holding us up. [chuckle] 0:05:27.0 MB: I don’t wanna give myself that much power, but I do believe that what we wish for and so… Yeah, but I’ve always wanted to be involved in public life. I volunteered from a really young age, Flagstaff, when I was in high school, had a Youth Commission, and so that was an opportunity that they gave for kids to get involved and host conferences and just kinda test it out and see what it’s like, and I really loved it. I’ve always been active in things, I wasn’t in student government in high school, which is kind of ironic, but beyond that, definitely been involved and definitely taking the opportunity to just step up when there were things that needed to be done. So I grew up in Flagstaff, I left for my last couple of years of high school, wanted to see the world when your family has lived somewhere since 1886. There’s a big wide world out there and it’s exciting and it’s intriguing, and I got out there and I got to experience it, and I got to live in five different states and see what else was out there and realized I just love Arizona, I mostly love the weather, but I also love the people and the community, and now I get to be back. My grandfather grew up here in Clarksdale. His house was actually right over there, which is pretty cool, it’s a radio station now. 0:06:42.0 ST: Makes up for really good radio. 0:06:44.1 MB: Yeah, right over there. All you people out there who can’t see it. But it’s two blocks from where we’re sitting in this gorgeous park that has been preserved by the community, and so that’s really cool that there’s history, and that I get to be a part of it and I get to help move the community forward. 0:07:03.7 ST: So how would you describe Clarkdale to someone who has never been here? And who may or may not ever get a chance to visit? 0:07:13.9 MB: Absolutely. So Clarkdale is the first master plans community in the State of Arizona. It was founded as a copper mining town, so the mine was up the mountain in Jerome, the smelter was here in Clarkdale, and Clarkdale was established to house all of the workers. Isn’t that cool that they used to build towns to house people? The mine closed in the ’50s and a lot of people left, they’re still a small community population of around 4000 now, we are situated along the Verde River, which is one of the only stream rivers in the state of Arizona that flows year round, so there’s a ton of beautiful outdoor opportunities there. We are situated a little bit west of Sedona, Arizona, so from a lot of places in town, you can see the beautiful red rocks. So copper was a huge part of our history, we are now leading the way in the Arizona wine industry. Our environment here is perfect for growing grapes, so we have a two-year college that has one of the only viticulture and analogy programs in the country, so people come from all over to earn their degrees, then that’s where my husband works, and he is the director at Yavapai College and helps with that program and the future of the wine industry in the Verde Valley. 0:08:35.1 ST: Very good. I’m sure people who haven’t been here are going to wanna visit at this point. 0:08:39.9 MB: We’ve got our doors, we’ve got wine, we’ve got pastries… 0:08:42.1 ST: They have really good pastries? 0:08:43.9 MB: We do. 0:08:44.0 ST: Really good food, I think, for the limited number of restaurants, they’re good. [music] 0:08:55.1 ST: Pausing our conversation for a moment to remind you that a transcript of today’s episode is available in the show notes at dogoodbegoodshow.com, as well as links to anything that Marney or I mentioned. If you are interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, check out Fizzle. That’s where I learned the technical skills that were necessary to bring you this story. You can find my referral link in the show notes. With that link, you will get a month of courses coaching and community for only a dollar, and you can see me there. Using the link will also support the show. Now, back to my conversation with Marney, where we jump into talking about being true to who you are, especially at work, including when you love the color pink and you have a desire to wear tutus and fancy hats. 0:09:48.7 MB: And I was super fortunate when I was Council Director of Girls On the Run to be leading an organization that was what they valued, that’s what we professed, like come to the 5K as you are. Whatever you feel in your heart, put that on the outside, and that’s how we all showed up, and it was great to get to come, in a pink tutu all the time and have glitter and mostly just everything pink because that’s how I feel on the inside. And so I wanna show it on the outside. And when I was at Girls On The Run and really happy and not looking for a job anywhere else, somebody else in another department asked me if I would be interested in considering a role with them, and I jokingly, but sort of seriously asked, can my email signature still be pink? And they said No, and I was like, Well, you know, that’s actually at this point in my life, silly as it seems, something that’s really important to me, like I wanna live my values every day, I wanna get up and share who I am with the world and part of that for me is having a pink email signature because you know, immediately that I’m pretty joyful and I don’t take myself too seriously. 0:10:56.5 ST: So I’m curious, since you did just run for public office, were there any photos that surfaced or did you surface them of you in neon tights and a tutu and put that on some campaign posters? 0:11:08.0 MB: You know, I didn’t. Not in that specific way, but I did think a lot about my campaign signs, because how often do you see campaign signs that you can’t read? So it was like, Okay, so legibility is super important, what do we wanna put on there, what do we not wanna put on there, and then color choice. Man, if I had my way, they all would have been bright pink, but that probably strategically wasn’t the best decision and so we ended up with turquoise, which I felt really good about, ’cause it’s still joyful and it speaks to Arizona, it speaks to where we are, but it wasn’t bright pink, so sometimes you gotta speak to your audience and decide what’s important, but at the heart of it, how can you make sure you still get to be you and feel you, and… 0:11:54.1 ST: What aspects of you do you wanna bring to this moment. That wasn’t a question. That was just a reflection. 0:12:00.6 MB: Oh, okay. I was thinking… 0:12:02.6 ST: That’s how I’m framing it. In choosing the turquoise rather than the pink, it’s like both of these… I’m not not being myself, but I’m bringing a version of myself to the moment that fits with the need of the moment. 0:12:15.7 MB: Right. And that can be attractive to a wide range of people, that’s an important thing for me in public service, is making sure that I am serving my whole community, I am in a non-partisan position, I am a member of my community, I am here to represent everyone whether we agree, disagree. That’s what’s important to me is making sure that their voices are heard. I need to be somebody that feels approachable to them, so you know that I also love hats, like really love hats, I have an incredible hat collection, and I wear hats often. I had to decide when I was taking my professional headshot for the town to not wear a hat, because I wanted to make sure that I was approachable, so that is a part of me, and people who know me and people who see me out, will be like Oh, she’s wearing a hat, but I can still be approachable, we’re in a photo that’s gonna be on a town website where that people are gonna have no context for who I am, that could make me less approachable. So I’m probably not gonna show up to a ton of town events in a pink sparkly tutu, unless we’re doing things where a pink sparkly tutu is really appropriate, but I can still wear my pink sparkly tutu on the inside. 0:13:31.1 ST: I asked Marney if there was a time she had to step outside of her comfort zone. 0:13:36.2 MB: And this is a tiny example, but I think it speaks to the larger, which is when you run for public office, you have to go get petition signatures. And so I had to go knock on the doors of people that I didn’t know and had never met and say, Hey, I’m a candidate running for office, would you be willing to… Or not even a candidate. I want to be a candidate to run for office, would you be willing to sign my petition so I can get my name on the ballot, and that is vulnerability right there, because I haven’t been in office, I didn’t know what issues people were excited about, are they gonna ask me to have questions that I can’t answer? Are they gonna say no? And you get to the point where you’re like, Okay, the worst thing that can happen is they’re gonna ask me a question that I can’t answer, so I will tell them that I will do some research and I’ll come back. Or they’re gonna say no, and I’m gonna say, Okay, thank you, and I’m gonna move on with my life. But in the moment, asking somebody that you don’t know for something seems really, really hard, but after the first couple of doors and the first couple of people telling you no, or I’m not a registered voter or whatever, then you’re like, Oh, that wasn’t so bad. 0:14:45.3 ST: It seems like you succeed a lot at this moment in time, I mean, just won election and having gotten married and living a beautiful life in Clarkdale, I feel like… Yeah, we need to show that you are also human who also fails sometimes. 0:15:06.8 MB: If I think about disappointment and how it has stuck with me, I was working in higher education and I knew that I needed to get out, it wasn’t fitting my needs anymore, I heard about Girls On The Run, I thought it was the most incredible organization, I knew I wanted to be involved, and I started applying for jobs across the country, and I thought I was the super most qualified came to be, I had tons of experience in Youth Programs, I had non-profit experience, I work really hard, and I was so excited and I applied for four jobs, as Girls On the Run councils across the country. Did not so much as get a phone interview, and I was devastated because I was like, this organization fits me perfectly, and I know that this is how I wanna go out and impact the world, and so I moved back to Flagstaff into my parents house, which at the time was pretty tough after having owned a house and gone out and been a real grown-up to say, You know, I’m gonna come home, I’m gonna lick my wounds, I’m gonna figure out what’s next, because what I think is what’s next is clearly not the universe’s plan for me. 0:16:14.7 MB: And then the Girls On The Run of Northern Arizona ended up hiring, so that was a pretty cool opportunity, and of course, failures don’t always work that way. But that moment of disappointment is that opportunity to stop and think like, Okay, I’m experiencing a ton of disappointment here, what is that about? Why am I disappointed? And for me, it was because I found this thing that just seemed like such a perfect fit, the values aligned so beautifully. I knew that that’s where I wanted to be, and so it was like, Okay, so figure out how to get there, how do you strategize, what do you make that next plan to be? Sometimes when those failures are coming so quickly, you don’t have time to stop and think it’s like, Okay, this was the idea, this part worked, this part didn’t work, we’re gonna move forward into the next, this part and this part, and keep moving forward, and that’s actually the beauty of it, right? That’s the resiliency. The challenge gets to when you have that failure and you aren’t able to move forward and you let that stop you from moving forward. 0:17:23.3 ST: I feel like you’re also… I love the strategic way you’re talking about it, but I’m also envisioning you the whole time sitting in your childhood bedroom trying to look at this with your adult strategic eyes while also not beating yourself up about the fact that this has to take place from your childhood bedroom, which I think a lot of people can relate to right now. Because there is a lot of people who have had a reason why they’ve had to move home or move in with someone else or something right now. 0:17:52.1 MB: And you know, I loved that time in my life, I loved being close to my parents, I got to spend an incredible amount of time with them, and learn more about them as humans, and ask questions about things. I grew up believing this, how did you teach us that, how did you instill that value in us? And I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I had still been in Texas or Tennessee or South Carolina. And maybe I would have called my mom and asked about it, but not the same way that we got to over dinner, and I am so grateful. 0:18:26.4 ST: Alright, we’re gonna jump ahead so that I can piggy-back on what we had been talking about about the campaign and you were knocking on doors, you were trying to get the petition signatures. I’m wondering from the time you started, not even sure if you could get on the ballot, through the campaign, was there something that was positive, but also very unexpected? 0:18:50.7 MB: You know, I had a person email me and asked me a question that I truly hadn’t thought about, and it really made me think differently about the whole situation, and the question was, when there is a vote coming, and you are the only person who is gonna vote differently from the rest of the council, how do you feel about that? And I thought, man, what a great thing to think about, because I can see how that would be so challenging. And then I thought back to all the times in my life where I have had the opportunity to stand up and say, “You guys can all go do that. And I’m not interested.” And how valuable that was for me. So when I was 15, the FUSD School Board had a really big conversation about whether they were gonna allow vending machines to have soda in them in schools or not, and that was something I felt super passionate about. Again, have always been super involved in health and wellness, and so I wrote a letter to the editor of the Daily Sun, which is the local Flagstaff newspaper, and I said, “I don’t think that we should have vending machines with soda in them in schools. If people want soda, they have other places they can go get it, but we as a school need to be setting the standard and saying “We have evidence to show that this is not beneficial for people, and so we’re not gonna provide it””. 0:20:20.5 MB: And I got attacked, and I got attacked by other students, another student wrote a letter to the editor in response, and I remember thinking like, I’m trying to do the right thing here. And it was a really great lesson and you can do the right thing and not everyone’s gonna agree with you, and you can move forward, and that’s okay. So now at 34, when there’s a council vote, I can say with confidence and not worry too much, because I know what I value and that I’m representing more than just myself in these situations, and so I wanna be the voice of all the other people who elected me, who feel the same way that I do, and that’s even more powerful if I can do it for myself, “Wow” to be able to do that for other people too! . And if we think about what has happened in the last nine months of the world and what we have seen, it is more vital than ever to stand up and say, That’s not okay and I am not going to participate. 0:21:26.1 ST: The podcast is called Do Good, Be Good. What does it mean to you to be good? 0:21:31.0 MB: To be good means to live at your values, to know what’s right in your heart, and to do it, and to do it in a respectful way to those around you, but not to listen too deeply to the naysayers. You gotta do what feels right for you, and not take how other people view things more seriously than how you view things. We have to be comfortable living out in the world. There’s an awesome Theodore Roosevelt quote, and he talks about an arena and being in the arena, and there’s a lot of people in the stands and they’re gonna be hurling insults and they’re gonna be throwing things at you, but they’re not in the arena with you, and so make sure that you are only really valuing what those other people who are in the arena with you, those other people who have dirt on their face and under their fingernails, what are they saying? And how do you feel about what they’re saying? ‘Cause they’re always gonna be doubters, and they’re always gonna be loud voices, and learning how to shut them out and listen to your heart and trust yourself. 0:22:48.8 ST: Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. For show notes on all of our episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com, and if you want more of behind the scenes stories and insights, check out the show page on facebook.com/dogoodbegoodshow. Thank you so much to Marney for sharing her story. And to subscribe to the podcast for free, so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, search for Do Good Be Good in Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Music or your podcast app of choice. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G. Cohen, released under Creative Commons Attribution international license, and discovered in the free music archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom signing off. [music] The post #58 Speaking Up for Yourself and Others appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
37 minutes | 3 months ago
#57 Fusing a Love of Food and Science
Abby Chan is a dietician and business owner in Flagstaff Arizona who believes that building community is core to what she is doing in her work. We discuss her inspiring grandparents and great-grandparents as well as her love of science and food and her vision for her company, Evolve Flagstaff. Evolve (Abby’s business)Evolve EatsAbby’s article about diet cultureAbby’s article about fitnessJonathan Netzky’s company NexVegThe Importance of Non-Exceptional Female Role Models in STEM from Flagstaff Festival of ScienceThe Power of a Positive No by William UryDo Good, Be Good’s Facebook PageDo Good, Be Good MerchWant to start your own podcast or blog? Check out Fizzle Full Transcript Below: [music] 00:06 Speaker 1: This is Do Good Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:27 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. My guest for today is Abby Chan. Abby is a dietitian, and she is the co-owner with her partner, Brian, of a company called Evolve here in Flagstaff, Arizona. With Brian being a physical therapist and Abby being a dietitian and a chef, Evolve is perfectly suited to take a holistic approach to health, and they offer a range of services to help people, either addressing health issues or who are athletes trying to build strength, or just anyone who’s trying to get or stay healthy. Personally, I am currently taking advantage of their Evolve Eats Service, which is a meal service where I am getting four delicious meals every week so that I don’t have to cook myself and I can make sure to eat some yummy vegetables. In today’s conversation, we get to know Abby a bit, understand her back story and where her ethic of doing good for the community comes from. 01:25 ST: We’re also really building on the conversation from last week’s episode by talking about organizational values, starting a business, how to build a team that carries those values into their work, we don’t go as fully in-depth in Abby’s views on health promotion and being against diet culture, but she has some amazing resources, she’s written a lot about health on her website, as well as sharing tips and strategies on their Instagram. I have linked to those resources as well as everything else that we mentioned in the show notes. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Abby. One thing unique that I saw that you were doing, you were still teaching online, but then you were sharing any sales from that with another small business who also had to be closed. 02:16 Abby Chan: Yeah. So we are really lucky in the sense that our business is really diversified, we have a lot of different branches in it. So obviously, we have the gym, and then we also have our clinical services, and then we also have our Meal Prep company, so I think the fact that it is so diversified, it allowed us to be a lot more resilient. Granted, yes, it was really hard in the pandemic, and especially in the beginning, it’s so scary, but I think the hardest thing was that we had such a hard time just finding resources because obviously the leadership from top down is lacking, and I think there were just so many questions. It’s a novel virus, no one’s ever been through this before, so I think that that was a thing of how can we help our community and how can we help our community in the sense of other businesses who are closed who maybe can’t do any part of their business anymore, or that has significantly had to decrease and how can we at least from our classes or webinars or things that we’re doing, how can we at least maybe shift some burden even if it’s just like getting coffee for everyone. 03:25 AC: It may not be a lot of money, but at least it’s some sort of thing for morale, and I think it’s just a beautiful thing to bring the community together in saying that we actually are in this together and it’s up to us to support each other because no one else will. 03:38 ST: I mean, that motivated me to buy a class pack when it was my salon suite. I was feeling really bad for them and wondering how Kayla was doing and… Yeah, and luckily, they are back operating. I just thought that was so, so good. And I’m kind of curious how much of this goes into your business planning, but that more holistic approach to business of seeing that we are all in this together, and whether that’s on a downtown business level or community level, or collaborating with other people in your sector, how do you think about that? 04:18 AC: Yeah, I think what Brian and I do, and what we’ve always done personally, but then also business-wise, is that we have a core set of values that are kind of like our guiding light of to help make decisions, especially when things get super cloudy or we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s like, well, let’s go back to our values, so definitely at least, some of my values are community first, always, then that’s definitely Evolve and the Evolve Strong motto, is like what does it mean to evolve strong. And that means not only evolving strong in your body and what you put in your body and how you move your body, but it’s also how are you mentally strong and are you connected in a community and are you connected in that community in a way that’s also feeding you mentally and also physically? To me, it’s just that holistic approach, and that’s kind of where Evolve came from, is can we make our community stronger with these services that we have, so that they can show up better in doing everything that they do in their very specific integrated part of their community, whether it’s their family, their friend group, their job, whatever? So it just this ripple effect throughout everything. 05:26 ST: Okay, I’m gonna jump back for some context. 05:28 AC: Yeah, totally. 05:29 ST: I tend to jump around. I can’t say jump around without thinking of the song Jump Around. 05:35 AC: Yeah. I know. [laughter] 05:36 ST: One question I often like to ask people, like when you were even a kid growing up, were you a helpful kid, did you find creative ways to be helpful? 05:48 AC: I think this goes back so far, it might even be in my DNA, both of my grandparents were immigrants from China, and they owned a Chinese-American restaurant. And even way back, like my great-grandpa owned a restaurant in Kingman, Arizona, so there’s this little town called Oatman, and miners would come down and be hungry and not have food, he would front them money, granted, oftentimes they didn’t pay him back, whatever, but I think it’s just so much so of that, and then even my grandparents, they worked so hard, they only took two weeks off out of the year, which is just nuts to me. 06:27 AC: Their motto was always, how do we help? Because we have so much… Even if it on the grand scheme, like isn’t that much, but we have access to food, we have a roof over our heads. I think they just had so much good will from the beginning, I know that their food distributor from the beginning they were like, “We can’t pay you,” ’cause I don’t know how much money it was for them to get their bulk order food, and so then their distributor was like, “It’s okay, I got it, I got you, pay me when you can.” 06:56 AC: And so I think it’s just this ripple effect of that kind of paying it forward idea that they always had, and how giving they were and then how that then impacted… My dad is also in business too, and how he also runs his business of how do we help all of our employees and how we help their families, and “Oh, so and so needs this, how do we help their kid’s soccer team?” Or things like that, that’s just… That it’s just not about you, and I think that’s where a lot of business gets a little caught up sometimes, ’cause you get caught up in your bottom line, ’cause yes, it’s important, but it’s not as important if you’re not also thinking about other people as well. 07:36 ST: It sounds like you have a lot of business owners in your lineage, so was that always a path that you saw yourself going on as well? 07:46 AC: So at first I was like, “I don’t know… Well I don’t know what I wanna do. I’m an 18-year-old kid.” And so what do you do when you don’t know what you wanna do? You go to business school. I started as an ASU business major. 08:00 ST: I thought when you said that, I was like, “Or you become a psychology major.” [chuckle] 08:04 AC: Or an English major. 08:05 ST: Or an English major. [laughter] 08:05 AC: Or a Fine Arts major. I knew I couldn’t. I was a dancer and I knew I couldn’t be a dance major ’cause I don’t know, my body’s gonna break at some point, so what’s the point of that? 08:17 ST: More practical. 08:17 AC: What was that? 08:17 ST: You were more practical. 08:18 AC: Yeah, a little more practical, and I was like, “Well, I guess I’ll do this.” I didn’t think about it a whole ton, ’cause granted obviously, now I’m a dietitian, so it took a huge different lineage in that sense, but I think that I also have… Not trouble with authority, but I like being my own boss a lot. I did work clinically at the hospital for a while, and it was great. I learned so much there from my fellow dieticians, but I just cannot be part of a huge corporation. 08:46 ST: I can almost see that even just from your Whiteboard Wednesdays like you’re so willing to just go against what the majority of people on Twitter or wherever are talking about. You’re like, “No. Actually, here’s how it really is.” [laughter] 09:02 AC: Here’s here… Yeah, let’s get into some real talk here. Yeah, so yeah, so to me, it was always really important to do the work in the way that I wanted to. Clearly evidence-base, but also in the way that I wanted to and that I thought was actually the most helpful and well-rounded for most people. 09:19 ST: You sort of alluded to the fact that you were like, “Okay, went to school and I studied business, but then I became a dietitian, and so it really wasn’t a very linear path,” so I’m curious to dig in a little bit more as to where it wasn’t just a straight path. 09:33 AC: Oh yeah, it was definitely not a straight path. After my freshman year… Let me back up a little bit. So my dad owns a car dealership, and so that was always the thing, was that my brother was gonna take it over and he loved the car business, was selling cars when he was 14, that was what he did, and I worked there and kinda hated it, and so that was never my path. I went to school in my freshman year, and then the summer of my freshman year, my brother passed away very sudden from an overdose, and that was just a huge time to sit and reflect and be like, “Woah, who am I even really anyways?” And so that was granted, I would do anything for him to be here, but reflecting back, a really cool time that I was actually able to kind of get out of the grind of especially being in an Asian-American family that’s like, “You go to school, you do this, you do it in four years, and here’s your timeline, and if you don’t do it, you’re failure.” 10:33 AC: So granted, they’re really nice, but I think that’s a lot of the mentality. And so I think that that was a time that I could actually breathe and find some space to understand what I actually liked, and I was never really pushed that hard in school. My dad is a single dad. Basically, single dad raising two kids, did an amazing job, but didn’t have time to be like, “You should really try harder in science.” 10:57 AC: And so I knew I had to take science classes, so I was like, “I’m just gonna go to community college and knock those out and then I’ll figure out what I wanna do,” and I figured out that I loved them, and it was so cool understanding the how and the why and how things worked in the body was really the thing that really lit me up, and so then I realized I also really liked food. I didn’t even know a dietitian was a job, so I realized I could be a dietitian, I could talk about food all day. And it has to do with science and its bio-chemistry and that’s cool. And so that was basically that route of kind of falling into nutrition. 