More than 100 people gathered last weekend to raise money and awareness for the homeless and impoverished in Denver by sleeping in cardboard boxes in a parking lot in Northeast Denver. As part of the event, we also walked around the neighborhood in small groups after dark to engage with people who frequent the streets at night, including people in Triangle Park (a known gathering spot for the homeless).
The event was a success in several ways – we learned valuable lessons and raised almost $23,000 for Encompass, an organization founded to uplift orphans, single moms, and widows in downtown Denver who are in need, and A Strong Tower Ministry, a Christian organization that helps men and women reenter society after prison. Here are some of my takeaways from the night:
- I have more in common with some people who are homeless than I have differences. During our neighborhood walk, I spoke with a woman in her 30’s who is a registered nurse and who was leading a “normal” life until two years ago when she became addicted. In addition, a few of my fellow box dwellers were former convicts and homeless individuals who had been helped by the organizations we were raising money for. It is sobering to think how a few bad choices can drastically alter the course of your life.
- I really like my privacy and the comforts of my home, which I take for granted. The hardest part of the night wasn’t sleeping on the ground (although my neck was pretty stiff the next morning), it was the lack of privacy and freedom. All night from my box, I could hear the noises of the night – the sounds of traffic, emergency vehicles, other box dwellers and people walking by on the street. These noises made it hard for me to fall (and stay) asleep and made me jumpy. And, without the comforts of my own home, I restricted my activities – I limited my water intake so I wouldn’t have to get up in the dark to find the porta-potty, and without lights or window shades, we had to go to sleep and wake up with the sun.
- It feels very vulnerable to be out on the street without a safe place to run home to. Walking around at night, even in a small group, was scary at times. We were sleeping in a fenced-in parking lot, with several men serving as security guards throughout the night, but without walls, doors and locks it still felt vulnerable. During the night a few “true” people of the night tried to jump the fence and stir up trouble, which made me glad that my homeless adventure was ending in the morning.
Overall, the event gave me renewed empathy for people who are homeless and renewed gratitude for the many blessings and resources I have been given. Below is a shot of me from this interesting night.
WhiteWave Foods has been a longtime supporter of helping people understand what’s in their food and where it comes from. We are committed to sustainable agriculture, continued learning and reducing our impact on the environment, and are therefore strong supporters of our local Boulder partner, Growing Gardens, and its mission to enrich the lives of our community through sustainable urban agriculture.
Growing Gardens raises awareness and provides opportunities for people to participate in urban agricultural programs. They unite the Boulder County community through urban agricultural projects such as: The Cultiva Youth Project, The Children’s Peace Garden, Horticultural Therapy, Fresh Food Families & Fitness, and The Community Gardens.
Protecting open space, promoting organic growing practices, and providing new learning experiences for kids and adults is core to the City of Boulder. And, it’s what Growing Gardens has contributed to since it was founded. WhiteWave Foods supports the impressive efforts of Growing Gardens, and we support Boulder City Council in placing a conservation easement on the Long’s Gardens property that is in our backyard. The conservation easement would protect the last 25 acres of working community farmland in the Boulder city limits.
Help us protect this land so it can continue to serve as a community-based resource for agricultural education. To make your opinion heard in this matter, you may contact the Boulder City Council before Tuesday, June 18 at email@example.com. If you are local to Boulder, you are invited to make your voice heard by attending the June 18th City Council meeting at the Municipal Building located at 1777 Broadway in Boulder CO.
LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, a market segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living, and social justice. LOHAS describes an estimated $290 billion U.S. marketplace and consumers attracted to this market represent a sizable group; approximately 13-19% percent of the adults in the U.S. are currently considered LOHAS consumers.
The 2013 LOHAS Conference is upon us and runs June 18-20 in Boulder, Colo., our backyard. The LOHAS Business Conference provides a cross section of executives like no other, and is known for fantastic networking with decision makers who are interested in LOHAS business.
This year’s group of 2013 LOHAS speakers includes more than 40 exciting people from LOHAS-minded organizations big and small nationwide. There are three experts from WhiteWave Foods speaking this year including:
- Deanna Bratter, Sr. Manager, Corporate Sustainability, who will be speaking on a panel about Innovative Water Sustainability Tools
- Craig Shiesley, Senior VP Plant Based Beverages for Silk, who will be speaking on a panel called “Staying Ahead of the Curve”
- Mike Ferry, President of Horizon, who will be speaking about the intricacies of Building a Long Lasting LOHAS Brand.
All details about the 2013 LOHAS program can be found here: http://www.lohas.com/2013-program. You won’t want to miss this event!
Initiatives to require labeling food made with genetically-modified ingredients are continuing to gain momentum at the Federal and state levels. New ballot initiatives in Washington State, Connecticut, Vermont and elsewhere continue to generate widespread attention.
We realize some consumers expressed concern about our former parent company’s position on these issues.
