September 10, 2009

Play on Words, But True ©

by R. S. Gaylord June 5, 2009

It is hard to stay home on the range

When the deer and the antelope’s gone.

Now days you’ll hear all discouraging words

And my eyes are cloudy all day.

I’m leaving the range for cities so evil

Willie Nelson found pitfalls real.

My life on the range faces massive change

It’s no longer there to enjoy.

Urban expansion it’s called, these terrible days

Pushing ranchers away by choice.

Houses replacing animals and sage;

Developers everywhere with voice.

I have sold out at last, life is no “blast”

To the cities I shall go

A life so dull display screens will lull

And the sky is covered all day.

You can go all over without seeing clover

And never leave buildings at all

Life’s not the same, slightly insane

Where did peace and beauty go?

posted as a comment to a June 2009 blog post (June 9, 2009 10:15 AM)

September 9, 2009

Youth Cooperatives to City Sponsored Business Summits

The Business Mind: age 6 to 60.

by Jean Hoiland

Today I attended a business summit sponsored by the city of Enumclaw, Chamber of Commerce and Green River Small Business Center. I didn't really have any expectations, it's that yoga thing of non attachment I guess. I was neither late nor overly early, I got there on time. The first thing I noticed and my words verbatim to my breakout group "what a piss pour turn out by our business owners". I was told 45 people registered but I'm not sure there were even 20 business owners who showed up. I registered but was not even on the list. I didn't want to give up 6 hours of my day figuring out how to draw people to our downtown businesses. I'm sure the other dozen or more people felt the same, but we made the time nonetheless because we care about our community as much as we care about creating sustainable businesses.

The focus of the summit was Economic Development. A pretty important issue to tackle as businesses close, buildings sit vacant and rents increase all around us. Our focus groups came up with some pretty good strategies and action items, but there was nothing earth shattering or really out of the box discussions. As the facilitator said all of these issue were discussed in a similar public hearing ten years ago.

I didn't leave all fired up and confident of the situation improving too much from what we did....quite frankly my thoughts quickly shifted to parent mode and teacher. My afternoon schedule consisted of helping my young entrepreneur and his friend sell their produce and eggs in our neighborhood. I am sorry I did not get another picture to go with this. If you read my last blog you'll know that my son invited his best friend Hunter to bring his eggs to sell on my sons produce route.

Without even knowing it, they formed a 'Cooperative'. We discussed what a 'coop' was as we walked. They even took turns pulling the cart and eventually worked as a team to pull the cart together. First stop a success, each sold something. Then my son refused to stop at the house just across the street. A friend of mine and no doubt he knew I would get talking. When I asked his friend what he thought he said, "This is my first time so I'll do what Brennan wants". So I explained they were passing up a good business opportunity. I didn't think they really understood.

As we walked the discussion turned to creating a website. My son brought this up after hearing me mention it the day before. A few days earlier we left a card in someones door and they called back the next day. The boys liked the idea of distributing flyer's. Next my son was volunteering his 'Poppy' (grandpa) to build them a store to sell out of. My son recently toured the 'Food Coop' in Port Townsend. Isn't it wonderful how the young mind thinks big without a concern for the details.

We came upon a family visiting and playing outside. There was no garden so I said to the boys "why don't you stop and ask if they want to buy anything". They said no they didn't want to. I explained once again they were passing up a good business opportunity. They looked at each other and mutually agreed to turn around and go back. They made a new customer and all it took was a few minutes to introduce themselves and get to know the neighbor. I try my hardest to let them to talk and tell their stories, helping when asked. They let me hold the money which I find kind of surprising.

Once the transaction was complete they were running to the next stop. Really we were running pulling the cart. Not everyone wanted to buy something and it didn't even phase them, they were just off to the next house or passerby on the street. They didn't care why someone didn't want to buy, there was never a thought like "maybe I don't have the right vegetables or was I pleasant enough". They were simply enjoying their time and completing a task so they could get on to something else.

We were out for one hour, met a few new people, the boys learned about 'coops' and I came away from the day with a new perspective. The realization that we as citizens, city administrators, parents, teachers, business owners and what have you, neglect to consider the ideas and input of the children in town. They are so enthusiastic and creative with their own ideas and opinions. They may not be able to specifically say what their ideas and opinions are, but as adults we should be able to observe and make some discoveries that could help our communities Economic Development.

Next blog: My Son's Father thinks I'm raising a peasant boy. (stay tuned)

September 8, 2009

Learn to Earn, Earn to Learn

A College Savings Journey
by Jean Hoiland

My son Brennan (6 years old) and I were busy this summer manifesting college credits, and following through with the plans described in the Roomanski Tale of veggies door to door. Three months from the original posting of our garden story the veggies are growing out our ears. We started with bags of spinach and progressed to a cart filled with kale, carrots, rhubarb, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, beets, eggplant, green beans, sweet peas, tomatoes, parsley and basil.