11:35 ST: I’m curious where the dance got weaved in here, when were you… Were you dancing while you were falling in love with science? 11:46 AC: So I was a dancer, I started dancing when I was really young, and then my ballet teacher had really bad breath and so I stopped dancing. For some reason, that’s still in my brain, and then I went back and started dancing, I think when I was like… Seriously, when I was eight. And then danced all the way through middle school, high school, I started teaching in high school, little munchkins and taught in college, so that’s where dance came in. I guess it’s always been a part of me. 12:10 ST: I was just kind of curious, as you were talking about realizing the connection between loving food and loving science and those connections, but then it also seems like if you’re doing something that you’re so in touch with your body or you have so much connection to your body, through dance, that that may also bring in that physiology. 12:30 AC: Yeah, I think bodies were always super interesting to me, I would say I definitely didn’t always have a great relationship to food when I was younger, probably because I was a dancer and because I was like, I don’t know, trying to fend for myself out in the world, and yet live in a culture that demonizes most female bodies in anyways as they look, so that was a struggle for me. But I did realize I had shin splints, I had all the things ’cause I didn’t fuel myself correctly, and so I knew that… I saw how much nutrition impacted, how much science basically, nutrition impacted the thing that I love to do my art form, my creative form, and realized that, “Oh, this is a big deal, and this is important,” and even now I like with a lot of my younger… If I have younger athletes, especially females, I’m like, “I know you don’t think this is a big deal, but this is a big deal. We’re trying to get you to do what you love. Forever.” 13:27 ST: Well, and part of why I ask about the dance and wanted to bring that back in is just because I was just listening in on Flagstaff Festival of Science lectures, and they were talking about female role models in STEM and how particularly cartoons in media that are supposed to be adding female STEM characters, they tend to make them very one-sided and it’s like, “Oh, this is the girl that’s the geeky girl that only does computers and doesn’t have any friends and doesn’t do anything other than computers, doesn’t do sports or anything else,” and I think so many people I know and that are in my life have… Are so much more complex than that, and you can be a dancer and love science and be connected. 14:14 AC: Yeah, and I think that people often miss that too, in the sciences of like every scientist that I know is hyper-creative, and I think that that’s often missed, they’re often thought of as very analytical, very cut and dry, but I think to actually be able to think about scientific processes and how a lot of things… I mean, even just the visualization of how a lot of these processes all intertwine with each other, you have to be creative. [music] 14:48 ST: Pausing for a moment to remind you that a transcript of today’s episode is available at the show notes at dogoodbegoodshow.com, as well as links to anything we’ve mentioned. If you’re interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, I recommend fizzle, that’s where I get the support that I need to produce this show. You can find my referral link in the show notes, and with that link, you will get a month of courses, coaching and community for just $1. Using the link will also support this show. Now, back to my conversation with Abby. 15:26 ST: In your world of trying to help people as a dietitian, what are the interesting problems that you are getting excited about? Or something that you’re like, “This system isn’t working for people, and I feel like there’s a way that you could break through and make it work for people better.” 15:47 AC: Yeah, so I think a lot of times, especially in the medical and health realm is that it is so complicated and most of the time providers or practitioners don’t have time, they may have 15… If they’re lucky, 15, maybe 20 minutes to sit down with the patient, go over their labs, do all of that. And so to me, my greatest thing is, can I simplify this so that it’s not so cut and dry. So for example, I had a patient recently who was told to go on this low-oxalate diet, which is basically for kidney stones. And so when oftentimes when providers or things like that, say, you have to go on this specific thing in their minds it says, “I can never have these things ever again, and now my life sucks or whatever,” and so my thing is, how do we put this in context? How do we make this fit for you? And how do we also bring joy in with food? And I think a lot of that too is breaking it down into systems, I think with health and wellness… Wellness if you wanna call it that, whatever it is. People know what they have to do, people know what they’re supposed to. 16:55 AC: People know they need to move, they should probably eat more vegetables, they should maybe drink more water, they should maybe drink less alcohol, they know what they need to do, but it’s the doing it that’s really difficult. And so to me, it’s breaking it down into these little itty-bitty chunks of not looking at all the fancy stuff of optimizing for sports performance, if you can’t even get dinner on the table every single night. So to me, it’s breaking it down, so it’s not like kind of like this very ADD mindset, I think that a lot of people have around it of like, “I have to do that and I have to exercise,” it’s like, how do we start really small and create systems in the sense of breaking this down into looking at just like, “Do you have the basics first?” And I think that’s really helpful in solving people’s problems in the sense of they just feel less overwhelmed and that they’re gonna be okay, and most of the time, I don’t ever deal with health emergencies anymore, ’cause I’m not in an acute hospital setting, so most of the time I’m like, “It’s okay, you’re not gonna die today, so that’s great.” 17:56 AC: So let’s look at that. So I think it’s more of just really listening, counseling, and then creating a system that works for that individual person. That really excites me, thinking about nutrition and wellness in a different way that… You’re familiar with a lot of my work that isn’t focused around these very deity type things, to me is really cool because that actually gives us more of a framework to work with if it’s not just weight and calories, can we look at your sleep patterns and how that’s impacting diabetes or whatever. How we’ve created every single branch in our business is solving a problem. 18:36 AC: So to me, with Meal Prep and with Evolve Eats that was just solving a problem. People would come into my office and say, “I don’t wanna cook, I don’t know how to cook, I don’t have time to cook, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t care, I’m too busy.” So to me, I was like, “Okay, well, you still have to eat some vegetables, so we have to figure this out in some way, shape or form.” It was also based off a specific patient who was super busy, had severe allergies, so that’s why most things are gluten-free and dairy-free, not from a health-ism standpoint, ’cause it’s not healthier to cut out major food groups, but can we make these things balanced and then also make it appropriate for a large variety of people as well. 19:17 ST: I was just surprised how similar it is to one of the things that gets me excited about my work, because a lot of times I might be brought in to an organization to help them with strategic planning, and so there’s a leadership team that has decided that it would be best for the organization to move in a certain direction, and so they’re maybe gonna start trying to measure sustainability, for example, they’re trying to lower their energy usage as an organization, and they want everybody on board with the idea of sustainability, but they also wanna be measuring these certain things, and they set targets and goals and blah, blah, blah, which is all great and I can geek out about that, but it often falls apart because it’s not actually a controllable technical system in which you can just flip a switch and say, “We’re now going to have everybody in the organization adopt this new behavior and turn off their lights when they leave, and all of these things that’s going to result in energy savings.” 20:20 ST: It’s like most of the problems that I work on are what we call in the business wicked problems, and so there are things that usually resolve around people’s behavior, and you can set a goal all you want, but it’s more interesting to me to say, “Okay, if you’re tackling this problem from the top with having clear vision, clear direction, clear targets, but then can you get behavioral change and momentum built on a more micro level with individuals or what will make the change?” Not only force it to happen, but what will actually pull people towards behaving a different way, and that I loved it when you said, “How can we find the joy in this?” You’ve been told you need to change your behavior, they probably actually will feel better, once they’ve made those changes, if there’s a good reason behind it, but in that transition, in making that shift, like where’s the joy in making that shift for someone? 21:26 AC: Right, and I think that’s actually where the counseling or even just more soft science type stuff and skills come in really well with business, and I think that’s where a lot of businesses fall apart, is in that top-down leadership, is where basically they’re like, “We want this to happen, here’s your metrics, here’s your goals.” And they’re not ever explaining or taking the time, because often times, especially in a leadership structure like that, where there’s not a lot of feedback and it’s maybe somewhat authoritative, it’s not A, taking the time to explain why, and then also like asking the individuals too, granted we have a smallish… We have a small company, it’s not smallish, it is small. So we get to have those conversations of what would really light you up, how do we make it so that you have buy-in to this other cause? It may not… This cause may not be 100% your cause, like totally fighting anti-diet may not be yours ’cause you’re a power lifter and you don’t really care, and that’s cool, but how can we start to get buy-in from all these different ways? 22:28 AC: And I think it’s so much so in the leadership of telling them, not telling, but educating on why you’re making this shift and making this change, and then also asking how would they wanna participate in it? I think that’s what often is missing, and especially when I used to work up in a more clinical role, I was just like, “Screw this, you don’t care about me, so it doesn’t matter.” 22:52 ST: But I’m curious to how you’ve also seen those structural supports, because like you mentioned creating the Evolve Eats program to solve a problem for people that… Because the buy-in was there, they were like, “Okay, I’m on board, I’ll eat more vegetables,” but they’re like… “But I don’t have anything to cook them with, I don’t know the recipes, I don’t have the knowledge, I don’t have the time.” so there are so many hurdles for them to overcome to make that shift. And so you were able to come in with a solution, which is one of the nice things about being in business sometimes, is because you can actually just prepare a solution for people, and if they have the means to purchase it, then problem-solved. And sometimes that’s harder leading an organization when there isn’t necessarily just… 23:35 AC: Like a product. 23:37 ST: Yeah, like a product that’ll fix it for them. 23:38 AC: Yeah. 23:41 ST: So as you’ve added complexity with hiring more people, I’m curious if you’ve run into any those challenges with operationalizing those values? 23:51 AC: Oh man, and so that’s also been a really beautiful thing about even just Covid, granted that there’s always some silver linings in things, and I think it actually gave us a lot of time and space that we had a big shift, we lost one of our key employees, and so then hired on a new team, and so with my partner and I, we are on the same page all the time, ’cause we live in the same house, we do all the same things, so we have that, and that’s beautiful and great. But the other seven to eight people are not in our heads all the time and are not in our houses, and so we have had to… And it’s been super fun to actually sit down and create these systems that are very simple and easy, and basically have done it in a workflow of what is everyone’s role, or what is your role in this business, here’s all of your resources to do it, and then I think through the… How do we… Not dictate it, how do we start to really structure that and bring that culture home, we luckily get to have bimonthly face-to-face time with everyone together, where we’re talking about a lot of those things. 25:00 AC: What needs to shift? What needs to change? How do we continue to create this very in-our-gym setting, like a non-diet, non-aesthetic-based thing, and where we actually start to focus on how… So we get a lot of face-to-face time, which is great, and I’m actually working right now on creating onboarding lectures and manual so that all of… So that people can start to look and be like, “I wanna learn more about nutrition from an employee standpoint. If I wanna learn more about nutrition and that process behind it.” Going through and creating curriculum for them to learn that eventually… Well, they won’t have to do as part of their onboarding. Do you have suggestions? 25:39 ST: Probably, I’m like, “Oh, I’m barking.” Well, my only suggestion would be to take all of the amazing knowledge you already have about helping people through behavior change and applying some of the same principles to helping employees adjust to your organization’s way of doing things. 26:01 AC: Yeah, that’s actually… That’s like a good way to put it. Yeah, and I think that’s actually been… Well, and I think part of it too is granted, you learn and you grow. In the beginning, we didn’t do some of these things, and then obviously ran into problems of like, “Why aren’t you doing this right?” And it’s like, “Well, ’cause we never told them or communicated it well, or did it in a way that was tangible and applicable to that person, and meeting them where they were at.” And so that’s another cool thing is that we do get to have just like we review constantly, we have one-on-ones with each coach and each person, so again, it’s a lot of that personal time, but it’s always going back to what do you need to be a better coach? And then, “Okay, let’s look at these values and are you actually living up to these?” ’cause have evolve five pillars of health, and so we don’t review them on what are your healthy behaviors, but it’s like, “Do you understand these, and how are these showing up for you? And are you balanced in yourself so that you can then show up in these other things too.” 27:04 ST: Yeah, one thing I think… I’m sure you know Jonathan Nitschke. 27:07 AC: Yeah. 27:09 ST: Yeah, so I’ve heard him speak before, and as an engineer, he really thinks about more from the sustainability being such a core value of his organization, he was thinking about how do we make it so that if day-to-day operations just happen in a very routine way, if it’s like, it’s just another day at the office, that if we just did that, we would be accomplishing these goals and living out our values. 27:40 AC: Yeah. 27:40 ST: How do you embed it all in the system so clearly that people don’t have to think about it, they don’t have to be like, “Am I making sure I’m doing this today?” It’s like, “Well, if you’re doing it the way it’s just a normal day, then by definition, you’re doing it.” 27:55 AC: “You’re doing it”. Yeah. 27:57 ST: So I just thought that was really interesting. 28:00 AC: I have to look at some of the stuff. 28:02 ST: I’m wondering if you have maybe just an example of a time where you felt like you really got to see EVOLVE working the way you had wanted it to work. I know that was a big moment for me as a business owner, I had this vision, I had these ideas of how I could help people, and then you actually see it the first time when it really works, and having that sense of like, “We’re doing something for people.” 28:30 AC: It’s working. Yeah, no, oh my gosh. I think that I luckily get to see this often, and get to reflect on this often because my office is attached to the gym and off the gym, which I would definitely re-structure if we rebuild. But I think it’s really cool ’cause I get to kind of be a fly on the wall, and I get to hear class is going, and I get to hear side conversations that are just so neat, of people cheering each other on, asking what they’re doing that weekend. These people that have never, ever probably crossed paths in their life, and them actually making friendships and finding community in this space, I think has been the most fulfilling thing. And that’s when it’s like, “Oh, we’re doing a thing.” Which is really cool. 29:19 ST: I’m going back to one thing you said and that I’ve heard you say, which is your emotional connection with food and the way that you connect with others through food, because this episode would probably come out before Thanksgiving. That was something that I loved when I heard you speak, it was about how… You were talking about how… One thing that’s terrible about these very prescriptive diet programs is, what if they take out all the food that connects you to family and connects you to culture, and you’re only doing the South Beach Diet or whatever, so now you can’t eat that famous family recipe at Thanksgiving that goes back generations and is always something that’s been part of your memories of that, so… 30:03 AC: Yeah, I think it’s important in all realms in, especially in relation to food, of how do we get out of this extremism, of this very type A Western American mentality of, “I’m grinding and I’m doing it all… ” and then… Or even like I… I like to think about self-care too, of like, “I’m doing all these things and then I’m gonna take a day and I have to totally check out.” And I think that that’s our unfortunate relationship to so many things in our culture of consuming things, of “I’m minding my budget and then I splurge.” And it’s the same thing with food, of if we do that, we end up in this weird binge purge cycle, and I think too, in the sense of around… If you think of the annual calendar, so we have the holidays, the holidays come, first it starts off with Halloween, and everyone’s like, “Oh gosh, it’s candy season.” And then they have this horrible feeling about it, I think as adults where it’s like, just remember when you were a kid and giggling and running down the street, and the smell of the leaves, remember these little bits that are related to these foods and holidays and very cultural traditions. 31:13 AC: And what does it feel like to taste your mom’s pie or your grandmother’s cookies, and how do we do this in a way that is not so restrictive that you have to white knuckle and keep saying no, ’cause decision fatigue is real, and eventually your brain won’t say no anymore. And then how do we then partake in these things in a joyful manner that isn’t in this binge kind of like even blackout manner to then feel guilty about it, where it’s like, you should never feel guilty about the things that connect you deeper into maybe these like totally familial recipes. Or even in my world, like white rice, people tell you if it’s South Beach or whatever, whatever low carb thing or health-ism thing, like “Don’t eat processed grains.” It’s like, “White rice is delicious, white rice is my family staple.” And so I think in that sense of, can we look at all of these things instead of this very Western mentality of, “I have to check these boxes of having a lot of flexibility, and I’m gonna do these things for myself today, and then I’m also gonna partake in this other way that makes me feel good.” 32:20 AC: Or even if it relates to exercise, how do we get away from this very number rep calorie metric thing of like, “I’m gonna go for a walk today, and I’m not gonna bring my Fitbit or watch or whatever, and I’m just gonna move ’cause it feels good, I’m gonna listen birds.” And know that that counts. 32:37 ST: I think I can see some similarities in even the organizational health. We have an annual retreat, and that’s where you go and pretend to care about each other and repair whatever damage we’ve done to our relationships with each other, and then set New Year’s resolutions or annual organizational goals for the next year, we can cut each other down in little ways day in, day out, or not show respect for people’s time, or not show appreciation or do things that put other priorities in front of our co-worker’s health, as long as we every so often give someone a pin for service or… 33:23 AC: Yeah, and I think it’s the little things to even just saying thank you, it’s so simple of, “Hey, that was a great class, thank you for that.” Or “Thanks for always showing up with the great attitude.” And I think also encouraging yourself to have boundaries as a leader in an organization, ’cause I think that also… And as long as you empower your employees and other people within the organization to also have boundaries, to say “No.” I always tell my employees, I’m like, You can say no to this. I’m asking you this as if you wanna do it, but you can say no, and if you need less that’s totally fine, we’ll figure it out.” 34:01 ST: Have you read the power of a positive no? 34:03 AC: No, I should though. 34:04 ST: Oh my god, yeah, that’s one of the best books, that’s by William Ury. It gives you guidance on how to say no, and so I often have done trainings for employees about how to say no in a way that you maintain a respectful relationship, particularly if it’s a power dynamic, so. Okay, well, I have talked for long enough, I will have to have you back on some time because I have lots more questions for you. 34:30 AC: Totally. 34:32 ST: Since it’s your first time on the show though, I should ask you my closing question, which is… The show is called Do Good, be good. What does it mean to you to be good? 34:42 AC: To be good to me means that I am being good to myself, and not from a selfish standpoint, but in the sense of I’m being good to myself in staying true to the things that I need to get myself grounded so that I can be good to everyone else around me, it just… To me, it means showing up, showing up for yourself, show up for other people, show up. 35:11 ST: Thank you for listening to do good, be good. Thank you, Abby, for being a guest and sharing your story. We’ll have to have you back sometime. I’d love to talk more. For show notes on all of our episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com, to subscribe to the podcast for free, so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, just search for do good be good in your podcast app of choice. Also, if you’re looking for a nice snugly hoodie or a long sleeve or short sleeve shirt with the Do good, be good logo, I am selling merch, and you can find that as well in the show notes. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G. Cohen released under Creative Commons Attribution international license, and discovered in the free music archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, signing off. [music] The post #57 Fusing a Love of Food and Science appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
30 minutes | 3 months ago
#56 Helping Businesses and Living Your Values
Mike Barugel took a new job with the Small Business Technology and Development Center in Charlotte, NC right before the pandemic led to an emergency declaration. As a previous guest on the show, we catch up with Mike about this new work and how he is reconnecting with his passion by launching a podcast called Live Your Values. Mike was previously in episode 27. Mentioned in this episode: SBTDC Charlotte Free Your Time Virtual AssistantsLive Your Values Podcast Bright Side Bookshop Skill Pop Books and Tea PodcastDo Good, Be Good’s Facebook PageDo Good, Be Good Merch Want to start your own podcast or blog? Check out Fizzle Full Transcript below: 00:00 Mike Barugel: To get on the phone with a small business owner right now and them ask you, “What can I do?” and you say, “Here’s the best I got,” knowing full well that that money might run out. As of today, a lot of the money has run out until the next legislation gets passed, it’s just really, it’s tough, it’s hard and it’s almost depressing to be like, “there’s not much help right now, hopefully there’s more coming, but here are some strategies we can help you with in the meantime, and here’s the best… Here’s the best plan of action.” So it’s just… It’s been tough. [music] 00:40 Speaker 2: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder, who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 01:00 Sharon Tewksbury-bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-bloom, and the other voice that you heard at the top of the episode is our guest for today, Mike Barugel. Mike was on our show in Episode 27, which I re-released last week, and I’ve known Mike for a few years now. He is actually my online business manager and the owner of Free Your Time Virtual Assistants. I love working with him because in addition to being great at what he does, he is also someone who cares about meaningful work and living by his values. Recently he launched his own podcast called strangely enough, Live Your Values, which we will link to in the show notes. I actually recorded this with Mike over the summer, so at times we will reference businesses being closed, which have since reopened. However, of course, this being 2020, it’s possible that they have closed again by the time you’re listening to this. Who knows? In today’s conversation, we talk about his new job and how he was able to get back to his passion for helping people find purpose in work. Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. Here is my conversation with Mike Barugel. Since we talked last, you have really changed your working life, what are you doing now? 02:15 MB: I definitely have, so I still do have my business, For Your Time Virtual Assistant, we still have a few core clients that we’re working with, but I have managed to delegate a lot of the day-to-day to my teammate Becca. In the meantime, just over a year ago, I actually started a full-time job with our local SBTDC here in North Carolina, which stands for… It’s very long acronym even, and the name is even longer, but it stands for the Small Business and Technology Development Center. We are essentially a tax payer funded organization, we get funding from the SBA in part, and then the state of North Carolina, and we essentially are a resource for small businesses. 02:56 MB: It was a really fun first year, I actually started in the role of a launch specialist, which was a new role they created, and I got to help maybe 70 or 75 people start their businesses last year, mainly doing that through a four-week cohort program that we our organization design called Taking The Leap. And so that was a lot of fun. I ran, I think a total of five of those programs throughout the first year that I was in the job, and learned a lot just from my own journey of becoming an entrepreneur in learning how to launch my own business, combined with my background in career counseling, which I know, I talked a little bit about the last time I was on, it just felt like a really nice fit to take the job, and then I just feel like it propelled a bit more, and I really learned a whole lot about helping other people launch, so it was a really great experience. 03:44 MB: And then I just transitioned into a new role within the same organization as a general business counselor. And so instead of helping people launch businesses, I’m more focused on helping existing businesses in our community work through challenges, scaling, growing, whatever particular needs they might have, and as you might imagine, in the last month or so, it’s been heavy on helping our businesses navigate the loans and programs that are available. 04:13 ST: Was that transition from the launch position to the business counselor position, I might have gotten those titles wrong. [chuckle] But was that transition already planned before this crisis or is that partly in results of the crisis? 04:30 MB: It happened just before actually, I officially started the role, I think it was like the beginning of March… Might have been end of February, beginning of March, is when I officially transitioned. And then, of course, very shortly after that is when the pandemic really hit here as in the US. So we’re learning how to react and just provide the best support we can when lots of people are very confused and scared and kind of don’t know what to do right now. 04:58 ST: Yeah, what’s the volume you’ve seen in terms of the amount of business owners who are reaching out to you all for assistance? 