To be clear, we didn’t donate to the opposition of the I-522 or Prop 37 initiatives. At WhiteWave, we believe people have the right to know what is in their food and we agree with the underlying principles of state initiatives.
We support a national standard for labeling because we believe consumers everywhere, in all 50 states, have the same right to know what’s in their food. A national standard for GMO labeling would provide consistency for consumers and avoid the potential for 50 different standards in 50 different states.
We remain committed to the non-GMO movement. Consumers can feel good knowing Silk’s entire line of plant-based beverages has been verified by, or is enrolled in, the Non-GMO Project. All of Horizon’s products carry the USDA Organic Seal, and have been certified organic for more than 20 years. Consumers know and trust that the certified organic label means their food is produced without the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones, and GMOs.
Rest assured WhiteWave believes in transparency, and will not support initiatives that oppose GMO labeling.
Put together a team of at least three people (co-workers, friends, family) and sign up for the Colorado Corporate Challenge 8K Race.
What: The Colorado Corporate Challenge is an 8K road race followed by fun activities. This race is about promoting healthy lifestyles, team-building, community engagement, and most of all…FUN! The 8K road course will run through the mostly flat, traffic controlled roads of the Colorado Tech Center. Participants will enjoy aid stations on the course as well as a post-race celebration with food, beer, contests and an awards ceremony.
When: Thursday, June 20. Expo opens at 3:00 pm and the race starts at 6:00 pm.
Where: Colorado Tech Center in Louisville at Community Food Share’s New Location – 650 S. Taylor Avenue.
Why: Food, fun and run. Also, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Community Food Share. Every dollar donated to CFS translates into four meals for those in need in Boulder and Broomfield Counties.
Who: Runners and walkers are welcome. The Colorado Corporate Challenge is a team event, and it is necessary to be part of a team with a minimum of three people. Boulder and Broomfield County companies with teams of employees can compete for the coveted “2013 Corporate Challenge Cup”.
We’ll have some WhiteWave teams running, so come join us! Click here to learn more and register.
Check out this great article featuring Horizon Organic producer, Marilyn Gardner, from Pownal, Vermont and learn how she has managed the challenges of combining motherhood and farming.
WhiteWave has been a supporter of CORE for over a decade. CORE, or Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy, is a non-profit with a mission to help Colorado organizations implement sustainability into their business. A couple of weeks ago CORE hosted its 8th annual “Sustainable Opportunities Summit” at the History Colorado Center. I was invited to participate on a panel discussion on Sustainable Water Management as well as accept a “Lifecycle MVP” award on behalf of WhiteWave. The panel session included a lively conversation around how other companies are thinking about water conservation and it was exciting to be able to share some of the great work WhiteWave and our Silk brand are doing on this issue. It was a busy and informative day, to say the least!
One of WhiteWave’s values I (we all) try to live by is “share what we do well”. One of the purposes of CORE is to collaborate and share best practices with businesses and sustainability professionals, and my participation in this event is a great example of “sharing what we do well”.
My favorite CORE quote of late is “sustainability is more than a sound bite, it’s a sound business strategy”. This couldn’t be a more accurate mantra for me and my role at WhiteWave, working on our Corporate Sustainability efforts. WhiteWave has had sustainability at its core since its inception. Beginning in 2006 and the years following, we put measures in place around three key environmental goals – Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions, Waste to landfill reductions, and non-ingredient water reductions all with a target year of 2013.
Well, here we are in 2013 – and while we’ve made great progress against our goals, we still have a lot of work to do. With the end of 2013 just around the corner – it’s time for new strategy, new goals, and new targets for our sustainability program. We remain aspirational and will continue to set stretch goals and activate great strategies and tactics. It’s no small job, but we are on it. Stay tuned here on The Grazing Mind for more updates on our sustainability goals and achievements. We hope you’ll join us in helping to make a difference.
Another record setting Community Food Share “Compete to Beat Hunger” Corporate Challenge has come to close. Community Food Share (CFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides more than seven million meals each year to those in need in Boulder and Broomfield, Colo. Counties. Preliminary numbers from the corporate challenge are showing WhiteWave employees raised $88,865 through online donations and events held at our office. We totally blew our fundraising goal of $63,000 out of the water and I’m thrilled!
In addition, to commemorate our spin-off from Dean Foods, we increased our corporate match from $1 to $1.50, which brings our total contribution to CFS to $222,162.50 or 888,650 meals to feed those in need in Boulder and Broomfield counties. Community Food Share couldn’t be more pleased with our generous donation and I had so much fun being part of the Corporate Challenge planning efforts. Can’t wait to do it again next year!
In other fundraising news, for the first year we invited our regional sales offices, plants and farms to raise money for their local Feeding America food banks during the same timeframe to make an impact in their local communities. Results are still rolling in, but so far our regional sales offices have raised enough money to provide 4,000 meals to help those in need. Very impressive!