Our neighbors have been fabulous and eager to support our "learn to earn, earn to learn" endeavor. My fledgling entrepreneur hasn't always been very cooperative but in the last few weeks has certainly come a long way. We have both learned valuable lessons down the path to ensuring a college education.

Lessons I learned from my son.

  1. "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit". I'm not sure where he heard the saying but it has stuck with him and he uses it....on me of course. Translation - don't expect too much. He is 6 and very normal for his age. The attention spam can be fleeting and delivery may be weekly or who knows we might hit the pavement twice in one week and not at all the next. Fortunately as a parent my yoga skills come in handy and I am pretty adept at going with the flow.

  2. "Whatever you think it is worth". He learned very quickly that some of the neighbors think home grown fresh produce is worth more than other's do. He tends to stop first at the neighbors who tip for the delivery. He loves going to see 'Don and Geneva'. They know he likes getting the quarters with states on them and make sure to have some handy for tipping.

  3. "That's it, no more houses". The melt down after only one house. That means I got carried away in the garden picking and weeding forgot about the time....and neglected to make sure my son had a snack before heading across the street. I've done this to the poor boy on more than one occasion.

  4. "It will be way more fun if Hunter comes with me". Brennan's best friend. He has eggs. Won't our neighbors be happy when they hear the news. Let's hope his mom (one of my best friends) is willing to get more chickens. I have to agree, it is way more fun sharing with friends.

  5. "Let's cut stuff up for taste testing". His 'aha' moment last week as he flew back into the corn after the carrots finally released from the dirt. He went running into the house to wash and cut a few carrots for his customers to try before buying. This week we are making a 'Kale, beet salad'. Never underestimate the intelligence of children.

We have many more weeks of fresh produce and time visiting with our neighbors. I have to admit I am way more into this than my son. I love digging in the dirt, and socializing with the neighbors. I'd like to put a commercial kitchen in our garage and host neighborhood meals, cooking classes and block parties. Sshhh, don't tell my mom and dad they would have a fit.

I hope my son appreciates the things we grow. I think he does, I hope he does, and I know, he is only 6, "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit". I'm off to practice some yoga now and release my expectations... then I am launching an email to my nephew to make sure he is coming to help me tear down the old green houses and make room for some new.

June 16, 2009

Roomanski Gardens: A vision in the making.

The seeds were planted as my sister and I took over our father's gardens for a few weekends late last fall. Our goal, prepare the gardens for winter. I say gardens because there are two rather large areas that total anywhere from 4-5,000 square feet. We have two pear trees, two plum trees, three or four apple trees, two varieties of raspberries and blueberries.

We began digging things up that hadn't been moved in years, we pulled out post that previously held up beans and we emptied and moved the compost piles. Then the monster rototiller came out. Our wonderful neighbor came over, pushed us out of the way, and took over the battle of maneuvering "the beast" around the gardens 3 or 4 times. He has been helping my dad for years and made a comment how much easier "the beast" handled without the obstacle course.

Cover crop planted my sister and I began discussing the idea of planting extra and making it available to our neighbors. We were simply brainstorming and dreaming about gardens that produced enough food for several households. Little did we know our parents were going to announce our hair brained idea to the neighbors the next day at a luncheon. The response was immediate and favorable. Many of them are retired and loved the idea of having my son bring them fresh vegetables from the garden.

Holy cow, it was just an idea we were germinating. There was no business plan for crying out loud. I am already committed to my yoga studio and the Mindful Intent newsletter I couldn't possibly start another business. So we just decided to see how much grew and when there was enough we would send my son Brennan door to door. I began having conversations about selling veggies to the neighbors as a way to make some money for college. Yes I know he is only 6 (5 at the time) but I just don't think it's ever too early to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. Was he hearing what I was saying, or was he simply thinking about STAR WARS and light sabers? Turns out, it was both.

Last Saturday it happened. I was at the sink doing dishes and my son came in and said "Mom I think it's time to pick the spinach. I want to sell some." I finished up and we went out to the garden, bags and scissors in hand. He held the bags while I cut and loaded. We filled three bags and decided that was enough. Brennan was ready to go door to door. I asked him how much he planned on selling them for, his response "$8". He wanted to buy...guess what...a new light saber. I told him $8 might be too much. He wondered if maybe $3 per bag was enough. I simply looked at him and he decided he would leave it up to the neighbors to decide. I thought that was a good strategy.

I suggested some role playing like his drama class in school. I instructed him to pretend I was a neighbor and to knock on my door. When I answered the door he asked me "would you like some spinach?". I said yes took a bag and closed the pretend door. He tried again, said the same thing and I took two bags and closed the door. At this point he is frustrated but laughing and said he would like to try again. I opened the pretend door and he said "Would you like to buy some spinach?". I asked him how much and he responded "whatever you think it is worth". He made his first dollar as an entrepreneur that day knocking on 8 doors. One person said no and the next happily bought a bag and the rest were gone for the day. He was thrilled with his new found wealth. He skipped on over to the neighbors and gave his buddy Allen (our neighbor that helps turn our soil, he is a gem) and then said the last bag was for his Nani and our dinner.