05:08 MB: State-wide, I think the last month we’ve seen the most number of clients we’ve ever seen. I can’t remember the numbers off the top of my head, but it’s like shattering records essentially. And so all of our staff has been working over time, to say the least, and just… It’s a funny balance. It’s like, we’re kind of having the same conversation over and over again, at least that’s what it feels like. But it’s… Everyone’s circumstances are a little bit different, so it’s kind of this balance of trying to understand the unique situation the client feels like they’re in which they may be depending on their industry and their size and the funding they have available, but the end result or the end suggestion is really the same, and that’s essentially, for most of these businesses, it’s like, understand what your options are, what cash do you have access to right now, and if that is not enough, then we can talk about what loans and grants and whatever is available and apply for those just to see what you have available. 06:10 ST: Wow, have you had any contact with any of those 70-ish businesses that you worked through that program with as launching as new businesses? 06:20 MB: There’s a select few, usually the ones that were more engaged in the class would be the ones that I have continued relationships with, and few have reached out asking for advice about what loans to apply for, what they might qualify for, some sound more panicked than others, others seem okay, and maybe because they have an online business or primarily online business, they’re just kind of figuring out how to pivot on their own and they don’t really need much help and they’re just sort of checking in. So it’s just been a mix. 06:48 ST: Yeah, I really see it split among new business owners, either you’re new enough that you don’t have a lot of staff and you don’t have a lot of things that you’ve already invested in. So maybe you have a smaller overhead and a little bit more nimbleness to be able to pivot or be able to take a break or whatever, you haven’t really made it so that you’re completely dependent on it and have all these people depending on it, so that’s… Some people’s situation that I know of, but then you’ve got the other where… Especially if you’re more of a capital intensive business like you just… Like I know of some local businesses here in Flagstaff that maybe just opened a restaurant or just opened a retailed location that’s got a lot of inventory. And in those cases, yeah, there are even more at risk than other businesses who are more established and have all those customer relationships. 07:42 MB: For sure, it’s both depressing in some ways and also in other ways, inspiring to see what some of the businesses are doing to pivot, just a couple of really quick examples that have been noticeable: There was a brewery, my girlfriend, Anne, was really good about staying on top of what’s going on in Charlotte and all that. And she just mentioned to me that there was a brewery that literally just opened their doors within the last month in a local suburb peer of Charlotte, and your first reaction is like, “Oh man, that sounds terrible. I feel bad.” Apparently, they’re sold out of their beer because they just have… They’re pouring themselves out and being formidable on social media saying, “We’re so excited, but here’s what happened, obviously, this is the only way we’re able to reach our customers, and while we were so excited to be there and have you in person, like, here’s what we can do for you right now,” and I think they maybe even delivering some beer or whatever, and apparently they’re sold out of their first stock in the first week. There’s also… 08:41 MB: There’s basically like a skill sharing service that started here in Charlotte called Skill Pop, and as soon as this happened, it was all in-person workshops where anyone with a skill or some knowledge could offer to teach a class and charged a certain price per head, usually 20-$30 per head is the range, and there’s all these stories now about how they pivoted in 14 days to move everything online, and just like that, they dug into it and they asked people to test it out both on the customer side and those teaching the classes, and they’re thriving, and now they’re able to offer their classes globally because it’s online. And so there’s definitely a lot of really tough stories and there’s so many businesses going through such tough challenges, but you see these little glimmers of hope and you’re sort of as a business counselor, I’m trying to point people to those examples and say, “Look how these businesses are adapting and pivoting, and you may not be able to do that exact formula, but what can you do, what does this make possible for you right now as opposed to what are you limited to?” 09:44 ST: It’ll be fascinating, once we’re back to some normalcy to see who did make it out the other side and what they look like on the other side, you were talking about business moving online, our local bookshop has moved everything to online ordering in just a week, I mean, just a week of trying to move from being an in-person classic style independent bookshop to now allowing people to order everything online. 10:11 MB: Yeah, that’s amazing. 10:13 ST: Yeah, and then I called them because they’re still working out, ’cause they have a great local rewards program for people who buy locally that you get a little bit back and you earn basically cash that you can buy more books with. When they shifted to the online ordering the system wasn’t recognizing those rewards program, so they had to let people know, “Okay, if you wanna make sure you get the rewards, you can still just call us and put in your order directly while we’re working out the kinks.” I went ahead and did a phone call order, and it was funny ’cause I was working with a local bookseller, Cory, who has a podcast called Books and Tea, who is my favorite local bookseller, who always gives me great recommendations. It was awesome that I could get her on the phone, and she was able to pull some books from the shelves and talk me through what books were available and recommend a book for me, and during this time, I’ve been trying to reach out more and send more greeting cards to family and friends. So I was like, “Hey, my stock’s kinda getting low, I know that pretty much all your cards are great, so could you please pick out some greeting cards for me?” 11:20 ST: And it was totally random. I was like, “Can you just get three birthday cards and two general, like thinking-of-you cards,” and she was like, “Oh, I can text you pictures of the friends,” and I was like, “No, no, no, no, no, no. I don’t have time for that.” [chuckle] It’s like, “I trust you just pick out five cards and we’ll give it a try, and if it’s a total loss and I don’t like them, then maybe I won’t do it again, but for now, we’ll just try it,” and they’re great. She just picked out five cards for me and they were in the bag when I went to do my no-contact pick-up, and it was kind of fun, it was like a treat ’cause I got basically a secret shopper almost, and I just get surprised by five fun cards. 12:07 MB: Yeah, that’s so cool and it’s just like a, like you said, an opportunity for business to do something different and for there to be almost like another way to add value. It’s like, that probably never happened before. Maybe rarely they had to do that, but maybe that becomes a thing now where… And I bet the person who did it for you, was probably excited to be like, “Oh, I better pick out the right ones so that the customer is happy,” especially since you were like, “Yeah, no hands-off like you do it,” that’s kind of a fun thing for them to do and a pretty cool service that they’d be willing to do that to keep a loyal customer. I think that’s smart, and I think we need to hear examples like that of how businesses are trying as much as they can right now. 12:49 ST: And I think they may have actually even given up on greeting cards, I didn’t see them promoting greeting cards at all before that for the last four weeks, they just been focusing on books ’cause it’s like people kinda know what they wanna read or they can get that figured out, greeting cards. Everyone loves to touch the greeting cards, but after that, I noticed the very next day on Instagram they had strong ribbons across their front window at their shop and had hung greeting cards, and that was their new promotion was, “Do a walk by our shop. Look at the greeting cards and call in your order for what reading card do you want.” 13:25 MB: Yeah, you maybe did them a favor, it sounds like. [music] 13:32 ST: I’m pausing for just a moment to remind you that a transcript of today’s episode is available in the show notes at dogoodbegoodshow.com, as well as links to anything we mention. If you’re interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, check out Fizzle, that’s where I get the support that I need to produce this show. In fact, Mike and I are both Fizzle members. You can find my referral link in the show notes with that link, you will get a month of courses coaching and community for just $1. Using the link will also support this show. Now, back to my conversation with Mike. So on a personal level, how do you feel about still not just still working during this time, but even being more busy, having your job be more in the forefront and more critical at this time? 14:25 MB: To be really transparent, it’s been kind of strange just because I just started this new role and have this new client list that I haven’t really fully been able to reach out to yet in the way that I was planning on, just because we’re fielding so many requests for help on the loans, and that’s become a priority, but at the same time, I think the SBDCs across the country are sort of listed as a first responder for disasters for small businesses, so when there’s a disaster declared, which has happened for all 50 states and all territories right now, because of the pandemic, obviously, that usually is what triggers the funding to start to come down and all that kind of stuff. And then the SBDCs are basically a first responder to help our small businesses navigate through that disaster, whether it’s applying for the loans or what resources are available or what do you need to do to communicate with your team and your employees and all that kinda stuff. So we’ve started to build a website specifically for the coronavirus, and we’re sharing all these resources and trying to keep as up-to-date as possible with all of the programs that are available, even though most of them are running out of money in a heartbeat. 15:42 MB: So to answer your question. I mean, I think… One of my top strengths, I’ve taken the StrengthsFinder and my number five, I think is responsibility, so I think there’s this sense of responsibility that we need to help, that’s what we’re here for, these small businesses are depending on us, and I sort of feel like it’s my duty in this role to make sure that we’re helping these businesses. And I do feel like, at least I can speak for our staff in Charlotte, we’re all doing it, and we’re all putting in the time, and we’re working as hard as we can to help on the other side of that coin, personally, I feel like I don’t have all the answers, and that’s really hard. I probably haven’t even had as high volume as some others, like maybe my director has, but to get on the phone with a small business owner right now and them ask you, “What can I do?” And you say, “Here’s the best I got.” 16:38 MB: Knowing full well that that money might run out, as of today, a lot of the money has run out until the next legislation gets passed, it’s just really… It’s tough, it’s hard and it’s almost depressing to be like, “There’s not much help right now, hopefully there’s more coming, but here are some strategies we can help you with in the meantime, and here’s the best… Here’s the best plan of action.” So it’s just… It’s been tough. I’m a high empathy person, so I’m constantly putting myself in these clients’ shoes and yes, I have my own business too, but luckily, that’s not my sole source of income right now, and I keep being thankful for that, because who knows what would be happening if I were solely dependent on that right now, I may be in the same situation as everyone else that I’m trying to help, so definitely thankful for having a job, just first and foremost, and trying to do the best we can to help people. 17:32 ST: Is there anything that you’ve started doing or continue doing that helps you just disconnect and have a little moment of zen or joy when you’re not working? 17:47 MB: A few things, I’ve started to incorporate some more self-care activities into my daily routine, not just when this happened, probably within the last year, meditation and playing my keyboard or guitar, I was playing racquetball every week, all of that hasn’t been happening. So there’s been stuff like that that I’ve been trying to do… Now that we’ve got a dog, I’ve been taking Leila for walks a couple of times a day, and honestly, something I never really did much before, but has been really nice and helpful is just literally take a 10-minute break and be outside and not be looking at the computer and just having that time to let the brain wander and process or maybe even not think about anything and just be. And that’s been great, but aside from all of that, I’ve been working on a little side project, which is my own podcast, which is gonna be called the Live Your Values Podcast. So in my down time, I’ve actually just been working on building that idea from the ground up, it’s been a nice distraction and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about wanting to do for a while, and I think as soon as the stay-at-home order went into place for us here in North Carolina, I was just like, “This is the time to work on this. It’s just a no-brainer.” 19:01 ST: Nice. So I feel like I was gonna give you a hard time and then I’m like, I’m totally similar in the way that I like the balance of both going back to some of the simple basics like cooking or being in nature, but then also I need that creative project that keeps my brain going on something that feels like something I have the ability to have some control over, or have the ability to get to make progress on at a time when so much else is uncertain, so… Yeah, and we’ll definitely… 19:31 MB: Yeah, it’s okay you can still give me a hard time anyways it’s crazy, I don’t know why I’m spending so much time working on stuff, but… 19:38 ST: I know, you were like, “In my downtime, I’m working. [chuckle] That’s what I’m doing.” Yeah, yeah, no, I’m definitely similar. Are there any things that you had wanted to bring up or thought would make sense for us to talk about that I didn’t yet ask you about. 19:53 MB: Just to cap off with the side projects, I’ve been really excited to work on something that I’m passionate about, and I have lots of passions, I’m still running my business, I’m working a job that I really enjoy, but this truly feels like my true passion projects. I talked all about my career trajectory the last time I was on, and sort of that transition into career counseling after a couple of years in the corporate world and I think I really enjoyed helping people launch their careers and work through some of the practical stuff, but more so I think I just helped… I enjoyed helping people figure out what was important to them, and so I feel like every iteration is leading to the next thing, I feel like… Okay, I did, all of those things I mentioned I started this role as a business counselor, now I feel like this next phase of what I’m working on on the side, this passion project of helping people discover and align and connect with their values is just a combination of everything else I’ve done, and it feels like the logical next step where, okay, I’ve got some experience like how to run a business. 21:03 MB: So this podcast could potentially turn into something more… Not really even going that far down that rabbit hole yet, but I think the idea that I can help people connect with what’s important to them and help them maybe be more authentic with their lives, their career, or whatever it is that they’re navigating through and really help them align their values, which hopefully would be a more fulfilling more meaningful life, I think is really my goal. That’s all, just really excited about it, and I’m really excited to see where it goes, and of course, as I shared last time, my whole organization brain is kicking in and I’m having a lot of fun putting the content calendar together and all that, but I know that there’s this part of me that just needs to do it, within the last week or two, I’ve really kicked myself in a gear and started scheduling these first two recordings. So I’m excited to see what that brings. 21:55 ST: Nice. Just you bringing that up made me also think that… I know, I personally know a lot of people who have lost their jobs during this time, and I’m sure you do too, so I’m sure we’ve got some listeners who are in that situation where they’ve lost their job, they’re now going into a very tough job market, maybe they’re thinking about trying to also make a career pivot while they look for a new job as a former career counselor and as someone working on this living your values show. Is there any advice you would offer or any things maybe people might wanna think about as they go through this? 22:34 MB: I probably won’t be able to help anyone solve their crisis if they just got laid off and they’re trying to figure out that next move in a one-minute piece of advice, but I would say a good place to start is just honestly, take a breather, even if it’s just a couple of days, let your mind clear out a little bit. Journaling is a great practice, even if you’re not a huge fan of it, I think just getting your thoughts out on paper about what an ideal life and an ideal job looks like for you and starting there, and don’t put any restrictions on that, just brain dump what an ideal work situation looks like for you in terms of the work, in terms of the people, in terms of the hours, the commute, all of it, just get that ideal scenario on paper. 23:27 MB: And once you do that, start to connect some dots and see, “Okay, what are some of the things here that are really important to me, what are the top things I’m really needing? Out of all these things I wrote down, what are deal breakers versus nice-to-have things?” And I think if you can start to prioritize those work values a bit, you can really get a sense of what it is that you’re looking for of course, like my heart goes out to anybody who’s lost a job or is being furloughed right now, and I know it’s happened in so many people, and it’s really tough. The silver lining to that may be what is again, what does this allow you to do, what not that you wanna get from your job, but if it did happen, start to think about, are there things that you could do next that you’re actually really excited about does this open up some opportunities for you? 24:15 ST: Yeah, I think the other thing I would just add to that is, particularly people who are thinking about making a big transition, or I’ve heard people talking about maybe it’s time to get more education or other steps. So I think that one thing I love about volunteer work is that if there’s something you think you wanna be doing, there’s always often a way that you could start doing it right now in a small way as a volunteer or as a creative side project. I even remember I had a friend who was talking about going to graduate school, I said, “Okay, well, what would you study in graduate school?” And she said, “Well, I’m really interested in why this happens to young men in this situation,” and I was like, “Okay, great. So what’s stopping you right now from learning more about that topic?” [chuckle] 25:17 ST: And she was like, “Well, I really am interested in what this professor at this university is doing, and I’d love to work with them.” I was like, “Okay, great. What’s stopping you from reaching out to that professor and just saying, “Hey, can I just have a 30-minute call with you to talk about your research?” What professor doesn’t want someone being like, “I’m fascinated by your research, and I wanna talk to you for 30 minutes.” So I said, “Before you go and change your entire life and invest thousands of dollars in getting a Master’s degree, just spend two weeks carving out a little bit of time every day to just investigate this topic and just dive into it in a way that you would if you actually had gone and started a Master’s program, and see if you really are interested in it after two weeks.” [chuckle] 26:09 MB: Yeah, I would agree. 26:11 ST: But I think the same could be done in a job too, like, “Oh, I think I wanna pivot to this industry.” Okay, great. Spend… And I know people have kids at home, they have lots of reasons why they can’t just start doing that job, but even just 30 minutes a day spending, learning about that industry or practicing something you would be doing in that industry. 26:31 MB: Yeah, I totally agreed. I would echo all of what you said, I think manageable chunks for sure, like set a realistic goal, if it’s a half hour day or two hours a week or whatever it might be, that you know you can actually dedicate to it, and informational interviewing is your best friend, when you’re thinking about the next thing for you career-wise or anything else. There are so many different ways to learn about a field or a job or an industry. LinkedIn is also a great resource to see if you can find people who are in a role that you’re interested in, and just even just reading their profile, getting understanding of their experience in their career trajectory and seeing how they came along and what they’re working on, and then of course, like you said, like you suggested if you can reach out to some people in that field, and just have a quick 15,30 minute chat with them. Most people, if you phrase it and frame it in a way that it’s like, “Hey, I really wanna learn from your expertise,” right, you wanna make it a little bit about them and less about you. 27:34 MB: A lot of people, I won’t say everybody, but most people I think are willing to help in some way, especially if you have any connection to them whatsoever, and that’s why LinkedIn is so great because if you went to the same university, shouldn’t all matter. If you have a connection in common, maybe you’re in a similar group, any way that you can find a connection with someone is a great way to start a conversation and usually a nice way to get someone to agree to chat with you, and I think the more informational interviewing, and little bits of research you can do for what that next thing is that you’re thinking about the better. So you can be better equipped to figure out, can you get a job in that field when things stabilize, or do you need a graduate degree or a certification to get in that field? So just acquiring that knowledge and as much information as you can. 28:21 ST: Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. Thank you, Mike, for all of your support and for being a guest and sharing your story. For show notes on all of our episodes visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. To subscribe to this podcast for free, so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, just search for Do Good, Be Good in your podcast app of choice, whether that’s Spotify, Stitcher, Google Music, Apple Podcasts, whatever you want to listen through. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me. Music in this episode is bathed in fine dust by Andy G. Cohen released under a Creative Commons Attribution International License and discovered in their Free Music Archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-bloom, signing off. [music] The post #56 Helping Businesses and Living Your Values appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
20 minutes | 3 months ago
#27 (Rebroadcast) A Virtual Assistant Who is Really There to Help You
“My whole thing is staying organized.” Mike Barugel launched FYT Virtual Assistants to help you. From creating spreadsheets during play as a child to making processes at his first job at McDonald’s, Mike has always had a talent for putting tasks in order. His own career path has not always felt orderly though. Mike shares how and why he got to the point of launching a virtual assistant agency. Mentioned in this episode: FYT Virtual AssistantsMike’s Podcast, Live Your ValuesThe Four AgreementsThe Do Good, Be Good Facebook PageThe Do Good, Be Good Shirts and SweatshirtsThe Do Good, Be Good Website For a full transcript of the episode, read below: 00:00 Mike Barugel: But at that point I sort of had a little bit of a very early, let’s say a quarter-life crisis, [chuckle] where I was like, Wait a second, I don’t like this at all. And is this where my life is going? 00:11 Announcer: This is Do Good, Be Good. The show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-bloom, a career do-gooder, who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:31 Sharon Tewksbury-bloom: Greetings. I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-bloom. I’m so excited to share this episode with you. Today’s guest is Mike Barugel. I have come to know Mike over the last few months, because I hired his company FYT Virtual Assistants to help me get this podcast out to you all, as well as a few other things. He and his team have been amazing. I was really interested in hearing how Mike got started in this virtual assistant business, so I invited him onto the show. In this episode, we hear about how Mike got started and how he thinks about meaningful work. 01:08 ST: So this season is about meaningful work. And one thing that I’ve been asking everybody is; what was your first job? 01:18 MB: Wow, very first job. I was a cashier at Gill McDonald’s at 15 years old, and I remember taking that job because it was one of the few places in New Jersey, where I grew up, that you could actually start working at 15 not 16. 01:36 ST: Was there any moment in that job where you felt like you were being helpful or doing good? 01:43 MB: Yeah, actually. There were several people who came in to fast food restaurants that I learned through this experience that had a lot of disabilities, and a lot of people were very poverty stricken. I can remember a time or two where I took change out of my own pocket to help somebody pay for a meal, helping people by bringing their food to their table and just kind of saying, “I hope you have a nice day,” very little things, but at 15 years old I think it kind of made me realize, “Oh, well, I could do something nice for people.” And, “That kind of feels pretty good.” 02:20 ST: Nice. Was there anything that led you to choose another path for what type of work you were looking for after that? 02:29 MB: I think the learning was more so like what types of things I liked to do. I think I always knew I was a pretty organized and structured person, but having applied that to work, I realized that I really thrived at anything that was formulaic or methodical, anything that had a pretty straightforward process, and in fact, if it didn’t, I sort of made one up, [chuckle] to make sure that I was checking things off of a list. So I remember just going over the sweeping and mopping procedure, and it’s like, “Okay,” but I remember asking, “But what’s the order? Do you sweep first or do you mop first, what makes more sense?” And I needed to know the answer. Luckily, I’ve lightened up a little bit over the years, [chuckle] but it’s funny that that definitely carries through in almost everything that I do. It’s just I like to figure out the process and then do it and execute it, and then get it done. It’s sort of a feel good thing. 03:28 ST: I get a sense from the way you just described that, that maybe there were these parts of your personality of wanting things organized and formulaic, that probably showed up even before that job at McDonald’s. [chuckle] 03:40 MB: Oh yeah. 03:41 ST: Is there any fun family story or something people love to tell that defines that part of your personality? 03:48 MB: Maybe my parents are going around telling people these stories, I don’t really know. [chuckle] but there’s one that sticks out. I remember growing up, probably 10, 12 years old, somewhere in there, and wanting to play shop. So I would make my room into this little store, and I would price everything out and put little notes on how much things would cost. And I remember my dad, this was back when computers were just starting to become very popular. So I remember opening some sort of spreadsheet application, and typing in the name of the product and how much it cost. And it’s crazy how doing bookkeeping now. But yeah, it’s funny how those types of things definitely were present early in life and kind of stuck with me and went along. 04:39 ST: Then once you actually more formally got on a path towards some sort of career, what did that look like in terms of your high school guidance counselor, whatever you told people you wanted to be when you grew up, how did you get started in the career world? Was it ever kind of clear that this work you were doing, you felt like you had a bigger purpose or it was meaningful or how did you navigate that? Was that important to you at the time? 05:09 MB: Yeah. That’s a great question. I mean, I think that to be totally honest, at the time when I was in college and doing these internships and I did have several with Chase, I realized that I was more about the people than anything. I just like… And I mean the fellow interns, we were lucky to have a class of anywhere from 40 to 60 interns each summer, that were going through this internship program. We all worked in different departments throughout the whole company, but there were a lot of events that we did together. And I’m sort of naturally the social organizer in a lot of aspects, in groups in my life. And so I would invite all the people over to my house every Thursday night to have some drinks and hang out. And I realized that that’s more of who I was than anything. I didn’t really connect with the work as much as I did with the people. 06:05 MB: And so, sort of fast forward, right after I graduated college, I ended up taking a job with an accounting firm in Philadelphia. And I very quickly learned that that was not the right decision for me and it was not the right path for me, although I did last almost two years. But at that point I sort of had a little bit of a very early, let’s say a quarter-life crisis, [chuckle] where I was like, “Wait a second, I don’t like this at all. And is this where my life is going?” I sort of had this really critical moment. And I did a lot of reflection at that point and it was really only a year after I graduated college, and I realized that I did want more meaningful work. I did wanna do something that I actually felt connected to and felt passionate about. And I realized that one of the values that I really had was to be able to help others directly, to make a direct impact on other people. 07:00 MB: And then I sort of did a little bit more reflection and realized I really had this neck for working with college-age students and had a real passion for helping people avoid making the career decisions that maybe weren’t the best for them based on some personal experience. So that’s actually when I decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree to be a career counselor. I think all of these stages were necessary, and I eventually got to realizing what a core passion of mine was, which was to help others kind of navigate through their career as a college student. 07:33 ST: Nice. Alright, I’m gonna bring you back, I’m gonna pause you and bring it back to that moment, ’cause you’ve said that there was that moment in the accounting firm when you were having that quarter-life crisis. So, let’s just dig into that, go back there in your mind for a second and think about what did it look like or feel like or was there a particular turning point or a moment or something you observed that you were like, “Oh my gosh, how is this my life or is this gonna be what every day is like.” [chuckle] Take me back there. I’m sorry to make you relive it, but was is it like? 08:11 MB: That’s okay, it’s still very vivid. About almost ten years later. There were many critical points but there was one moment actually that I was very inspired. I was traveling, I was living in Philadelphia, but I was traveling to and from Boston for a particular project, literally every single week for almost six months, and it was one of those things where it was, “Okay. It’s gonna be a month, oh, wait, it’s gonna be two months.” Then they just kept prolonging it and extending it. And these… For budgetary reasons we were taking trains not planes to get there, which made it even worse, but it gave me a lot of time for reflection. And so within the first six months of being a working professional, going back and forth on this train, I already started to feel like, Man, this is really taxing, like, “The hours are long. I really don’t love the people I’m around every day,” both the clients and my managers who I’m working with. I just really started acknowledging like, “This is not fun, this is not what I want life to be like.” Honestly, it felt crushing, it felt like this was going to be real life, it felt like fun was over at 21 and now from 22 ’till I die, it was just gonna be miserable. And that’s not the case, thankfully, I realize now. But then it felt like that. 09:39 MB: And so I remember taking the train, Sunday evenings or Monday mornings there, and then Friday afternoons back, and doing a lot of writing and just thinking and stuff like that. And I’ll never forget, one weekend on the way back from Boston, I decided intentionally to sit in the quiet car which they have on most Amtraks, and I really just wanted to rest, close my eyes and not talk to anybody. And of course I get in the quiet car and I sit down. And this guy just starts chatting me up and we’re talking, and I’m nervous because I’m making too much noise in the quiet car, but he’s clearly trying to talk to me and I’m trying to be as quiet as possible, anyway, long story short, he is the cousin of a kid that I went to elementary school with for eight years, and so we knew somebody in common. He happened to be a doctor, very well read, and I sort of… Actually I didn’t even really share too much before he noticed that I was really struggling. 10:44 MB: And he just kind of talked with me a bit and tried to understand what was going on and then recommended a book called “The Four Agreements” which I ended up buying and reading in one sitting, on a train back to Boston the next week. And that book and his lending a hand or lending an arm out to reach out to me, both combined to really inspire me to say, “You know what, if I don’t like this right now, then I can do something different. Just because I took this job doesn’t mean I have to do it forever or even for another year if I really don’t want to.” So that was the moment that really kicked me into gear, it still was about another year and a half before I started grad school but the process had already been starting to go into motion. 11:38 ST: And once you were in the career counseling field, was there a moment where it felt like, “Yes, this is what I was hoping for from this career path. This was worth leaving, this was worth going to grad school, everything.””? 12:00 MB: Oh, actually I do remember a really great feeling. We worked right next to the student center and one day I went into the students center to grab some lunch. And this student, that had seen me two or three times, came in and saw me and said, “Hey, Mike, I just wanna let you know. I got that internship with that music production studio that I really wanted and I couldn’t have done it without your help. Thank you, so much.” That was like the moment. I mean, really that was like, “How? I actually just helped and influenced somebody to get started on their career. That’s pretty cool.” 12:33 ST: That’s awesome. [music] 12:37 ST: I hope you are enjoying Mike’s story. To support this show, please consider buying a Do Good Be Good shirt or sweatshirt. They are on sale now. You can find out more at our website dogoodbegoodshow.com or at the Facebook page, facebook.com/dogoodbegoodshow. What else would really help is if you could rate and review our show in whatever podcast app you are using, whether that’s Apple podcast Stitcher, Google Music, when you rate and review the show, it really helps other people find it. Thank you so much for your help. Now back to our conversation. [music] 13:18 ST: We talked about when you got into career counseling having a moment where you were like, “Yes, this shows that this was a good path or that this is a good day on the job here,” so how does… Do you have an example of maybe a day in starting the company that you were like, “Yes, this is definitely what I wanna do or it’s working or I’m clearly helping people or jelling in some way.”? 13:44 MB: There are many, there are many. And I think that’s what’s great about having your own business, too, is you can kind of really focus on the things that you want to. Of course, there’s always gonna be the back office type of stuff and things that you need to keep the business moving. But yeah, I think that’s one of the things to be honest with you, I’m still trying to find the groove for the business of who is our ideal market and what is our niche and all that. I mean I can be totally transparent to say that’s still evolving, and it probably always will. But finding clients that are a good fit. I think you and I have had a good relationship so far, which has been great. 14:29 MB: I’ve had a few clients that didn’t feel like a good fit, but some… And actually, I would say the majority have. And so finding that groove with the client to figure out, “Okay, how do we best work together? How do we best keep each other in communication about what needs to get done?” And then going back to the McDonald’s days of making a process, and then checking it off, that’s what I love. I love having something listed out and then knowing that it’s gonna get done on our end, and relieving that from the client so that they don’t have to worry as much. And knowing that it’s gonna get done. And of course, getting feedback is always a great thing but I think a lot of it is just feeling good about the work that we’re doing too. 15:13 ST: On that kind of theme about wanting to always be helpful to your clients, how do you think about in your business in terms of what your business is there to do, it’s purpose, the way that it makes the world better in its own little sphere of influence? [chuckle] yeah. What is your goal to try to make your little part of the world better? 15:37 MB: Yeah. I was just talking about this mentor program and my mentors and in the first meeting, my biggest takeaway was ask them challenging me to really think about the why. Why are you doing this? And it’s crazy. I actually had lost sight of that because I was just so super-focused on getting it done that I didn’t really remember why I was doing it. And it was kind of disheartening and also eye opening at the same time. And since then I’ve refocused that in my head and realized my whole thing is staying organized. That’s what I was doing, playing shop at 10 years old, that’s what I was doing in probably every job I’ve had, is; How do we make things as organized and efficient as possible? 16:28 MB: And I love personally helping people with that. Obviously, I’ve built a business around that as well. And so, any ways that we can help our clients feel more organized, and truly become more organized, I think is a huge win for us. And it’s something that I’m realizing more and more that people need. And of course, there are many, many different ways to market that and to figure out who might need it, but there are a lot of people who do, and a lot of people who probably don’t need to be spending their time doing that, organizing piece, whether it’s using technology or just cleaning up files or whatever it might be. So, yes, that’s where the passion lies. 17:11 ST: I know in our first planning conversation too, we kind of got on to that good concept of the fact that I wanted to make life easier for future me… 17:24 MB: Right, yeah, which I love. 17:25 ST: And then by leveraging you and your services and your company’s services, it was like a gift to future me. [chuckle] 17:33 MB: Right. [chuckle] You need to get up. 17:34 ST: Where I set up some systems and some processes and the technology tools to support them, so that even if it does take a little work upfront to get it all sorted out, it will just keep getting more streamlined and simpler and I can do more. 17:50 MB: Yeah, exactly, and I love that way of looking at that perspective of the future me ’cause I think it helps bring it to life and say, “Hey, down the road, six months from now or whenever, how am I going to interact with whatever this is? Is it going to make sense if we leave it today, and pick it back up then? That’s a really helpful way of looking at how to organize. 18:16 ST: Well, my final question that I’ve been collecting from everyone is the name of the show is Do good, be good. So what does it mean to you to be good? 18:26 MB: I think I’ll bring back in the Four Agreements book that I had talked about that gentleman had recommended to me. And the four agreements are all great, but I really think that piece of, always do your best really does resonate with me. We’re not always going to succeed in doing our best, but I think if we’re always trying to do our best, that makes a really positive impact on the world. And I’m a big fan of the idea of make little drops in the pond, even though you don’t think that that might do anything, that ripple effect does really happen. And so even if it’s just holding the door open for that person or saying one nice thing to somebody that you know per day, or whatever it might be, that really does go a long way. [music] 19:19 ST: Awesome. I love hearing from passionate and thoughtful people like Mike. I am so grateful to have found him to help me with my business. Thank you, Mike, for coming on the show and sharing your story. Music in this episode, ‘Bathed in fine dust’ by Andy G. Cohen released under Creative Commons Attribution international license and discovered in the free music archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-bloom, signing off. The post #27 (Rebroadcast) A Virtual Assistant Who is Really There to Help You appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
23 minutes | 3 months ago
#55 Accepting Help is Harder Than Giving It
Maggie Twomey was diagnosed with breast cancer in February right before the world shut down. A volunteer coordinator, Maggie is usually the one coordinating help and helping out where it is needed. Facing this personal health crisis, Maggie reflects on what it feels like to be the one receiving help. Mentioned in this episode: First episode with Maggie Twomey Community Stewards Program in Flagstaff (Maggie’s work)Theatrikos Theater CompanyWant to start your own podcast or blog? Check out Fizzle Full Transcript below: 00:00 Maggie Twomey: It was really difficult for me because I’m… That’s what I do. I’m the neighbor that makes a meal train for you. And I had a hard time with that, and it took me a little bit to accept that kind of help. [music] 00:25 Speaker 2: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:45 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. The other voice you heard at the top of the episode is our guest for today, Maggie Twomey. Maggie was our first ever guest on the show almost three years ago. At that time we talked about her work as a volunteer coordinator and her early career working in Arena Football. We replayed that episode last week, so if you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, I encourage you to check it out. Maggie is still working as a volunteer coordinator for the city of Flagstaff. For this time, I interviewed Maggi in my backyard on September 16th, 2020. You can hear some lovely bird sounds in the background at times. Like many people, Maggie has had a challenging last seven months. As you’re about to hear, her world turned upside down in February just before everyone else’s lives were disrupted. One quick reminder before the conversation that the show notes for today’s episode are available at dogoodbegoodshow.com and I’ll include links to anything that we talk about in those notes. Thank you for listening to Do Good Be Good. Here is my conversation with Maggie Twomey. 02:03 MT: I was diagnosed on February 5th with breast cancer and scheduled for a mastectomy on March 10th. That was a week before everything really closed down in our community. I was so preoccupied with my diagnosis and training in the person that was gonna cover for me while I was on my FMLA leave and making sure that everything for Earth Day was lined up because it’s my biggest event that I… To be really honest and this is quite embarrassing, I didn’t even know there was a pandemic coming. I went in for surgery on the 10th and I really, I had no idea that what was going on in the world. 02:46 ST: And was that when we did the bike parade for you? 02:49 MT: Yes. 02:49 ST: On March 10th. Okay. 02:51 MT: Yes. 02:52 ST: ‘Cause that was also, I think, the last gathering I went to was March 10th. 02:57 MT: You know it was the… Thank you for coming. That was. Yeah and I think what happened for me during that time when I was so unaware of what was happening in the world, the other piece I was really focusing on when other people heard my devastating news and scary news, they wanted to help. Everybody wanted to help, and here I am being thrown into the role of volunteer coordinator again. 03:23 ST: Right. 03:24 MT: You know. And which was good for me in that space because in that space I was terrified and I didn’t know what to do, and there was so much waiting and you’re relying on all these professionals to make diagnoses and suggestions and treatment plans, and it’s a really helpless feeling. And so I was really grateful to have that to kind of jump into. And so one of the first things I did about a week after my diagnosis is I announced it on Facebook, and I put a list in that announcement. These are ways that you can help me. I need people to… And this… Granted, this was in February so I was really unaware of the pandemic, but you can come and take me for a walk while I’m recovering. You can bring me a meal. You can write me a letter. You can send me a text. You can make a phone call. 04:17 MT: So I gave this list of really specific things that people could do to feel helpful. And then my work group really wanted to be a part of things. And so one person in my office made a meal train and rallied people to sign up, and it was really difficult for me because that’s what I do. I’m the neighbor that makes a meal train for you and I had a hard time with that and it was… It took me a little bit to accept that kind of help. But I think the coolest way that people got to help, and I think that people really might have thought it was silly. I know my dad thought it was kind of silly. I said, “Dad, just wait until you see. Wait until you see. This is what Flagstaff is about.” So my supervisor at work organized a bike parade from my office, on the day of my surgery, to the hospital. There were probably 35 people in that bike parade. 05:22 ST: That’s a good crowd. It was a good crowd. 05:24 MT: And it was cold and rainy. It was cold. 05:27 ST: It was a really good crowd for the weather too. 05:30 MT: For the weather it was a great crowd. It was raining, and people showed up in tutus and with funky wigs and boas and signs and all kinds of things. And I was so afraid to go into the surgery because there was still so much unknown. They weren’t gonna find out what stage the cancer was and what my recovery prognosis would be until after that surgery, and so there was so much unknown, and I’m such a people person on a lot of levels that I just, I needed that rallying support around me. It was perfect. It was… I don’t think I could have asked for anything better. That was… 06:12 ST: We literally had a tunnel. 06:16 MT: A high five tunnel. 06:16 ST: Yeah a high five tunnel running in the [06:17] ____. 06:18 MT: I felt like I was like a pro athlete running out onto a big field. 06:22 ST: It was kind of funny ’cause I feel like we got there a little early and then you were like, “Oh, we still have time.” 06:27 MT: Yeah, I think we did. 06:28 ST: It’s like we did all the high fives and now… 06:29 MT: And now what do we do? 06:31 ST: Right. 06:32 MT: Yeah, no, it was great. And my dad never stopped talking about it. He really… He said to me, I thought that that bike parade idea was really silly until I saw it. And he said it was obvious that it was just what you needed. So, yeah, so going in, I had a lot on my mind, so I wasn’t quite aware of the pandemic, and I really was asking a lot of questions at the end of March and early April of my work team because I was starting to go back to work remotely and like, Well, are there NAU students still here or did they go back? Because they’re a big part of my volunteer corp. What about special events? When do you think we’ll be able to do them again? I can’t imagine what people’s response was because I was such… In such a fog about it, and I think it really didn’t hit me until the first week of April when it really became real to me what was going on and the gravity of the pandemic, and what we as a community needed to do to overcome. And what we still need to do to overcome six months later? 07:50 ST: And being… For the listeners, being here in Arizona by the first week of April, we definitely had full-on rapid spreading caseloads and we were moving up in the area of being a hot spot in the country, I think. 08:06 MT: We were. 08:08 ST: So that’s when I think New York was at their worst, but we were growing and instead of thinking… ‘Cause I remember in mid-March it was like, “Well, let’s shut things down so that we can reopen,” and instead it was like, “Oh no, we’re getting worse, and don’t know when it will re-open, but definitely not mid-April.” And the students weren’t coming back and the school wasn’t coming back and… Yeah. 08:38 MT: No, yeah, I agree with you on that. And I had a second surgery at the end of March, and I wasn’t sure that I was gonna get to have it. In my mind before I spoke to the surgeon, and then the surgeon was like, “No, you’re stage three, you are a priority.” And I have never been whisked in and out of a hospital so quickly. It was… I had got dropped off at the curb and literally when I came out of recovery, they put my duffel bag on the bed and said, “Get dressed, your ride is here.” and I could barely stand up ’cause I was still like all groggy. But, yeah, they weren’t messing around. 09:21 ST: And with all of those things that you had told your friends and family about, I mean, how much of that was still able to happen during your recovery? Did you still have people coming over or bits and pieces? 09:34 MT: I still had… People still brought meals, the meal train piece still came. I had a couple of people back out because they weren’t comfortable, which was completely fine. There weren’t any walks, there weren’t… I did get a lot of mail, which was really fun. I got a lot of text messages and phone calls. I got a really fun gift package from Chelsea, that had a gift to open every day, which was super great. But yeah, a lot of it kinda went by the wayside because it just couldn’t happen. So my husband became my walking buddy. 10:14 ST: I was gonna say, but did your nature of your support team change too, because I imagine your family’s lives had also changed dramatically in a way you weren’t expecting? 10:23 MT: Yeah. My husband was able to stay home to help me with my recovery, but that was planned anyway, and then he was able to extend his stay as well, which was very helpful. But yeah, it was very different because the kids were home and I’m so grateful they’re in high school. [chuckle] Yeah, it did… The vision I had for recovering from this surgery ended up being very different, it just looked really different, but it was okay. And it taught me a lot about, again, more lessons learned about working with volunteers. Even though these are my friends and my family and my neighbors, it was still a volunteer opportunity. And I think the important lesson that I learned is it’s so much better when working with volunteers to give them options, because as I said in my first podcast with you, people volunteer for so many different reasons and they get so many or different fulfillment out of it. Necessarily what I need to have happen for the work that they’re doing might not fit with what they wanna give. And so, giving options is always… There’s more than one way to get the job done oftentimes. 11:58 ST: Yeah, I had loved what you put out there so much and it struck me because I learned some of what I know about volunteer management and giving and receiving help from my mom, who is a natural networker and very much a people person, but she also dealt with my sister having cancer when she was very young, and my mom was able to take off of work and be a full-time caregiver for… My sister ended up in her cancer battle for three and a half years, and during that time, my mom ended up managing people’s help. 12:41 MT: Yes. 12:43 ST: Which that was one of the things she taught me is, like if you are wanting to help someone else, from her own experience of knowing how much it takes to manage other people’s help, she’s always tried to teach me to just help. Don’t say, “How can I help?” Just pick something that you think could be helpful, and if you want, if you’re nervous and not sure if it’ll be helpful, you can say, “I could bring dinner over on Tuesday at 6:00 PM, would that be okay?” Be specific and give something targeted that you think will be helpful and then let them adjust from there. But don’t just leave it open-ended because, yeah, the process of being the person who needs to accept help and then needing to manage all the people who wanna give you help can be a lot. 13:33 MT: It really can, and I think that’s something that I’ve learned. I know during my lifetime, I have oftentimes been the person that said, “Sharon, how can I help you? Just call me, call me. Whenever you need something, just call me.” Instead of… I think that’s what I’ve learned as well, is that it’s so much better to just do, just do. And you know that polite midwestern person in me, that’s been a struggle. I’ve been much more successful by just doing. 14:09 ST: Did you learn anything in this about how to receive help? 14:12 MT: Yeah, I did, and I think what I’ve learned is to just say, “Thank you.” Just be, and just say, “Thank you” and look the person in the eyes and just know that they really mean it. They wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. And I think sometimes receiving help is tied to our self-worth, and are we worthy of receiving from somebody? I think the older I get, the less worried about that I get and the more accepting, and I think understanding of that it feels good for you to help me. You get something out of it too. So I’m really giving to you by accepting it. That took me a long time to change my thinking about that. I think a long time ago I would have not accepted help. 15:17 ST: I’m gonna pause just a moment to remind you that the transcript of today’s episode is available at dogoodbegoodshow.com as well as links to anything that we mentioned. If you’re interested in podcasting, blogging or starting an online business, I recommend Fizzle. That is where I learned the technical skills necessary to bring you this story. You can find a referral link in the show notes, with that link, you will get a month of courses, coaching and community for just $1. Using the link will also help to support the show. You can also support the show by sharing it with a friend or family member. Now, back to my conversation with Maggie. 16:02 MT: I had a really difficult April because that was when I had to call it for Earth Day and say, “We’re not doing it.” 16:09 ST: So you were going back to work, working from home, I presume? 16:13 MT: Yes. 16:13 ST: And suddenly realizing the severity of the pandemic and the restrictions and needing to change how you did things for work? 16:25 MT: Yeah, it was challenging. I still had somebody at the office who was covering for a lot of my event things. So I was mostly communicating with that person. I started to be worried about my job. Event Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, like how are we gonna make this work? How are we gonna justify this position? It turns out there’s always virtual events, which we’ve tried a few of them and not been very successful, but we’re getting so much better at it, and I think that everybody can probably say the same. I don’t know if it reaches the same population, which is okay. I think that’s something that we’ve learned with our events. We’ve opened up opportunities for people who… Like for example, if we have an evening workshop event, somebody has children and can’t find child care or can’t bring their children to the event, all of a sudden we have an online workshop that they can do after the kids go to bed. So I think that we’ve manifested a whole another group of people that we can reach with our messages and our work. 17:40 ST: When you were cancelling Earth Day and trying to rethink what was possible, I’m curious if you… Being from the side of strategic planning and stuff, I’m curious if you sort of went back to first principles about, “Why does Earth Day exist?” [chuckle] “What are we usually hoping to achieve and how do we design something that meets the same goals?” 18:07 MT: We ended up waiting pretty long into April before we cancelled it. There’s not really a way to host Earth Day virtually, it’s an event with 60 vendors and live music, and so it was hard to let it go because it is the biggest event we host every year. That process of accepting that was hard for me. I didn’t really go through a process of why do we do it, and I think my process was more along the lines of, we’ve been doing this event for over 15, probably closer to 20 years, are we gonna be able to skip a year, or maybe two depending on how this goes? 18:52 ST: Yeah. 18:53 MT: And are we gonna be able to bring it back and is it gonna be okay, or is it gonna look really different? 19:00 ST: Yeah, it’s interesting ’cause I’m on the board for the community theater. And that’s been an interesting question to ponder in the theater realm is like why do we do theater and is there an aspect of theater that we can do virtually that is worth doing? And we’re moving to some virtual performances, and there certainly are some aspects of theater that can be translated into the virtual environment, but there is something wholly unique about live theater in-person that cannot be replicated virtually. There’s a different thing that’s online theater, and it also has merit, but it’s not the same. Personally it makes me appreciate what live theater in-person really is and miss it, of course. Maybe part of what you got from needing to cancel the Earth Day was rather than replacing it. I mean, I think there are things that are worth the creative thought on how do we do them differently, and then there’s other things that we just gain so much more appreciation for what they were as they were. And yeah, and we sort of respectfully put them on hold until we can come back to them. 20:32 ST: Maggie has one more amazing story about her cancer recovery that I asked her to share. 20:37 MT: I rode my bike to every radiation appointment that I had, which was over 300 miles, and they don’t have a bike rack. Flagstaff is a bicycle friendly community. 20:52 ST: And they’re a big supporter of Bike To Work Week. They always have big Bike To Work Week banners. 20:54 MT: Yeah the hospital is. Yes. And so my thought was that I would love to do a small fundraiser to buy a bike rack for the Cancer Center because just because I have stage three breast cancer doesn’t mean I don’t love riding my bike. I got commended by the radiologist and the oncologist and all the doctors there for riding my bike as often as I did. They said, “You’re gonna heal faster. It helps with your mental health,” and all these benefit. I have not launched that campaign yet but stay tuned. 21:31 ST: Thank you for listening to Do Good Be Good, and thank you, Maggie, so much for being a guest on the show and sharing your story. For show notes on all of the episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. To subscribe to the podcast for free so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, search for Do Good Be Good in Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Music, or your podcast app of choice. This podcast was produced, recorded, and edited by me. Music in this episode is Bathed in Fine Dust by Andy G. Cohen, released under Creative Commons Attribution International license and discovered in the Free Music Archive. Until next week, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom signing off. [music] The post #55 Accepting Help is Harder Than Giving It appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