With a total of $6 burning a hole in his wallet, Brennan was dying to spend some. He attached his wallet to his belt (Luke Skywalker style) and we headed to Blockbusters for movies. He got cold feet once at the counter and said "I changed my mind you can buy." No way, I wasn't going to let him go back on his word of renting his own movie. Once outside he decided he wanted candy and would I get him some. I said "No, I'm not going to buy toxic waste. If you want it, you buy it." He took forever picking something out, and yes it was blue. It said real fruit juice...but toxic, tooth rotting nonetheless.

Brennan was sporting a funny look, then I noticed the concern. He wanted to know how much of his precious wealth was remaining. When I explained that he spent almost half of his money he said "I think I'm going to save at least half of everything I earn this summer." Music to my ears and a lesson learned about choices.

I've been coaxing Brennan into harvesting some more veggies. He doesn't seem to hear and then the other night he watered all on his own with me giving instruction and help guiding the hose. We were out until 9pm. I asked him how much he thought he should be paid for being such a good helper. He said he wanted one of those shiny dollar coins and we agreed.

This morning we got a text message order for some rhubarb. I picked it before leaving the house with instructions for Brennan to weigh and price. He made another $5. There is more spinach and now Swiss chard ready to be picked and delivered.

Don't be surprised if next year you see a sign at the corner of Roosevelt and Semanski announcing "ROOMANSKI GARDENS - heirloom tomatoes, starts, and fresh produce". I have someone coming by today to give an estimate on the cost to remove a 1,500+/- sq ft concrete slab. I am making plans to add more blueberries, raspberries and a new green house for my dad.

We have an old shed that would make an excellent chicken coop. It's just an idea that is germinating it might take root it might not. I like to have plans and to think about the future. I also know it's important to realize the plan can change at any moment. I don't get attached or overly worried. If it's meant to be then it will happen. I'll just coax it along.

June 8, 2009

A Vision for Enumclaw

I try to stay informed, up to date and educated about what's going on in my home town. Like many of you I don't make it to many city council meetings and only occasionally find time to watch the meeting via Internet. Let's face it life is hectic, busy and sometimes overwhelming. After all we have council members and committees to take care of all that as well as a mayor and city staff. At least that is what I would assume most of us think.

Well that's just not enough. It's up to us to know what's going on whether we like the people involved in city politics or not. I hear from so many people that they just don't want to get involved "it's the same old small town politics", "good old boys network" etc.... Enough is enough.

We do need to be involved, how else is the city administrators, council and committees going to know about our vision for growth. We don't have to agree with them and differing opinions can be down right irritating. Hey I'm in business cause I want to do things my way. I'd love nothing better than to write a letter or two and see my will be done. Unfortunately it's not that easy.

There needs to be a certain willingness to roll up the sleeves and get down to the unpleasant work of being uncomfortable going against the tide or current policies. Small towns are destroyed by lack of public involvement. Let's not allow that to happen to ours.

Perhaps my vision of a sustainable Enumclaw with CSA's, raw milk, agricultural education classes, animal husbandry and hitching post for horses right within our city limits is UTOPIAN and PolyAnna-ish. I don't care. That's the vision I have and in speaking with others the response seems to be favorable. Once the picture is painted it's fun to see the light go on in people's brains and hear comments such as "that's not a bad idea".

So why not go a step further and show up at some of the council meetings or maybe just right a note or two to the city council. The paper is always more than happy to publish letters and I'd love to help get word out about those bent on sustainability in our area.

Branding a community and drawing in tourism will only happen if we are able to create something different and at the same time realistic for our time and economy. Once that is accomplished, the marketing strategy is easy. We are a beautiful small town boasting close proximity to state and national recreational parks we also happen to have many of the few remaining dairy farms in King County. One of them located within our city limits.

March 19, 2009

Who's watching over our natural resources?

Today I went to the Enumclaw library to vote for King Conservation Districtor supervisor. Lisa Parsons from asked me to get the information to as many people as I could. KCD is a very important organization working with virtually all municipalities within King County with the exception of a few. Enumclaw is one of those exceptions, along with Federal Way, Skykomish, Milton and Pacific.

As a resident of city of Enumclaw I was not able to vote on something I care deeply about. Which got me wondering...."who made that decision for me?". I was never asked if I minded my voting right being taken away. Did the Enumclaw city Council really vote not to participate? Did they even realize what the KCD election was all about?

How did all of this go un-noticed in a community that succeeded in keeping Nestle Water North America out of our water supply.

I encourage you to watch the KCD video and then ask the City of Enumclaw to get involved and step up to the task of being better stewards of our natural resources. The issues the KCD board of supervisors assist with are important for the future managment of our rivers, streams and open spaces.