21 minutes | 4 months ago
#1 (Rebroadcast) From Chasing Calves to Chasing Butterflies
Episode 55 will include an update with Maggie, so this week we are rebroadcasting our first ever episode of Do Good, Be Good, my first conversation with Maggie Twomey. She currently works as the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, but she started her career with an internship in Arena Football. She has a couple of great stories to share. Full Transcript below: ANNOUNCER: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. You host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Ms. Tewksbury-Bloom speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: This season was brought to you by VolunteerPro. VolunteerPro provides online volunteer management training, coaching, and community to leaders and volunteers at all levels. Learn more at volpro.net and stay tuned for later in the show when I will tell you about a special discount for our listeners TWOMEY: …..1996 was the best summer of my life. Loved that summer. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Was it the job or something else that made it the best summer of your life? TWOMEY: I think it was just a whole bunch of things in the cosmos coming together. I was graduating from college, I got to work in arena football. I primarily focused on promotions and so I did things like golf tournaments with these athletes and player appearances and kid football camps and all kinds of things like that that were event coordinating types of things, which is now what I do for a living and I really love it. That summer, because of the arena football connection – it was at the Target Center in Minneapolis, and so we got free tickets to all these concerts. And so it was a really great summer. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Arena Football, free tickets, what does that have to do with helping? Trust me, we’ll get there. Today’s guest is Maggie Twomey. She now works as the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Flagstaff and has worked in service and volunteerism for many years. Keep listening for the turning point she faced that led her to a career in service. TWOMEY: I had probably been working as an intern for arena football for about two months, I want to say it was in August, it was the end of the summer. My supervisor, who was a paid professional, sales and marketing manager, he came to me on either a Friday or a Saturday afternoon – I don’t remember what day the games were, it was so long ago – and he said Our halftime show canceled. And I was the last one in the office, and I was terrified because he was looking at me to fill this void. You have to remember, it was the mid-Nineties, there was no internet – well there was, but it was in its infancy – people didn’t have cell phones, you had to catch people sitting at their desk or sitting at home to communicate with them. There was no email or texting, none of that. So I had very limited resources. I knew that what I had was a hot tub in the end zone, which I had arranged, and it was being occupied during the game by fraternity gentlemen, if you will. The compensation we gave them was we had beer delivered to them throughout the whole game and so they were happy with that. So they got to be in the end zone during the game in this hot tub. I had two tickets to Alanis Morissette to use however I deemed fit. So I was just really trying to put this all together, what can we do? And if you don’t know arena football, it’s football meets hockey meets WWF wrestling. It’s very dramatic and showy and there are fireworks and loud, loud music and it’s a really fast game. And so I had that to kind of compete with, like it needed to be spectacular. And our demographics, I had to think about that. The demographics were men ages 15-16 to 25-26 and that’s our primary demographic. So I called a friend, a roommate, who I knew her little sister was in 4-H and I didn’t know what her capacity was, I just had my fingers crossed. And she said yeah, my little sister has a calf, you know like a baby steer. And I said do you think she can bring it downtown Minneapolis to The Target Center and she said yeah, she can do that. And she arranged it for me and it was really that easy. And I had this idea that I was going to take the Alanis Morissette concert tickets and tie them to the cow somehow and these fraternity brothers were going to chase the cow around the football field during the halftime show – that was the halftime show, to try to get the tickets off the cow. And the more I thought about it, I thought, okay that’s entertaining, but it would be more entertaining if it was a woman out of the hot tub who was chasing the cow. And this went against every moral fiber of my body. Not only were they terrifying this cow, who is not used to fireworks and loud music and astroturf and being chased by young men, but I’m thinking about putting a woman in a bikini running around and exploiting a woman as well for entertainment value. And I called a friend of mine who I knew wouldn’t look at it that way and she was excited to do it and tickled pink to do it and, of course, she got to sit in a hot tub full of fraternity brothers, you know, and that was good for her. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And free beer. TWOMEY: And free beer, yes. So, you know, that’s what I had to work with. And so the halftime show went off without a hitch and the crowd was crazy, it ended up on two news stations locally in the Twin Cities and the game was being broadcast on ESPN2 already. They didn’t show very many game clips, they showed the cow being chased by my friend in a bikini. And so it was this challenge I had that I did something really great for business, for the business I was working or volunteering for, but it went against every moral fiber of my body. And then the next day the owner of the team sought me out. This man is very prominent in the entertainment industry and I knew him by name but had never met him. And he shook my hand and he said Now that was the best halftime show I had ever seen or something along those lines and I was so proud. And as soon as he walked out my stomach hurt because it was – it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way and it, you know. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Now was that the first time you had ever had that feeling, like, this goes against everything and I feel icky with this? TWOMEY: No. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Okay. So you knew that feeling. TWOMEY: I knew it. I was able to ID it. And the other time that that had happened to me was also in arena football. And it was during a ticket sales campaign and there was a dad and his little boy who — we’re having the conversation about how expensive the tickets were, and it was like an open house kind of event and this little boy clearly needed a new pair of shoes. And my boss was kind of pushing me at the time to make the sale, close the sale, close the sale, close the sale, and I couldn’t do it, I walked away. And so it was that same kind of feeling that this is morally not okay and I can’t do that. Which was a good life lesson, because I learned that sales is not the avenue that I need to pursue as a career but service, you know, being of service and being helpful is something that makes me feel good. Here I was just newly graduated with a degree, specialty in sports management and I knew I needed to find a different way to apply my education because that, professional sports didn’t lend itself to being of service or — and the rest of my career has pretty much been in the service industry. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Since you got into the service work, doing work that by definition is to help people, have you ever felt that pit in your stomach again doing service work where you felt like oooh. TWOMEY: That’s a great question. I’m not sure. Nothing is glaring that comes to mind. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Different kind of challenges, but nothing that just really hit at your core of like uuuh I don’t know about this. TWOMEY: No, no. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: So it was a successful transition. TWOMEY: Yes, it was, it was, a great way to look at it. I think with trying to help people and be helpful or working in the service industry I’m so glad that I’m middle aged, because I think my experience has really, like I really feel like I’ve grown as a person, also as a servant in recognizing so many other pieces other than just my role as a volunteer coordinator or as an event coordinator working with people who want to help and be helpful. I think it not only — all of that experience has made me a better person and allowed me to learn so much about humans. Humans are pretty rad. They’re pretty interesting people. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Where do you think you’d be today if you had stayed with professional sports, sports management? TWOMEY: I don’t know. I think I’d be very unhappy. I think I would. It takes a really special person to work in any field and I know that would have been a bad fit for me. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: I am so excited that VolunteerPro is our sponsor. I have taken a webinar with them and it was seriously the best webinar I have ever experienced. Amazing content and helpful take home resources. If you work with volunteers you need this in your life. VolunteerPro is offering our listeners $100 off an annual membership. Go to volpro.net and use the promo code PROPOWER. That’s volpro.net, promo code PROPOWER. Thanks VolunteerPro! Now, back to our show. TWOMEY: Growing up I was always on a sports team or playing sports. I had wonderful coaches growing up, often the kind of relationships with those coaches that I shared things with them I didn’t share with my parents, you know. They were that confidant kind of person. And I have a lot of fond memories of playing sports growing up. So as a parent I always wanted my kids to at least try it, you know, if it’s not for them great, but let’s try it. And so I picked microsoccer. The microsoccer organization here in town really relies on parent volunteers to be the coaches. I’ve never played soccer in my life at this point. Never watched a soccer game. But I thought okay they’re three or four year olds, it can’t be that hard and the skillset needed is not huge. And I wanted to be a part of their sports experience. And so the first day, the first practice was a disaster, complete chaos. I had probably six three- and four-year olds and, you know, the object is to keep them engaged. And I learned that right away. I went in there with all these coaching plans like we’re going to run this drill and we’re going to talk about the rules of soccer and all of this and I had all these high expectations and I learned right away that that wasn’t the case. A good example, we were running a simple drill where there were like three or four cones and the kids had to zigzag in and out of the cones and then the ball was waiting for them right in front of the goal. And so they’d run as hard as they can and they kick that ball into the goal. Well it doesn’t take much to distract a three- or four-year old. You know, a butterfly is like a number one distractor on a soccer field. And shortly after we started the drill a little girl is like completely engulfed in this butterfly and she’s, you know, not paying attention and she takes off. And then pretty soon the other kids are looking, well where is she going. And I decided that we were all going to chase the butterfly. And this was my moment of transition as a coach of three- and four-year olds, that we’re all just going to chase the butterfly because that’s what they really want to do and they’re moving their bodies, they’re getting some exercise and maybe the chase the butterfly and then they come back and kick the ball into the goal. And so I had to really incorporate those kinds of things into the coaching. And sometimes the parents were okay with that and sometimes they weren’t, I would say it was like 50/50. And I had parents that would come up to me and say You know, the kids are chasing butterflies and I’d say and they really like butterflies and they’re running and they’re getting some exercise, I hope I’ve worn them out enough for you. And we’re not going to worry about the rules of the game right now or the fundamentals, that will all come later, you know, we want them to like soccer, that’s the goal here. I want you to like soccer and I want you to come to practice and be excited about it. And so the second practice I knew they were getting their uniforms and I brought puffy paint for them to all decorate their uniforms and the parents helped put the name on the back. And you know looking for that buy in, like trying to get them to buy into it and be connected and connected to each other and the parents on the sidelines to be connected to the kids. And the kids loved it and some of the parents liked it but a lot of the parents still were really all about, you know, when are you going to teach my kid how to pass the ball. Well, your kid’s not going to learn how to pass the ball until they’re like six, in reality, after watching the other kids on the field. And that’s what I finally started to tell the parents, like why don’t you go and walk around and see what the older kids are doing and what the other young kids are doing and if you see some drills that they’re doing that you think would be helpful bring it back to me. And so giving them a job was really helpful. And so it was not what I thought it was going to be walking in as a parent coach. I thought — I had all these grandiose ideas about how I was going to make a difference and how I was going to be the best coach ever and these kids were going to remember me ten years down the road. And some of the parents still remember me, but probably because of my unorthodox teaching skills. But I think as a leader, whether that’s being a volunteer coordinator or a group coordinator, I think that that taught me a lot of valuable lessons, those three year olds. You know, they teach you that you have to think on your feet, you have to be willing to switch directions and change your game plan and figure out what works for the collective whole and I find that today working with volunteers: everybody’s different, everybody’s there for a different reason, it provides different value for each person in their life. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Yeah, that story really resonates with me. I played soccer as a kid and I played with a very laid back soccer league. TWOMEY: Oh good. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: We went with the flow, we loved the pizza party and what I remember most about being a soccer player at age four was that we got to have snacks. TWOMEY: That’s it, exactly, right. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And I remember as I got older, for me soccer ended up meaning different things. I remember, I struggled with anxiety even as a little kid. And so I’d be seven or eight years old and I’d just be in a funk and just say oh I just don’t want to do anything right now, mom. And my mom would say just go to soccer because you know that when you get back you’ll feel better. And I wasn’t good at all, I was not a good soccer player, but just getting out and being outside and running around and seeing other kids, it just lifted my spirits. So I kind of did it almost as a medicine at that point. TWOMEY: Sure. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And I know that if I had had a coach that was really drilling into me all the fundamentals and the importance of the essential pieces to be the best soccer player ever probably wouldn’t have done as much good as the coaches that I had that just let me be me and get some exercise outside. So yeah I love that you were saying that people come, the kids even are coming for all their own reasons. TWOMEY: Yes. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And also managing those other stakeholders, the parents, who have their own priorities, their own reasons for being there. And the other thing I was thinking when you were mentioning following the butterfly, I like that metaphor. TWOMEY: Oh, the butterflies. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Because I think it’s also looking where the energy is, you know, you’ve got a group of people, whether they’re three-year olds or whether they’re citizens that care about litter, whatever they are, it’s like where is the energy because if you’re working with volunteers, you know, you’re going to really need to go with what people are motivated to spend their time and energy doing. And if you just keep trying to push them in one direction that they don’t want to go in, it’s not going to be very successful. TWOMEY: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. That’s a good metaphor. I like it. I like it too. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Well, that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to the first ever episode of Do Good, Be Good. It was a pleasure creating this for you. I really enjoyed hearing Maggie’s stories about her path towards service work and her lessons in managing expectations as a volunteer leader. For show notes on this episode, including a transcription of the episode, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. That is also where you can find the discount code for Volunteer Pro and more information about Do Good, Be Good. The next episode will launch next Wednesday, October 4th. I will be interviewing Joy Knudsen. Joy grew up in Finland and has a very touching story of the sacrifice she made in trying to help her son. Subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts in order to get the next episode when it comes out. Thanks again to Maggie Twomey for sharing her stories. Thank you also to my aunt Anne Bloom for transcribing the episode. This show was brought to you by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, as well as our host, Sun Sounds of Arizona. Every day Sun Sounds reads newspapers, magazines, books, and grocery ads to those who have vision loss, dyslexia, arthritis or another disability that prevents reading. Thanks, Sun Sounds. You can learn more about them at SunSounds.org. The post #1 (Rebroadcast) From Chasing Calves to Chasing Butterflies appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
36 minutes | 4 months ago
#54 How volunteering is different from protesting and much more
In 2018, Luis Fernandez wrote “Disband, Disempower, and Disarm” about the Defund the Police movement and the first wave of the Black Lives Matter movement. It wasn’t until a few months ago that the article gained a large audience and Luis started doing interviews on mainstream media sites. In this episode, we talk about how this has affected Luis as well as how he thinks about his work as an academic and his role in social movements. Luis was first a guest on this show in episode 6, Who made you President of the non-violent intervention? with his partner Mare. That episode includes a few incredible stories from their experience over the past few decades of being involved in movements of multiple kinds. Luis also speaks about his childhood in Nicaragua and how that shaped his perspective. If you haven’t listened to that episode or you want to refresh your memory, you can listen here: https://sharonspeaks.com/6-made-president-nonviolent-intervention/ Mentioned in this episode: “Disband, Disempower, and Disarm” in Critical Criminology by Luis Fernandez End of Policing by Alex Vitale Economic podcast about Defund the Police Article with interview with Luis in local paper Article with interview with Luis in McGill Daily 00:00 Luis Fernandez: There’s lots of complications in being in movements because they can absorb all of your energy, all of your time, all of your emotions, your dedication. [music] 00:18 S?: This is Do good, Be good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackling rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:37 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Hello, I’m your host Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. And the other voice you heard at the top of the episode is our guest for today. Luis Fernandez. Luis was a guest on our show in the first season, episode six. During that episode, I actually interviewed him and his partner Mayer together about their decades of involvement in social movements. He shared some incredible stories about growing up in Nicaragua and some of the protests that he has witnessed in Mexico and Arizona. And Luis has participated in many movements, but he also studies movements as a professor of criminal justice at Northern Arizona University. And in 2018, he wrote a paper titled Disband, Disempower and Disarm, about the first wave of the Black Lives Matter movement and their call for the abolition of police. We talked about that some in today’s episode, and he can’t remember the title. [chuckle] So if you’re wondering what it is, it’s Disband, Disempower and Disarm. And I do have a link to it in the show notes. 01:41 ST: Just a couple of things I want you to know before I get started into the interview. First, I interviewed Luis on July 27th, outside in my backyard at more than 10 feet apart. The birds, especially the ravens, were very active that afternoon, so you will be able to hear them in the background. And although our conversation was basically two months ago now, the subject matter is just as true and relevant today. Also, I wanna let you know that the focus of our conversation is more about Luis’ career and his perspective, and it’s less about what the Defund the Police or Abolish the Police movement is actually about. I did that intentionally because Luis has already been interviewed several times by different news outlets who want an explanation of the movement and its arguments. In fact, he talks about that in his episode, I have linked to a few of those sources in the show notes for the episode. And I highly recommend that you read those or you go to other trusted sources to get more information about the Defund the Police and Black Lives Matter movement. But I do hope that our conversation adds another layer and further depth to the conversation and gives you a look inside Luis’ approach to his work. So thank you for listening to Do good, Be good. And here’s my conversation with Luis Fernandez. 03:07 LF: About two years ago, I co-authored a paper with a friend of mine, titled, I forget what it’s titled, something like Disband, Disarm, something… I should know, but I… I forget. And it’s about abolishing the police. We wrote it, I thought it was pretty good at the time, but there was nothing. You put it out into the world and nothing occurs, like six people referenced it and that was it. And nothing. I was like, “Alright, whatever that happens when you write something.” And then after this whole barrage of things that occurred and all the protest, it actually went viral, and lots of people began to read it. So all of a sudden, I entered the media again, and people were… So I’ve been doing about two interviews a week for the last couple of months. 03:54 ST: Yeah. And that’s definitely one thing I wanted to talk to you about. Yeah, I wanted to know how having a subject matter and a background in something that is now extremely relevant, and that a lot of people want to know a lot about, has affected you personally. 04:09 LF: Yeah, two things, one, that it was really interesting to watch this thing just catch, because it was about abolishing the police. But it was really much about describing the previous BLM movement and how they were engaging in this notion of abolishing the police, and to me it was very interesting, so I just wrote about it. And all of a sudden it comes… It blows up and everybody’s looking like, “We need to read something about this. What is this?” And there’s not a lot written about it, turns out that there’s an article and there’s a book and… Somebody else wrote a book, and… But there’s not very many. So then what I understand is that there was some national list, for activists’ list, and that it showed up in one of those, and then it just went like wildfire all through the US. So I was getting phone calls from friends saying, “Hey, my son had your article forward to by a stranger,” just saying… So that was just making the rounds and it was just ending up… I don’t know, just whatever, you know how it is, that stuff. How it just goes wherever it goes. 05:10 ST: So are you like the academic equivalent of the White Fragility book? 05:18 LF: Not quite, because that’s way bigger. 05:19 ST: Okay. [chuckle] 05:20 LF: So I think… 05:21 ST: It’s like, “Where on the scale of these book lists and reading lists that everyone’s sharing are you at?” 05:25 LF: Exactly, I would say, “Very low on that.” So in other words, it went viral, but small viral, not like, “Ga-boom viral.” I have a friend who wrote a book titled, The End of Policing. His name is Alex Vitale, very, very good book, that one went viral with a capital V. So he ended up on CNN, in The Guardian, and like everywhere. So this little paper was a little less… A little more… Which actually, to be honest with you, I’m okay with because the… What happens is a little intense. 05:55 ST: Well, you do hope that maybe you’re getting some self-selecting, that the people who have made it to your paper are maybe the ones who really are digging deep into the topic and want that greater context and that academic side of it. 06:09 LF: Yeah. 06:09 ST: But it also has been making… I’ve been seeing those lists and it’s also been helping me think about the importance of what you title something. 06:17 LF: Yeah. 06:17 ST: Like some of these titles are just so to the point that it’s like, “I want to be an anti-racist. How to be an anti-racist.” Great. Let’s get that book and start there. 06:28 LF: Exactly. And then I know, I should know the title. It’s… Oh, I’m not gonna remember it. But the title is really… It came out of things that the movement was demanding, the first BLM movement, and let’s call this one the second wave, the first wave, and I found it really curious, it’s like, “Wow, look, they’re actually focusing on police. That’s really, relatively new, from what I’ve seen, I haven’t seen it before,” and I just wrote it as an academic like, “Hey, look at this, you guys, this is curious.” And then of course, it blows up. But it was their terminology, not mine, it wasn’t my… So it was their terminology, and I put it in quotes, we put it in the title intentionally, because it’s like, “We’re not making this… This isn’t our language.” And then of course, that same language was revived and so it like, “Oh look, you’re prophetic.” It’s like, “No, I’m not. I was just echoing what people were saying, and then it turns out that everybody just picked up on what the movement was saying already,” so… 07:27 ST: How many years ago was that, the first wave of the BLM movement was, and that you also were writing this paper? 07:34 LF: I was trying to think. The paper was published in, I think, 2018. The first wave is, what, 2015, maybe? I can’t remember right now. Yeah, about 2015, when we see the Black Lives Matter movements, and they spread all over the place and all of that, maybe five, six years ago. And then it kinda settles down and then it comes back with a vengeance. So you asked me how this thing going small viral, how it changed, or how it affected my life. Well, it’s kinda interesting, because I… We wrote this, it goes all over the place, people start to read it, a friend of mine reads it and says, “Do you wanna be… Do you wanna do an interview on PBS for this particular thing?” And I was like, “Yeah, why not?” And then that shows up in the media, and then once you show up in the media in a relatively established place, it just all of a sudden, other reporters pick you up. 08:35 LF: So then what happened is that I’m speaking, I’m engaging in that, and all of a sudden, other reporters get to see this thing, they do a little research, see the paper, so they do an interview, which adds to it, which means that another… That my name shows up even sooner when they do a search, and then pretty soon I’m doing really weird little things like interviews with NPR in Montana or something, or BBC International. So since, I did an interview, it only showed up in Europe, it doesn’t show up… I don’t think I even saw where that ended up. So the way that it’s affected me is that I’ve had to be talking and developing ideas very quickly that as things are developing and then speaking with a variety of people, so those interviews, and thinking, and being required to speak quickly about these issues, allowed me to develop a set of talking points that I now can deliver really quickly. 09:31 ST: And so now I’m just gonna get geeky on the business side, and having worked for the university before and then started a business myself, and it’s a business that relies on intellectual property. Is this part… Do you consider it, or does the university consider it part of your work, as a staff member in NAU? 09:52 LF: Yeah, definitely. It’s part of being a public intellectual. So it’s part of a tradition in the social sciences in relation to what you do, is that you do research and then you speak to people and you engage with your ideas publicly. At the same time, it doesn’t count for a lot in relation to, for promotion or for evaluations from the faculty. You can count it, but it’s not counted a lot to be in the media, so it’s not rewarded heavily, it’s just something you can list on there, but it’s not that big of a deal. What it does do is that it creates… It gives you a certain kind of cultural capital, some cache, that it’s invisible… That it seems invisible. So all of a sudden, there’s a little bit more respect, and nobody ever says it, it’s never in writing, but as a social scientist, I’ve noticed it, and I was like, “Oh, I see how this works.” So there’s this unwritten rule that there’s this whole thing that is never… And nowhere in the writings of how you get evaluated or what’s expected of you, but if it actually… If it does occur, everything else actually counts more. So I was like, “Okay, so that’s how it works.” 10:57 ST: More people are throwing your name around. 11:00 LF: Exactly. You kinda get known, and there’s just a little weird, little academic… Academic economy, right? The economy, it doesn’t run on money necessarily… I mean, it does, and for some people they do that, but it runs on reputation and respect and legitimacy, and when you have those things, it gives you a little bit of that, and I found that to be the case. 11:21 ST: So would you be allowed to, would you have any desire to start… If you started a YouTube channel, for example. 11:29 LF: Yeah, that’s a good idea. The other part is that, having a public presence is a double-edged sword, and I understand that it sometimes is beneficial and it’s good to get ideas out. In certain moments, I have to take the… Sorry, it’s a bird, just kinda flew and threw something. Okay. Let me start that again. 11:52 ST: They’re very active. 11:54 LF: I know. It’s really funny. So let me start that again. I think that being in the media has a double-edged sword, it brings some things, and it’s important, it’s also important to put ideas out that are not out there. So when the whole police defunding thing came out, there are friends of mine that are engaging in that, but there weren’t very many. So it was like, “Okay, so I’m gonna have to speak out on this, because I actually understand it, I’ve been writing about it, I… So therefore, I’m gonna go out there and explain the concept and how it functions, for anybody who’s puzzled about it.” At the same time, when you speak in the things that I am interested in, it’s like playing with fire. So that means that there are… It’s usually very hot. By the time they start asking me, it means that it’s really hot, and that means that it draws particular kinds of attentions, and sometimes it’s not good attention. So it’ll be the right wing or the… 12:46 LF: The right wing will… If you get caught up into their circles and into their little thing and you get their attention, then you’re gonna get death threats and phone calls and emails and harassment and all those kinds of things that happen, that has happened to me, so I know [chuckle] that that occurs. And I also have seen it happen to many people. In fact, I’m engaging in a research project where we’re trying to document that happening, and we’ve interviewed about 25 faculty that has happened to. There’s a hesitancy for me to be like, yeah, we can do a YouTube channel. It’s like, yeah, but I do this, but I don’t wanna do too much of it. [chuckle] 13:19 ST: Right. 13:20 LF: Because I don’t wanna get picked up by the wrong audience. 13:25 ST: Yeah, and I think if you also maybe if you shift from being an expert who’s an academic who’s written about this and researched it, to being a YouTube personality who may also have the ability of whether or not you do to profit off of it, then that probably puts even more of a target on you. 13:48 LF: Yeah. I don’t know, when you said a YouTube personality, it made me think of the teenagers’ personalities. [chuckle] 13:53 ST: Yeah, exactly. 13:53 LF: I could see myself with dreadlocks or something, pretending to be a teenager. Sorry, it’s the comical view. The one thing that… I’m lucky that I have a job and I teach and I administer and I do that, and then part of my job, so parts percentages, 30% of my job is to think and write, that money allows me to have a living and make a living. So looking for other ways to earn money is not a big priority. And that’s just pure by luck, by the way, that is a complete privilege, luck. That could change, by the way. So I’m gonna keep in mind this idea of a YouTube channel. 14:32 ST: I guess part of what’s circling around this question for me for years, and particularly the last three years, is I’ve made the transition from working in non-profits and government to starting my own business, is like the interesting ethical and social questions around, okay, so you’re speaking out on something that matters, you’re able to explain it in a way that not very many people understand. It’s a high demand right now. People actually want this knowledge that you have. You certainly have an option to monetize that if you chose to. 15:09 LF: I’ve never even thought of it. [chuckle] 15:13 ST: And then how does that change the purpose and the meaningfulness and the righteousness, if you will, about… And then you’re in a unique situation where you are just helping to explain something that actually is the hard work of the people from the BLM movement. So it’s not even… 15:32 LF: Mine, exactly. I am aware. [chuckle] 15:34 ST: So then there’s that other layer of like, if you did choose to monetize it because you’re the one who’s getting all these requests to speak on it, then that’s a whole another layer of the ethics around that and everything else. 15:46 LF: Yeah, I mean, it’s funny because I was thinking… As you said that I was like, I’ve never even thought of it. But the reality is that I have thought of it, but not in those terms, meaning that… I mean, we live in a capitalist world and that’s the reality, right? That is the way that it’s structured, regardless of how we feel about it, that is… We have to exist in that world. In that particular world, in academia, it’s set up in such a way that it rewards me relatively okay, and by that relatively, I mean I’m not wealthy beyond means, but I’m not poor anymore. And I know because I was poor, I grew up poor. I know what poor feels like. I haven’t been poor for 15 years, thank goodness. [chuckle] 16:28 LF: So it allows me the freedom to not… The privilege, I guess I would say, not freedom. The privilege to not have to think about that. Meaning that I can engage in the things that I’m engaging, I am set up in a particular kind of way, I know that I gotta teach, I gotta be relatively good at that. I’ve gotta engage in all the things that are required in the university, and then I’ve got this other piece that I can then do that allows me to do this thing, and I don’t have to think of it in relation to making money because that is the thing that I provide almost like a service, as a public servant at the university. Part of what I do then is I should give all this other stuff for free. At the same time, I think I shouldn’t pretend like it doesn’t work this way in the sense that doing that stuff doesn’t reinforce and make my job more secure. [chuckle] So in a way, I am “monetizing” it, but I’m monetizing it differently than actually the money that comes out of that particular situation, rather the legitimacy that that particular gives me gives me more security on my job that is on a regular basis. That I’ve thought about, because I’m smart enough to not wanna be poor. [chuckle] 17:43 LF: Not smart, I mean I’m scared enough having been poor to not wanna be poor, to be like, “Okay, I need to make sure that I stay relatively secure.” 17:52 ST: Yeah, well, and part of why it comes to mind, particularly with this BLM movement, is that I know that a lot of people who had been speaking out on these issues, particularly people of color, were suddenly elevated into a spotlight when this hit mainstream media. And I heard from many people in my circles, it was mostly women of color who were talking about anti-racism and issues like that, and in context of BLM, and they were fighting these issues of like, “Wait a second.” [chuckle] In their case they were like, “This is not my job. I have another job. I just have been thinking about these issues for a long time because they personally matter to me and I’m a thoughtful person, and suddenly I’m being asked to even just tell friends or family, explain it to them.” And then there was this interesting dialogue that was happening around whether people should be paid for that, if you’re educating a whole group of friends and acquaintances about racism, and that’s not your job, then should you be compensated in some way or should you… It did sort of cycle in with how that gets monetized in different ways, or how people place value on it, and then, who gets value from that. 19:16 LF: Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with. That’s such a… I mean, because when movements arise and when people enter movements and sometimes leadership is thrust on them, the drives for that are often not personal. [chuckle] Meaning that they’re not about the individual. But that doesn’t mean that the individual needs to go away because you don’t have… You can’t pay rent, you can’t pay rent. And even if you’re engaging in let’s say a rent strike and you’re thinking, “Hey, we gotta engage in this because it’s the right thing to do.” You still gotta pay rent and you still gotta engage even, yeah. Yeah, I don’t know how to engage with that. Sorry, I’ve been involved in movements for a long time, for probably 20 years at this point and watching people engage in a variety of ways, and have been engaged sometimes full-time, and I’ve managed to survive partly because I was always in school and I was always… I could always grab the education, and as long as I was moving forward with that, I could carve out time to do this other thing, and still moving in this particular education direction, that was like my trick that I learned, but I was not very good at making money, but I was really good at thinking and writing and actually moving forward through… And moving through the educational institution, I was somehow… That came easy. 20:37 LF: So to me it was like, “Well, keep doing that because that seems easy compared to working at a job that requires… That’s much harder.” So I was like, “Okay, so keep doing that.” And in that, I was always able to carve time. I do have to say that when I was doing my dissertation, I had a fellowship that this… I won’t mention the group, gave me, that allowed me… That gave me money to survive for a year, gave me $10,000 and I could actually live on six. I had figured out that’s alright, I can live on six. I was 25, it’s like, “No problem, I can live.” I was a little older but yeah. And so, $10,000 is like what? I could live for a couple of years with this amount of money, and this was during the Iraq war, there was a mobilization and movement. And then I proceeded to not finish my dissertation because I was organizing in the movement almost full time, which I was also trying to study, because I was studying social movements. 21:33 LF: So it was kind of a study experience kind of thing, but in reality, I was actually totally immersed in it. And I was able to then do that, educate, be doing that, but be funded through it. I mean, they didn’t fund me to do that, they funded me to do my dissertation. The money runs out, of course, and the dissertation was still due. So then I had to take on some other jobs to finish and then stop. By the way, I have to stop being involved in movements, otherwise, I wouldn’t have finished my dissertation. Sorry, this is a long way of… 22:03 ST: No. 22:04 LF: Answering your question of saying, there’s lots of complications in being in movements because they can absorb all of your energy, all of your time, all of your emotions, your dedication, because most like… If you’re either engaging in an anti-war and you’re trying to stop a war, or you’re trying to stop the killing of young men by police, or you’re engaging in environmental issues, trying to stop a forest from being destroyed or whatever it is, it’s something that you’re doing because it’s deeply embedded in you and there’s a passion and a desire for justice. 22:40 LF: And you can find yourself in trouble because that generally doesn’t pay, regardless of what people think, there’s not like Soros isn’t given enough money for everybody to be able to live a life of organizing for the rest of their lives and driving cattle. I don’t know, whatever ridiculous thing people think. It’s actually the other way around. People are barely making it and they’re dedicated. So the question of whether they should be engaging that, whether they should be rewarded and supported, the answer is a 100%. The problem is, once you begin to think of it as a commodity, something that needs to be commoditized and then monetized, my guess is that things would get distorted very quickly, very, very quickly. I heard a podcast recently about a woman that… A young black woman that put out this things as a joke, but then it grew, where she said, “Hey, I’m a black person, and as a white person, you feel guilty, and your guilt doesn’t do anything. But you know what does something? I can’t pay my rent. So send me a check.” So it was a joke. They put this as a joke. 23:51 ST: Yeah, yeah, I heard that podcast. She was like, “Pay me and I will absolve you of your white guilt.” 23:54 LF: Exactly, that’s right. That’s what it was. “I will be your priest. I will absolve you.” 23:58 ST: Yeah, and she would literally go on and be like, “George Brown, you are absolved.” 24:03 LF: That’s right. And she would write something. 24:05 ST: Thank you for the $100. 24:05 LF: And I think the first few, she actually wrote it in xscript or something and sent it to them, and then eventually she ended up making a whole bunch of money, which is really funny. You know, like, “Hey, people wanna give you money? Okay, take it.” The other one was a little… There was another one though, where the young woman was… It’s another woman, I think, if I remember correctly, that I felt had a little more trouble with, because I think she was taking it more ser… The fact that it’s a joke makes me comfortable. [laughter] She was like, “Oh come… Oh yeah, do that.” But if you do this… 24:40 ST: Yeah, it’s like performance art, almost. 24:41 LF: Exactly. It’s like, “Yeah, this is… ” But there was another one that was like he was providing suggestions or something and it was very serious… 24:48 ST: Sort of coaching people through it. 24:50 LF: Yeah, I don’t know. I had a little more trouble with that because what she was saying, I was like, “Whoa, I’m not sure I’m agreeing with your analysis of race and how to deal with racism. So now, I’m a little more uncomfortable because I think you’re actually might be causing more trouble.” But yeah, so that’s my short answer. 25:08 ST: Yeah. Well… And I’ve thought about this probably more than most people, just because I started my career as a volunteer manager, so I’ve thought a lot about the value of work and why people volunteer and how people get value out of doing things voluntarily. And then, how that either is built up to feel more meaningful to them, or how it sours, and people get resentful when they feel like they’re being taken advantage of. And so, I’ve just sort of informally studied that for 15 years. And I haven’t been on the political or protest movement side of things, but there’s similarities, and there’s differences. But that similarity of the amount of time that you’re voluntarily giving to something and the passion that’s driving it and feeling like you wanna keep doing this thing, but at the same time, you do have to figure out how to also live at the same time as you’re trying to pursue that thing that’s so central to you. 26:12 LF: I think there’s a lot of commonalities, I think, as you’re… One of them is, like you said, the passion, because this is driven out of passion. And it’s driven out of care and connection with other human beings and wanting to do good. Whether you do good or not, that’s a different question, but the desire to do good in the world. So it’s driven by that. The differences might be that in movements there’s a little more anger, there’s a lot more adrenaline, [chuckle] a lot more. [chuckle] There is more confrontation, because movements are generally about conflict. They require… Not require, but one of the central components has to be some conflictual situation. Somebody has gotta be named as an enemy, somebody’s gotta be doing an injustice. 26:55 ST: And it’s generally also about, I think, a dismantling of the status quo. So there’s this change element that’s so central to it, but it’s also… I think, inherent in that is the potential to be uncomfortable. Because it’s like you’re taking what everybody grew up with, and you’re saying, “That’s not good enough,” or, “That’s not gonna stand any more, or there’s inherent inequality in it.” But that also means that… I mean, you grew up in that system too, so you’re hefting to dismantle something that, even if it’s unjust, there’s a little bit of safety in it, ’cause at least you know the system as you’re dismantling it. 27:30 LF: Absolutely. There’s a level of wanting to change the status quo, and change in general, often not knowing what that change looks like or where it goes. So often it’s just a demand for… Like a, “No, stop this.” It’s like, “What’s next?” And that’s what I get a lot, is like, “So tell us, what does a world… ” I get this question every single time. “Tell us, what does a world without police look like?” And it’s like, “I have no idea. I don’t… I’m telling you what people are demanding and what they’re engaging with.” But that’s probably similar to asking, prior to the Civil War, “What does the world look like without slavery?” It’s like, “I’m sure people couldn’t necessarily answer. How are we gonna restructure the economy without the slave?” I don’t know. The issue is that slavery’s wrong, so it’s gotta end. So don’t ask me to imagine the world. Here’s… 28:22 LF: And I think around policing is similar. So it’s kinda like, “What does the world look like without police?” I have no idea. “Can it exist?” I don’t… My guess is yes, because it existed… Because police are historical, so they started at a particular point, which means that they can end at another point. So… Which is anything that’s historical starts, and everything that’s historical ends. Now, what does the world look like after that? I can give you some clues and some thoughts, but I think that’s something that has to be developed by people. So in terms of movements, it’s the same. They give a no and people are like, “Well, what do we do next?” And people are like, “We don’t know,” and that causes enormous amount of anxiety. Because it’s like, “Wait, I don’t… ” Like you said, “At least the world with police, I understand. What is this other world?” 29:10 ST: Yeah, it reminds me of what I learned in just… On the micro-level of conflict resolution when I was learning about mediating when I was a supervisor. And I learned about basically how, if you are trying to resolve a conflict on a interpersonal level, you have to stay in the uncomfortable space where you’re still learning about all the pieces of the conflict, you’re still picking it apart and really making sure you understand it from all sides before you move to problem-solving, and that’s where so many conflicts don’t get resolved adequately, because people are so uncomfortable in the part where they have to pick apart all the things that make this situation difficult and see it from different perspectives, that they go, “But wait, I think we can solve this.” [chuckle] Like, “I think I can make it better for you. How about a raise?” [chuckle] They just quickly move to problem-solving. And then because they didn’t spend enough time in that tension, they missed a piece, and then they’ve put a Band-aid on it, but then people are like, “Oh,” now, two months later, they’re resentful, ’cause whatever that underlying piece was never got handled, because it never really saw the light of day. 30:24 LF: Yeah. As a manager, I use this. I do this a lot. I try to understand the complexity. And as a thinker, I think, I tend to… When I analyze things, I think in this way. Social movements don’t always work that way. Meaning that social movements often work almost the opposite, because… And they’re collective. So there’s a difference between interpersonal and really big forces of multiple people. I think interpersonally, that is the only way to work. [chuckle] Because otherwise, it’s… Oh, my God, you just have lots of problems, if you don’t resolve and not try to understand and try to map. At the movements, what they… Sometimes they tend to do, is they tend to bifurcate positions intentionally, strongly, and force you to take one side or the other; intentionally with no compromise. 31:17 LF: So again, just looking at the Abolitionist movement, the Slave Abolitionist movement, is a perfect example of this. So they come in, there’s debates within the Abolitionist movement, but some of the stronger positions come in and say, “Slavery is wrong under moral terms, under religious… ” They were religious people. “Under religious terms, this is a wrong thing that we have to oppose.” And then some people would be like, “Okay, that’s really good. But let’s just negotiate, and let’s figure out how to get the South and the North engage in some way so that we can,” and they’re like, “No, no, no, no, no. We can’t negotiate slavery.” 31:52 LF: It’s like, “Well, give it some time. Maybe if we could incrementally make these moves that incrementally we will eliminate slavery in 50 years, and like, “No, we cannot engage in this”. So they’re intentionally bifurcated and created a situation whereby you could not negotiate slavery. And that is a political position that I see in movements sometimes. So in relation to the policing, it’s like they kinda go, “Abolish the police? What does that mean? I don’t know.” It’s just what you need to do. You need to engage and it’s like, “How does that function?” “We don’t know, it’s just morally wrong.” And if they convince enough people, it starts to move. What I’ve been doing when I’ve been interviewed on this and talking about this, what I’ve been doing is explaining the logic. And then saying, “Let me explain to you the logic of why this occurs in this way, why they’re using this,” and I can quickly switch to the opposite side. 32:47 LF: So that means that I can switch to the opposite side and give you the logic of why you shouldn’t do this. And then it’ll be up to you, but I will need to show you that there are coherent internal arguments if you agree with the assumptions that each side is making, you’ll agree with the rest of the argument. But, see, now I’m doing what you were talking about in terms of the interpersonal, as an academic, I tend to do that, which is like, “Yeah, I’m not necessarily gonna push strongly for one position, even though I have a strong position inside, but what I need to do is make you understand that the radical position has a logic and a coherence to it, that it’s not insane.” It is logical, you’re just disagreeing, not with his insanity, you’re disagreeing with his fundamental assumptions. 33:36 ST: I’ve been getting carried away and I’m talking to you longer than I usually would, so I apologize for just absorbing all your time and taking us over. But thank you so much for your time and for letting me just go where my mind went. [laughter] 33:52 LF: It’s fun. I like talking about this. I’ve been doing a lot of this, and everybody’s always apologizing like, “We’re sorry, we’re taking your time.” It’s like, “You’re taking my time to talk about the one thing that I’ve obsessed over for the last 20 years? Do you think I’m gonna mind? No.” So. 34:08 ST: Yeah, convenient, but that’s what everyone wants to talk about right now. 34:11 LF: Exactly. And it’ll go away, by the way. It’s happened before. I felt this wave several times, so when movements arise, all of a sudden I’m interesting, and then when they decline, there’s many years where it’s like, “Whatever you’re doing is not very interesting”. But I know that it’s like… It’s a cycle. 34:28 ST: Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. And thank you again, Luis, for coming and sharing your thoughts and your story. For show notes on all of the episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. I will have a new episode coming soon with Maggie Twomey. Maggie was actually my first ever guest on the show, and I’m really excited to have her back on years later. To subscribe to the podcast for free so that you get each episode as soon as it is released, just search for Do Good, Be Good in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Music, or your podcast app of choice. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is Bathed In Fine Dust by Andy G Cohen, released under a Creative Commons Attribution International license and discovered in the Free Music Archive. Until next time, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, signing off. [music] The post #54 How volunteering is different from protesting and much more appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
30 minutes | 4 months ago
#53 When a COVID Testing Site Is One of the Best Places to Work
This episode is surprisingly full of laughter, hope, and fun anecdotes, while also giving you insights into what it has been like to work in public health during a global pandemic. Last time we spoke to Sydney she was teaching teens about healthy relationships. With a job in public health, Sydney shifted over to the COVID testing site when it opened in Coconino County in March. When I interviewed her in July, she was still working there almost full time. For a full transcript of the episode, read below. 00:01 Sharon Tewksbury-bloom: I feel like we’re far enough in this now that I’m trying to remember all those lessons I learned at the beginning. [chuckle] 00:06 Sydney Tulchinsky: Yes, yes. Like, “That’s like early COVID. Interesting.” 00:10 ST: Right, right yeah. [laughter][music] 00:20 Speaker 3: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:41 ST: Hello. I’m your host, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. The other voice you heard at the top of the episode is our guest for today, Sydney Tulchinsky. Sydney has been a guest on the show before in episode 38. That time, we talked about her work in teen pregnancy prevention. Well, since the pandemic started, her work has changed a lot. Her job is in the Public Health Department, so that means that, as she’ll explain during our conversation, she got pulled into COVID response work very early on. And just a few things that I want you to know before we get started that’ll help clarify. First, I interviewed Sydney on July 19th outside in our backyard at more than 10 feet apart. Everything we discuss in this episode is still relevant, but I just wanted to put that into context. Also, we mentioned our spouses at one point. Mine is Jay and hers is Steven, so that is who we were talking about if it’s not already clear. And finally, when she refers to Fort Tuthill, that is the name of the COVID testing site here in Coconino County, where we live. Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good, and here is my conversation with Sydney Tulchinsky. So how are you? 01:57 ST: Fine. [chuckle] I really am fine. I think I’m just experiencing regular fatigue of the situation, like everyone is. Nothing too terrible, knock on wood, has happened. 02:08 ST: Well, and on a happy note, it’s been so long since we’ve talked that you got married since we talked last, or since we talked face-to-face. 02:17 ST: Legally I got married, yeah. 02:19 ST: Yeah, you made it official with a courthouse. 02:20 ST: Which is funny, we got married on March 13th and on March 16th, the world shut down. Which March 13th was a Friday the 13th, so we always joked that like, “We did this. [chuckle] This is our fault.” 02:30 ST: Was there thought in the timing of that? 02:33 ST: Yeah. We’ve been together 11… It was our 11th anniversary that day. We were friends who were roommates who lived together who were in love who started dating. Our first date was a Friday the 13th in March. 02:49 ST: Nice. 02:50 ST: And we always joked, “Next time the March 13th is a Friday, we’ll get married,” but that happened six years in and we were like, “Oh, oops, we forgot about that silly plan, so we’ll just do rings.” So we exchanged rings and did engagement at that time, and then five years again later is when it happened this time. So we planned to get married on that day legally, regardless of when the wedding… We were doing our wedding… We were supposed to do our wedding the first weekend in May, which did not happen because of this. But we did our courthouse wedding March 13th and had a tiny little party with local friends, and my mother is the only family member who was there because really the big wedding was supposed to be later. So that’s a bummer, but at least we got a little party. I look at everyone’s struggles… That’s why I feel like I have to say, my COVID experience hasn’t been as bad as a lot of people’s. It’s stressful and scary and sad, but I am still working and so is Steven and we’re just pretty lucky. 03:51 ST: I feel like you and Steven are sort of Jay and I, but reverse. He hasn’t stopped working. He’s worked full-time and he’s gone to work every day in terms of… 04:04 ST: And where is he again? 04:06 ST: He is working as an electrician. So especially for the first several weeks, in a way he didn’t get it ’cause everything… 04:13 ST: His life didn’t change that much? 04:16 ST: Yeah, his life didn’t change and everything was the same. And your work is… You’re obviously in it, so you’re not not getting it. You totally know what’s going on. 04:25 ST: It changed and didn’t change. Everything changed, but also I’m still working for the same place. 04:30 ST: Yeah, and still working full-time and all that and still leaving the house. And then yeah, me and… Well, I don’t know if Steven’s still meeting with clients a lot, but I know I’m doing most stuff from home now. 04:42 ST: He is a bit. 04:44 ST: Well, everything from home now. Okay, so you got married March 13th, going back in time, an auspicious date that means a lot to a lot of people now. That’s the day my sister and brother-in-law stopped working, so they have not worked since then ’cause they work on Broadway. 05:02 ST: Oh yeah. 05:04 ST: Yeah, that’s the day Broadway closed. You did not take a honeymoon. [chuckle] 05:08 ST: No, no. Our wedding was supposed to be in Rocky Point, Mexico, and it was supposed to encompass… We were gonna stay for a long time after. 05:20 ST: So you went back to work on Monday? 05:22 ST: Yup. [laughter] 05:25 ST: And when did work start to change for you? 05:28 ST: That Monday. That was the day spring break started for the schools around here, and everyone kind of had this conversation like, “What’s gonna happen after spring break?” And what Coconino County Health started doing was that’s when they opened the testing site at Fort Tuthill, was March 16th. Because my job is school-based, I was a natural candidate to go volunteer work, work at the site. At least in my mind, at least for the week of spring break, until we know what’s happening, right? 06:02 ST: All the schools were closed. 06:04 ST: I was like, “Yeah, I have a whole week where I can do a different job.” And then little did we know, 16 weeks later or something, I would still be working at Fort Tuthill and the schools would still be closed. Well, now it’s summer. But we never went back to school. And the testing site became really essentially everyone’s job, everyone in the Health and Human Services… I shouldn’t say that, this is an unofficial thing, but almost everyone who works at Health and Human Services and other parts of the county is in some way related to working somehow for the response to COVID. Either for testing or surveillance, or contact tracing or investigations, or helping deliver meals to populations who need shelter during this time. So there’s a lot of jobs going on that are brand new jobs that we never had before. [chuckle] 06:55 ST: Right. That has been your job site now ever since? 06:57 ST: Yeah, so the first… Until the beginning of May, so the first three months I was full-time at Fort Tuthill, doing data entry in real time for patients who come in. It’s a podcast, what am I typing in the air doing data entry. [chuckle] So patients would come in and get tested and I would in real time put them in the system, and in the beginning of May, I broke my toe, just walking around the house and broke it broke it, not like a fracture, I had to go to the ER at night and have it reset. [chuckle] That was an adventure. I was on the floor in my bedroom with a broken toe being like, “I don’t wanna go to the ER. What else can I do?” We’re looking at my toe, which is at like a 90 degree angle to the other toe so I’m like, “We have to go.” 07:46 ST: You’re like, looking at your toe with one eye and looking at YouTube for the other of like, how do you set a broken toe at home. [chuckle] 07:52 ST: Right? I really thought about it. I was like, “It can’t be that hard.” But I couldn’t touch it. It was too painful. So after that, I switched to a different team where I call people with their results or I… I’m on the surveillance team, so now I look at results and help classify them in the system or I call people who have negative results depending on what’s needed that day, I do different things. And I alternate now so I’m only two days a week at Fort Tuthill, and three days a week at home, doing something to do with the COVID cases and also trying to also work on my real job, which is teen pregnancy prevention to an extent, but that’s very little right now, so… That’s my work right now. 08:35 ST: Well, that’s fascinating. You mentioned just not feeling like this was going to be your job permanently, but… 08:42 ST: Yeah. 08:42 ST: Anything in terms of what it felt like to start that type of work and what it felt like at the beginning? 08:49 ST: Yeah, at the beginning, it was very chaotic for all of the scenarios and planning that emergency management does. They never ran a scenario where we were in charge of a testing site. So they had a lot of stuff in place, but not this one thing. And so I was there the day we set up Fort Tuthill, the day we figured out the system, the day we partnered with FMC, and the nurses came, and some of those nurses were involved in the Ebola response many years ago. So they taught us how to Don and Doff PPE with scary seriousness, and we’re all like, “Pandemics are scary, this is crazy. What’s happening?” And they’re like, “Take it seriously. This is how you Don and Doff PPE,” and we’re like, “Okay.” And then things really settled, it got to this really reliable team of like 5-10 of us, half county people, half FMC people, and it honestly became for a while, it was like this cohort of us who… This was our place full-time to be at Fort Tuthill. 10:00 ST: We all got to know each other really well. They threw me a wedding on the day I was supposed to have my wedding, they decorated Fort Tuthill like a Mexican party. [chuckle] Shout out to Rob who works for Parks and Rec, because he’s our Fort Tuthill guy. His wife made me a wedding cake, and they made salsa from scratch. They made decorations from scratch, I mean these people were so sweet and amazing. One of the nurses who works at FMC, bought everyone handmade mugs from Arnie, so that we would have something as this team, ’cause another nurse brought his espresso machine. So we all had this like… I don’t know, it became this sweet place of just people who were… I don’t know how to explain it. It was just one of the most amazing places I’ve ever worked. 10:53 ST: Well, I imagine it’s like you’re clearly working on something extremely difficult, and all you have is each other in this crazy world, and just having that… Yeah, that bonding that comes from doing something so difficult with people who are trying their best and who are looking out for each other. That’s huge. 11:13 ST: Yeah, I wish I had a clear idea of how long that cohort lasted. It was like a few months, all of April and May, a little bit into June, I think. And then things started to need to open up again. So FMC needed their nurses back, and even county needed, people still need rental assistance, they still need their meals delivered, there’s things that need to happen at county level. So FMC needed some of their nurses back, so they stopped being able to come, and then county started hiring some temp people and people to fill in the gap, so it’s even different now, and for a while, we had a lot of National Guard volunteers coming. So it’s just one of these jobs that I’ve never had before where it just has to change and flow and ebb and constantly change and you just need to be okay with that. And I think people are actually pretty good at being adaptable when they have to be. 12:06 ST: Well, it’s fascinating because your work was really centered around prevention work. 12:11 ST: Mm-hmm. Now it’s very much reaction work. 12:16 ST: Now you’re on the emergency response… 12:19 ST: Yes. 12:20 ST: Which is a whole specialty in and of itself, has this given you an insight that that’s a career path you would ever consider going into? 12:30 ST: I don’t think so. [chuckle] 12:33 ST: I mean, personally, my little amount of exposure to working on emergency preparedness, even on the preparedness side, I was like, “I don’t want to do this work.” 12:42 ST: Yeah. I’m not great with stress. [chuckle] 12:46 ST: I prefer things where like, I do a strategic planning. I like things where I’m way ahead of it. 12:50 ST: Yes. 12:51 ST: And I’m trying to plan ahead, and I do not do as well with the day-to-day… 12:55 ST: Although, having said that, I don’t want to do this work, I enjoy it right now. When I broke my toe and I thought I wasn’t gonna be at the site anymore at all, I really did not like that. It turns out I wanna be where… I wanna have my fingers on the pulse of what’s going on, it actually made me feel better to be involved, and not just because I needed hours or something, I want it… When I was faced with being 100% at home, I was like, “I actually don’t wanna be 100% at home.” I wanna be where the people are doing good work and I was doing good work at home, the teams who are working at home are doing really good work. That’s not the issue, but I… Yeah, it’s really hard work at Fort Tuthill. There are some days where there’s 40 people, and then there are some days where there’s 400 people, patients. 13:42 ST: Right, getting tested. 13:42 ST: So it’s like, supporting each other out there is, I think, one of the most valuable jobs I’ve done ever in my life. I know what they’re all doing. 13:53 ST: I would imagine that there’s an element of it of, I mean, you talked about having your finger on the pulse, but it’s also like there’s so much negativity in the national news and everything, and I feel like if you can see that on a micro level, people are really trying to do something to get a hold of this, to take care of each other, to make it better, that must be comforting in a way, even as scary as it is. 14:20 ST: In the beginning, my mother and my grandmother both took time to tell me they did not like this. They don’t want me to be out there. And I was like, “Okay, noted.” [chuckle] I was like, “You don’t understand. I signed up, when you work for public health, you kind of sign… You agree that if there’s ever an emergency in public health, you know you’re gonna be called upon.” And most of us were like, “Okay, whatever.” But I mean, it was totally natural and made complete sense. That when I came back from my “tiny wedding,” I went straight to Fort Tuthill. It was not really… I didn’t wonder, I was like, “I’m pretty sure when I get back to work, this is the work I’m gonna be doing.” And I never thought, “Oh I don’t wanna do it.” It was more like… It is scary, but it was scary in a way that made sense or was the natural… I wasn’t thinking in my head like, “How I’m I gonna go back to work and not have to do this.” I was thinking like, “This is what my job’s gonna be.” And I don’t know, it just… You see the nurses who are in the ICU and I’m like, “Would you tell them not to go to work?” And I’m sure their families are worried about them, and I am nowhere close to the risk of those heroes, I know saying heroes is a little trite, but honestly, the people doing the most important work is not me. I can do a little bit of work and help the cause, and it’s not as scary as the people doing the most important things. 15:48 ST: How has it been in terms of the protection of the people who are working at the testing sites? 15:55 ST: We are good. We have good PPE. We have enough PPE. 15:58 ST: Nice. 16:00 ST: We have a meeting every morning where we remind each other to go to the bathroom before you get in your stuff because we don’t wanna waste it. That kind of thing. But if you need to use two in one day, it’s okay. And we have a really good system in place where everybody’s really separated from the patients. I’m inside the whole time, I’m at a computer and I wear a mask and gloves because I handle the paperwork, but the patient never touches the paperwork, it’s done by someone else standing outside the car and they’re wearing masks, and the patient’s wearing a mask and I don’t know, at least at the site, I think I have never been afraid of contracting COVID-19 at work. I’m worried about it at the grocery store, I’m worried about it at Home Depot. I’m worried about it at the very few places I allow myself to go because I have to to survive, but I’m not worried about it at work. 16:51 ST: That was gonna be my next question. [chuckle] Knowing everything, you know what worries you in your day-to-day life with… 16:58 ST: I mean, I guess I do worry if I’m worried about getting it at work, I’m worried about getting it from someone I work with who also had to go to the grocery store that week. I’m not worried it from the patients who have it. There’s a 100% people who have it right outside the door, that’s not what scares me, what scares me is us hanging out eating lunch. [chuckle] And we’re all very… Everyone there is conscientious, very good. We sit six feet apart whenever we can, we try to go outside, but they don’t want us to go outside if it’s like thunder and lightning, which is now in the monsoon season which is new. We’ve been through this, it’s amazing, we’ve seen snow, we’ve seen sleet, we’ve seen horrible heat waves, and now we’re seeing monsoon season, it’s just very odd. We’ve been there so long. 17:39 ST: Each new challenge. 17:40 ST: Exactly. You get a handle on one thing, my grandfather has this saying, he says, “As soon as I learned all the answers, they changed all the questions.” 17:48 ST: Oh that’s a nice way to say it. 17:49 ST: And I have said that about it a thousand times, since this started. I’m like, “My grandpa knows his stuff.” [chuckle] 17:54 ST: Yeah. Anything else about the testing site before I switch gears? 18:00 ST: So we get lunch delivered every day, which is another miracle, which Emergency Management is buying us lunch every day, but sometimes they’ll bring like, “Oh, we just thought you needed warm rolls and butter. Here you go.” We’re like, “Oh, thanks. It’s so sweet.” 18:13 ST: We just knew you needed carbs. [chuckle] 18:15 ST: Yeah, it’s amazing, once in a while someone will bring coffee or donuts, it’s just like I know those things aren’t healthy, but it’s nice, it’s… Sometimes the people who make our lunches will write notes on every single individual lunch, like, “Keep smiling. We’re grateful. Thank you so much.” And I know it’s silly, but I love opening one of those styrofoam boxes that have a drawing or a note on it, I’m like, “Thanks.” So that’s all, they’re amazing people. I have become very protective of my psyche if I start reading a book and I feel upset, I stop reading the book. I never used to be that way. I used to be like, “I’m gonna finish this book.” Especially if it’s for a a book club, I really wanna finish it. But I did that recently, I forced myself to finish one and I knew within the first half hour of the audio book, I was like, “I don’t like this, it’s hurting me.” Until I finished it and afterwards I was like, “That was the wrong decision. I made the wrong choice.” So then later someone asked me to discuss… To watch and discuss a show about sexual abuse, and I was like, “Nope I can’t. Sorry, I refuse. I can’t.” 19:20 ST: Are you starting to do any of your regular work again? And if so, what does that look like? 19:31 ST: It’s hard because County Health is not open yet to service… Some services couldn’t stop because people really need them, but we can’t go into the public yet. So people who need things, they’re doing as much as they can over Internet and Zoom and stuff, and I don’t know about all the programs, some I’m sure are happening more than mine. I’ve been in contact with my schools that I would usually be setting up our classes with for the fall, but because they’re not opening up for in-person instruction until at least October, I may be able to Zoom teach somehow, but I don’t have that set up yet. And so mostly my work with TPP is finishing up reports and stuff for last year, and then figuring out if and when, what this year looks like. 20:24 ST: And as long as Fort Tuthill is operating and the cases are being handled by my department, I’m still doing that work. But it’s like a month-to-month conversation, sometimes a week-to-week conversation about what we’re gonna do. [chuckle] And I’m able to… There’s funding and there’s the ways for me to do things over Zoom, but I’ve never taught that way. I am doing still, once a week, a Zoom class in juvenile detention, and that’s sometimes fun and sometimes terrible. It’s really hard. Every teacher will tell you you need to read the room and the energy of the students and their reaction to you, and it’s really hard and sometimes impossible to do that over Zoom. And with sexual health, it’s even more important because sometimes you’re triggering things. 21:14 ST: Right. 21:16 ST: So it’s really hard. I’m like… And there is a real element of needing to be in person with that, and I don’t work… I’m just going day-by-day trying to figure out what things will look like. 21:26 ST: How are the juvenile detention… How are they doing? I know the issue of people in detention, in general, has been terrible. 21:38 ST: They are and always have been amazing at keeping their numbers really low. And I can’t speak for them, but my observation is that they’re really good at figuring out really the system, at least in Flagstaff, at least in my experience, is really good at looking at every option for the kid and has always been good like that. And now they do a really good job of… Their numbers are very low, and they do a really good job of quarantining and having sections and having masks and having low staff, and they’re not letting… There’s a lot of programs that come in and teach like mine, not just mine, and everyone’s on Zoom right now. 22:16 ST: You mentioned being careful about your media and what you’re reading, what you’re watching, but is there anything else in terms of just how you’ve learned to take care of yourself or take breaks to be able to deal with the inherent stress of all of this? 22:33 ST: In the beginning… So, you know, all the gyms closed. [chuckle] I was rock climbing like three times a week at the gym when this started, and then that shut down, so then we started going on these really long intense walks. And then I broke my toe. And for like a solid, I wanna say four weeks, I was really… I had like an e-scooter. I couldn’t walk, I had a boot, and there was just a lot… ‘Cause of the way it was broken, it was very broken. [chuckle] People hear a broken toe, and they’re like, “Oh, not a big deal,” and usually that’s true, but this was not like that. So that was a very low point emotionally, because to handle the stress of being at Fort Tuthill and dealing with COVID all of the time… My walks were keeping me sane, and then I started figuring out other things. Like, found these chair cardio workouts online for people with ankle and foot injuries and stuff. 23:32 ST: I really think, as much as I spent most of my life avoiding exercising, I think it’s one of the most important things for my mental health, and that’s so… I feel like it sounds so luxury ’cause I don’t want anyone listening to this to be like, “Oh man, another person telling me I should exercise.” Believe me when I understand you don’t wanna exercise, okay? [chuckle] And now I’m way more healed, and I’m bike riding a lot, and then I’ll get back to walking very soon. It really helped me in the beginning to like, I’d be bent over a computer all day at Fort Tuthill, and then just walk for any amount of time and length. It started to be about like, “I wanna get to the river… I wanna see what the river is doing today,” the Rio, just started being like, “I’m not going fast enough. I’m not moving hard enough. I’m not sore today. That means I didn’t walk good enough yesterday.” 24:15 ST: I didn’t sleep. [chuckle] 24:15 ST: Yeah, exactly. It started to be more like, “I wanna see if that flower by the ditch pool is blooming. [chuckle] I wanna see if there’s water in the Rio. I wanna go where the kids made a ramp jump in the middle of the woods and see if there’s new ramps today.” Those types of things started to be more important just ’cause I had to reframe it somehow and I had to make up ways to reframe it. So that’s what I started doing. 24:39 ST: Nice. 24:41 ST: There was a person doing their own landscaping, I wanted to see if they put in new plants. [chuckle] Just random stuff to motivate me to do this walk, because getting up from the computer, it was so important. 24:53 ST: I feel like I’m… We’re far enough in this now that I’m trying to remember all those lessons I learned at the beginning. [chuckle] 25:00 ST: Yes, yes. That’s early COVID, interesting. 25:03 ST: Right, right. Yeah, I was like… 25:04 ST: Oh, yeah, remember that? 25:05 ST: Oh, right, I was baking, and I liked it. 25:07 ST: Right, you remember baking? [chuckle] 25:08 ST: I should get back to that. 25:10 ST: Remember… I don’t know if you went through… I went through an online shopping phase. 25:12 ST: Oh, I did not. I went through puzzles, I went through baking. 25:15 ST: Yes, I went through puzzles too. I went through puzzles too. Definitely, I own way more puzzles than I ever owned in my life right now. And I’ve only done one ’cause I was in a puzzle phase, but I went through an online shopping phase where I would… 25:26 ST: I could have fallen into that easily though. I’m really trying… I went through more of the purging stuff, organizing and purging phase. Yes. Home remodel phase. [chuckle] 25:37 ST: I did a little cleaning things, I did that, but it was very early, it was very early. Actually, because my quarantine started the week before the 13th, I was very sick. I had a very bad cold. Everyone was talking about this. Did I have COVID very early? Like, la, la, la. It was a nasty respiratory thing, but that wasn’t weird for me. I got those every couple of years, or, sorry, a couple of times every year. I worked in schools. I would get sick. 26:05 ST: It was still winter, basically. 26:06 ST: And then as soon as it ended… What did you say? 26:09 ST: It was still winter, basically. 26:10 ST: It was still winter, a springy winter. 26:12 ST: It was early March. Allergy season. 26:13 ST: I remember, I called my friend at the county and I said, “I have a respiratory disease. Should I be getting tested?” And back then, they were like, “No, unless you traveled to China and unless you la, la, la.” I was like, “Oh, okay.” And then the next week, it was like, “The testing site is open.” [chuckle] And I still had a cough the first week of testing. A lot of us did. It was, like you said, it was still winter. I’m like… So, yeah, early times, it’s funny to remember. 26:39 ST: Is there anything I didn’t bring up that you had wanted to share? 26:43 ST: If I had some message for everyone or something, I guess I would say a lot of people in the beginning had a lot of kind thoughts and gifts for the first responders and a lot of people were giving gifts, and I think that’s kind of gotten a little bit forgotten. And I’m not trying to say, buy things for the nurses, but really, if you ever thought about doing that and you didn’t, or you did, and you still think that would be nice. It’s actually harder and worse now because we’re all sick of hearing about it, I think people are forgetting. 27:12 ST: Right. 27:13 ST: So I just wanna remind everyone that people on the front lines are still having a very long and hard time. And if you’re thinking of them or you have any ideas for something nice, you could do it. 27:27 ST: So as you’re going back to your early COVID coping mechanisms like puzzles… 27:32 ST: Yes. 27:33 ST: Maybe also go back to your early COVID giving mechanisms. 27:37 ST: Yes, yes. I got gifts from people I barely know. There was this woman whose name was Amanda who sent me a gift card to Rainbows, and then she said, “This is for when you can shop again, I just want you to have something to look forward to.” I’m like, “I don’t barely know you, you sweet, amazing person.” 27:54 ST: Nice. 27:54 ST: I’m like… The owner of Rainbows then wrote a really pretty note on a heart-shaped card, like a construction paper, and with the gift card. That was like one of the sweetest things I’ve ever had. I’m like, “I do not deserve this. You guys are so sweet.” 28:07 ST: Did it line up well with your online shopping phase? 28:10 ST: Yeah. Oh, man. 28:13 ST: Oh, that was a great conversation. Thank you again, Sydney, for coming in or coming to my backyard and talking to me for this episode. Thank you for listening to Do Good, Be Good. For show notes on all of the episodes, visit dogoodbegoodshow.com. I will have a new episode coming soon with Louise Fernandez. Louise was also a previous guest on the show. He is also a professor of criminal justice, and he has researched the Black Lives Matter movement and written about the Defund the Police movement. So I have a very interesting conversation with him coming your way. To subscribe to this podcast for free, so you get each episode as soon as it is released, just search for Do Good, Be Good in your podcast app of choice, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Music, Apple Podcasts, whatever you use. This podcast was produced, recorded and edited by me, Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom. Music in this episode is Bathed In Fine Dust by Andy G. Cohen, released under a Creative Commons Attribution International License and discovered in the Free Music Archive. Until next time, this is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom signing off. [music] The post #53 When a COVID Testing Site Is One of the Best Places to Work appeared first on Do Good, Be Good.
17 minutes | 10 months ago
#2 (Rebroadcast) And Then There Were Four
This is a rebroadcast from October 2017 in preparation for an update next week. Today’s guest is Gina Marie Byars, Station Manager of Sun Sounds of Arizona. I have known Gina for years through her community service work in Flagstaff. On the show she shares a personal story of taking in four young children and the effect it has had on her her life. Full transcript below: ANNOUNCER: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good.MS. BYARS: We filed for emergency custody of all four of the children so suddenly there was seven people in a two bedroom two bathroom apartment. And it worked… we basically stacked the children on the bed. We had a large bed and a top bunk bed and the kids figured out how they could share. They were still pretty small. So that was two months worth of … they were with us .. and it was this emergency custody piece and then there was this thing going on between the courts. At one point the court said no, you can’t actually do this, so the custody went back to their dad. And we’re like OK… and he said to us, you need to stay out of my life, I don’t want your help. And that was the hardest two months of my life to not have any interaction with the kids after having almost eight months of seeing them almost every day, weekends, more extended pieces. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM:Today I am speaking to Gina Byars, station manager at Sun Sounds of Arizona. I met Gina through her volunteer work and her service at nonprofits in the community. Gina has lots of stories about helping through her work, but today she is sharing a more personal form of helping. As you heard, Gina and her husband Scott became foster parents to four children. It started as an emergency custody situation, but soon after they ended up having the children live with them under a more formal arrangement with an indefinite timeline. We’ll pick up the story at that moment. MS. BYARS: So, they came to us officially in the DCS system in November of 2015. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: That’s like right before Thanksgiving. MS. BYARS: Mmhm, it was two days before. And even before then… we had decided… jump back a few weeks before then, well a couple of months, because in July our lease was coming due for the apartment and they said well, legally we can’t rent to more than 5 in a two bedroom apartment. In Flagstaff rent for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom house is ridiculous. We started looking at it and it made more economic sense to buy a house. We started looking for a house and found one within a month and closed within a month, so in two months we had a new place. We moved in October 1st. November 23rd, children are officially wards of the state and living with us. So our official title is non-licensed kinship placement foster parents. So in this very convoluted way of trying to help my brother and his kids, two years later we are now at almost October of 2017, the kids are still with us, they are still official wards of the state. You know, what’s the next step? And we don’t know. The biggest toll is on my relationship with Scott. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: As it often is when you have kids. Especially when you have four at once. MS. BYARS: Especially considering they are not his blood relation at all and it wasn’t something that was even on any type of horizon. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And how long had you been married before this happened? Cause I don’t think it was very long, right? MS. BYARS: It was not very long. It was.. let’s see we were married in 2014, so about a year.And then yea.. so it’s been an interesting journey, that is still ongoing. I’m saying, what is it going to look like? How do we as cognizant adults see that our relationship stays at least semi connected if not all the way intact. And I don’t know. It’s a piece that… saying that me personally, how do I refill myself when there are 6 entities in my household that need my energy and love and my input into their life. And that’s been a really big journey and I don’t know what I envisioned it being when I first took that first step out that door and said yes, we are doing this. I don’t know what I don’t what it was going to be. So it is just this space of not knowing either way. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: That is such a difficult quandary to be in being newly married, which is hard by itself, and what it takes to kind of build that relationship into something that is healthy and strong. And like you said being at that really critical age and that window of time, I can imagine saying that, Ok, we’re adults hopefully we can know that this isn’t the best way to get started, but we can try to put our needs on the back burner to take care of these precious young people who don’t have time to be put on the back burner and try to nurture them before we nurture the relationship. But that’s a hard choice to make. I don’t envy having to make that choice. MS. BYARS: And it’s been interesting in current conversations between Scott and me, realizing that these kids have pushed us to our edges, absolutely edges and possibly to breaking points and saying ok, I … nothing, bleh. And realizing the positive and negative of that. And being pushed to the absolute edge and breaking point has made us both step outside comfort zones and and look at and not sit in some complacent place. Would I do it again if I had all of this knowledge in my head of everything we’ve gone through back to that, June 15th? It was two days after the beer festival to. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: oh, great! MS. BYARS: My brother says, can you take the kids? He actually, there was a text from him or something the day before the beer festival. I said, Monday, not today, not this weekend. I kind of have something big going on. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And that was the last time you got to put your needs first. MS. BYARS: Mmhmm. I would do it again, I would. Part of it is just because I am stubborn. I tell the kids that everyday. I say, you’re really lucky your Auntie’s as stubborn as you are. Yea, that’s a whole ‘nother relationship thing with the kids. Because I do still believe that it’s imperative for that critical time of development. It needed to be done. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Do you feel you were acting on instinct to go? Especially in that original emergency custody situation? I guess I wonder… in another type of emergency, if it’s a disaster or something, people run in or they run away. And I wonder in a human crisis emergency if people respond in that sort of way in that they have certain instincts that they… MS. BYARS: That’s a fascinating question and I like it. And I don’t know. I have to think on that one, because it could be. Hmm. That’s a really good question. And just acting on that, seeing what needs to be done… OK, this should be done … then woah, I am way out here in the middle of this, how do I now save myself as well. MS. BYARS: Yea, the 8 year old, by that time, 7, 8 year old, she was already mom. And she cooked. I had a 7 year old who knew how to turn on a gas stove, cook eggs, cut onions, all this on her own. The 3rd one in line, who would have been 4, none of them had any fear of anything in the kitchen, because they needed to know how to do it so they could survive. So it was already at that level even though we had been involved at some level. So to think of it progressing to a point of them becoming just survivalists, was not ok. It was not something that I said, yea, they’ll survive, they’ll be ok. I always hope that children have the opportunity to be thriving members of society, not just productive, but thriving. And another piece of it, in my teaching I had seen … teaching middle school…at a school for at risk students. We were the last school before they were just done with school. They had been kicked out of multiple other schools, we were their last step and there was one boy in particular that I will always remember, and seeing the potential of our kids being in this one boy and seeing that these four kids could be exactly like this one. He was smart, he was funny, and he was completely closed down and locked out from being involved in a community level in anything. He was looking out for himself and that was it, because life had pushed him to a point of being a survivalist. He saw no value in connecting to another person unless they could meet his needs the way he wanted it. That was really tragic to see and to know that and to see that these kids, my own flesh and blood … or at least my own blood, maybe not my flesh… that they had the potential to be that young man. And I didn’t want that to happen. And to see an eleven year old boy, I guess he was 12 by the time he came to me. With these hard eyes of meeting me at his front edge, knowing that everything else that he held dear, I didn’t see at all, because he was not going to let me see it. I didn’t want that to happen to people who were directly connected to me at this point. If it was later and I came in later, I don’t know what. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Before we ended, I asked Gina what she thought it meant to be good.MS. BYARS: Being good, doesn’t have to be this monumental exercise, it comes down to being me. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: I like the contrast with that and what seems like a monumental exercise that you have taken on. MS. BYARS: (laughter): yea MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: It doesn’t have to be, but sometimes it is. Sometimes living that belief can turn into a monumental exercise. MS. BYARS: Yea, and it started in my head small. It was a family piece, and yet now here we are. MS. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Well, that’s a wra
29 minutes | 10 months ago
#45 Coming Home to Build Homes for Others
Eric Wolverton is back on the show and back at Habitat for Humanity. We discuss why he left a good job with benefits in the public sector to return to the busier, more stressful job as Director of the local Habitat for Humanity organization. We also discuss his choice to go straight into the workforce outside of high school instead of going into higher education and how that affects him now. [music] 00:06 Speaker 1: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. Your host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder, who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good. 00:26 Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom: Welcome back, this is your host Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, and I’m excited to bring you a continuation of Eric Wolverton’s story. On last week’s podcast episode. We re-broadcast episode number three in which I had talked to Eric Wolverton about what it had been like for him to work in the food center, as well as at Habitat for Humanity. And at that time he had made the jump to leave Habitat for Humanity and start working for Public Radio. Well, now he is back on the mike and, spoiler alert, he’s back at Habitat for Humanity. That’s part of why I wanted to bring him in, is because he did something that is somewhat unconventional. 01:09 ST: He went back to a role that he had had previously, and I was really curious to find out why and how it’s going. So that’s a big part of what we talked about today. Although you would enjoy this episode without having heard our previous conversation, I do recommend that if you haven’t heard that yet, go back and listen to that one first. It should be the last podcast episode in your feed, or you can check it out on our website at dogoodbegoodshow.com. Re-broadcast episode number three is what you look for. All right, let’s jump right into it. 01:45 ST: So you are back at Habitat? 01:48 Eric Wolverton: After being gone for three years, I’m thankfully back and have been back for the last 14 months. 01:55 ST: I saw you hit the ground running when you started. There was already exciting things happening. 02:01 EW: Well, we had to create exciting things because unfortunately, while I was gone in the three-year time span, we only built one home. Honestly, when I left Habitat, my goal and what I was hoping I positioned the organization in was to be able to build at least one home a year. So from the sidelines, I certainly was kind of bummed out. When I got back to Habitat and I had that great opportunity to really go back home, I also recognized that not only was I the only one dissatisfied but the community forgot who Habitat was. That’s when I challenged our board and I said, “Well, we’re gonna build two homes,” and they said, “We only have money for one.” And then I tried to compromise and I said, “Well, then let’s build one-and-a-half homes. And if we can build the second one out with some money, then let’s do it.” That was a game plan that the board could get behind. Thankfully, and I’m very grateful that the community did step up, they saw our impact, they saw what we were doing on a large scale. When we were done with the houses, our coffers were just as good as when we started. For us to be able to do that out of the gates was fence housing. 03:28 ST: Yeah, I mean, as a total sideline watcher, [chuckle] I felt the excitement that you were building around that. I mean, it was great. 03:38 EW: Well, for me, it just came down to the passion. After being removed for three years, I never really got to touch the mission of where I was working. Even though I was working in Public Radio, well, I was only doing one facet of what I’m used to doing as an executive director. I was going out and I was asking businesses to sponsor Public Radio. And that’s great and I’m behind Public Radio. I listen to it every morning still but the problem though is is that for all good reasons, I’m not gonna write a new script because I don’t have that background. I found myself getting very, very bored there, and I would go home and be, quite frankly, quite depressed. My wife would say to me, she’s like, “You know, there’s really only one thing that satisfies you, and that’s when you’re touching something that’s gonna end up helping somebody else.” Again, gratefully, when the opportunity presented itself, I could go back to my family over at Habitat. 04:47 ST: Was there anything that, in retrospect, do you feel like you were taking for granted at Habitat? 04:51 EW: Oh, absolutely, I was taking for granted that we were doing so well. Quite frankly, I don’t feel like I work hard at my job. I just work diligently at my job. We had great success my first three years with Habitat before I left to go to Public Radio so phenomenally well, in fact, that I really honestly thought, okay, even though, when I found Habitat, they were struggling, but when I left it after three years, they are in a great position, and I can emotionally walk away, because I was being sought after by Public Radio with this idea of that I could earn a job that was easy. And unfortunately then I thought that sounded really good. But when I got there and I recognized that I wanted a little break from being a leader, the guy that the buck stops here, I did want an unemotional break from that, but I didn’t recognize on how important it was for my psyche to be in that role, on a day-to-day basis. And so then going to a place that I couldn’t find myself emotionally fulfilled by the job, then it was meaningless. 06:14 EW: Public Radio gave me great opportunities to expand my knowledge of the community and a lot of other things including being able to spend more quality time with my daughter in her single digit years, which are very important. But nonetheless, I wasn’t reaping any benefit. Just the things around me were becoming easier, because it’s easier, I learned a really hard lesson, it’s not fulfilling. And so, that grass was so green when they first said to me, “Come on over here,” and, “The studio is warm, all the time.” It sounded great, but boy, I’ll tell you what, that grass was very, very, very not as green as a thought. [chuckle] 07:00 EW: And then, in hindsight, I recognized how perfect I was at Habitat. It’s like a break-up, that’s what I had. I broke up a relationship. I’m the one that started it, [chuckle] because Habitat was being real good to me. But, for some reason, I felt like I fulfilled everything that I needed to, and that I could move on and move up. I found out almost immediately after the break-up that I made a terrible, terrible choice. [chuckle] Granted, I had to learn a really good lesson at KNAU, and there’s no regrets. I’ve always told myself that a regret is just a leash, and it holds us back from being able to grow and be better. I look at those three years as being great, because I wasn’t thrilled, but I persevered. I wasn’t really maybe super pumped up about the job, but I did it well, and I made sure that the numbers were always the best that they’ve ever been. 08:07 ST: I asked Eric about the perspective he has gotten from working in different non-profits in different fields. 08:15 EW: And you know, it is really interesting to be able to go from food insecurity over to housing. The correlation is very direct because food insecurity is always going to be the first cut from any budget. It’s the only thing that we have, in terms of our needs, on a financial scope, every month, that we can manage. So, we know that our gas is gonna be $50, and we know our electric is gonna be $50, and our water is gonna be this much. All those are set in stone, and so if we’re hurting financially, there’s only one budget line item that you can mess with and that’s food. And then, that’s how people end up becoming food insecure, because they take that unfortunate but necessary step that sets them back, and then it’s hard to get back on to the regular path again. And once somebody’s there, then obviously, it’s very easy for folks to say, “Well, I’ve cut all the food I can cut. Now I’m gonna start missing a payment on this utility, or missing a mortgage payment, or what have you.” And so it can turn into a downward spiral. 09:29 EW: I am just thrilled at what I get to do with Habitat is that I get to work with the workforce of Flagstaff, and ensure that they have an opportunity to stay in Flagstaff. And living here for 22 years everyday, and I’ve owned my home for 10 years now, but still, everyday is a battle to keep that home. We look at job opportunities as being sexy, if they have health benefits, if they have a pension attached to it. And the reason why we do that is because we need a sense of security, right? But I think what ends up happening, though is by… And this gets a little political, but by allowing our employer to create that sense of security, it also then disadvantages our ability to keep the passion, sustain the passion, find those things that really make us wanna work hard. 10:39 EW: And so I’ve always made the argument that it’s not an employer’s role to provide benefits, or provide a pension, because now you’re just stuck. But all of those great people, and they are great people, that may feel stuck. If we had universal healthcare, if we had a very good social security safety net, which doesn’t exist, then those people would be able to challenge themselves and take their entrepreneurial sp
17 minutes | 10 months ago
#3 (Rebroadcast) If your job was easy I would find a volunteer to do it
In preparation for a new episode with Eric Wolverton, we are rebroadcasting Episode 3, from October 2017 with a couple of updates. In this episode I speak with Eric Wolverton. I met Eric when he worked at the local food bank and then we partnered on projects when he was the Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity here in Flagstaff, AZ. Eric shares his insights and lessons from those jobs as well as from his early childhood growing up on a family farm. Full Transcript of the episode: ANNOUNCER: This is Do Good, Be Good, the show about helpful people and the challenges they face in trying to do good. You host is Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, a career do-gooder who also loves craft beer and a good hard tackle in rugby. Sharon speaks to everyday people about why they do good and what it means to be good.TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: This season was brought to you by VolunteerPro. VolunteerPro provides online volunteer management training, coaching and community to leaders and volunteers at all levels. Learn more at VolPro.net. And stay tuned for later in the show when I’ll tell you about a special discount for our listeners. Speaking of our listeners, Oh my gosh we have listeners. Thank you so much to everyone who has subscribed to this podcast. It really means a lot to me. If you haven’t yet, subscribe using ITunes or Stitcher. If you have feedback for me, please leave us a review or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. WOLVERTON: I grew up in rural New Jersey on a 150 acre farm. We had more of a tight-knit community. To be quite frank, volunteerism wasn’t something that I heard about growing up. We had a lot of families that actually supported our family farm and they would help us harvest and grow our produce and then in return they would reap the benefits from getting free produce for their families; usually it was working poor families that were looking for that option to take advantage of. I remember frequently watching my father weld many apparatuses together for neighbors that didn’t have the tools and the expertise to do it, and not a single time did he ever charge anyone. It was just a matter of it was a neighbor helping a neighbor. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Today I’m speaking to Eric Wolverton. I first met Eric when he was working at the local food bank and then I continued to partner with him when he moved over to be the Executive Director at Flagstaff’s Habitat for Humanity. I asked Eric about his experience working at Habitat. WOLVERTON: Well Habitat comes in, they build a house and then people can apply for it. And it’s really meant for the working poor which used to be once upon a time the middle class. But there are a lot of people with pride and they’re scared to participate in those programs. And I consider them to be a volunteer in the program because, number one, they have to participate in building a home and, more importantly, they have to participate by paying off the home. So community dollars got involved into creating the home, but now they’re paying it back to Habitat through a mortgage payment. And a lot of people don’t feel that they’re deserving, that they fit the criteria, that it should go to somebody else more in need. Yet that’s really nice that they think that way and that they feel that way, but at the same time just because they’re dealing with the same type of struggles as a lot of people in Flagstaff are, there are still lots of opportunity for them to give back. You know, with Habitat the way their model works is for every home they build with community dollars, they’re receiving mortgages on all these homes. And if you multiply Habitat homes, then the mortgage payments themselves, the original community dollars end up going back into the Habitat coffers to build more homes. It’s a great domino effect. So it’s a reason why for 40 years plus Habitat has grown exponentially, because it’s sustainable. But it takes volunteers with checks that want to better themselves to make it happen. And so if people feel that they’re not warranted to have that opportunity, then it breaks down the whole program. So in that sense, it’s kind of a unique way, a lot of people don’t — again, people don’t think a checkbook is a way of volunteering, it really is. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: After Eric left, I started thinking about his statement that the checkbook is a way of volunteering. Lately I’ve been listening to Gabby Dunn’s podcast “Bad With Money.” She interviews people who are often left behind or marginalized by the financial system. On a recent episode, her guest spoke about not paying back student loan debt. And her guest explained that she didn’t really feel guilty about taking money from the federal government without a plan to pay it back. When she said that, it bothered me. I realized that I do believe that paying back federally backed student loans is a part of being a good citizen. As Eric explained in this example, the Habitat model depended on people accepting help from others in the form of community dollars and volunteer labor to build a house and that’s nice and good, but the most critical part of the model was actually when the new homeowners pay back their mortgage and then that money that they pay is able to be leveraged to help other people. For certain financial instruments like federally backed student loans, federal taxes, even credit unions, there’s an ability to help others by leveraging money. The ability to leverage money depends on the assumption that people, at least most people, will make every effort to pay the money back or to fulfill their financial responsibilities. When I think about doing good, I usually think about how people help others directly, though their actions, but this got me thinking about ways that are decisions about money and personal responsibility factored into building a strong community. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. After this short break, we’ll hear more from Eric. When I first started working as a volunteer coordinator, I had no experience, no training, I was learning on the job and it was painful. I definitely could have used VolunteerPro. Their site has volunteer management training and coaching. So if you were “voluntold” into volunteer management, this site is for you. Right now they’re offering our listeners $100 off an annual membership. Go to VolPro.net and use the promo code PROPOWER. That’s VolPro.net, promo code PROPOWER. Now back to our show. WOLVERTON: Volunteerism should be fun. I’ve always told my paid staff whenever a bad day would occur at work — and we’ve all had them — and I would say you know what, I’m really sorry you’re having a having a bad day at work, that’s the reason why you’re on the payroll, and if your job was easy I would find a volunteer to do it. But there are certain jobs that aren’t fun, that are monotonous, that are just you don’t want to go in every day and so you have to have the influence of pay to do it. So volunteerism really should be focused on having fun, being part of a network. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: And so I’ve been part of this thought process myself about — because I definitely went through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, how do you support your volunteers by making them feel, you know, taken care of so that then they want to give because they feel like their needs are being met. But then I started questioning it because a lot of the people I’ve seen who are really dedicated volunteers, they are asked to sacrifice to be a volunteer. So for instance I now got involved with the theater and oh my goodness, you are sacrificing time and sleep and sometimes you’re bleeding onstage and we’ve had so many people who just push themselves to the limit to be a volunteer with the theater and yet those bonds that they form and the connection that they feel to the theater seems to get stronger the more it’s difficult and the more is asked of them. WOLVERTON: Absolutely. Well I think that’s what brings everybody together, you know. If it’s the trials or tribulations of running a family farm, you’re going to ask your neighbors for some help, you know. And you’re going to grow a relationship off that and a lot of respect for those other people that are going to support you. Absolutely. I think that the harder the task is — again within means — then you can definitely grow great culture. That also has a boundary in itself because many organizations will find their shining star volunteers and then take advantage of them. And then they will exhaust them to the point where they can’t or don’t want to volunteer any more, because they’re being treated more like an employee than a volunteer. And so there is a very fine line, taking your gold star volunteers, using them to the best of their potential so that way they can grow themselves and feel like they’re accomplishing things, but not exhausting them to the point where they end up leaving you. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Do you think that that — because you said by treating them like an employee, but do you think it has more to do with how you value them? Like you’re valuing the employee partly by paying them so that’s one way that you show that. So if you have someone that’s working as many hours or has as much responsibility as a paid staff member and they are unpaid, that maybe there’s some other commensurate value that you have to give that person to show them what they’re worth to your organization. WOLVERTON: Absolutely. TEWKSBURY-BLOOM: Or else they’ll fee
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