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The Self Examiner

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Tags >> activism

A big thank you to Terces and Matthew from all of us!  Thank you for being fierce love warriors, for always being a space of love, and for listening with compassion for all of us.  Thank you for always seeming to get bigger!  Thank you for holding the space for dialogue and giving us the opportunity to share our amazing organic food and love!!!



In recent weeks, I have found myself wishing for a resolution of the violence in the world.  I have wished that both the police and protestors at the occupy encampments across the nation could find a way to practice non-violence in their actions.  I have often wished that economists, politicians, and those in academia would practice non-violence in their suppositions, beliefs, and attitudes.  And, like many of you, I have wished that the people around me (close friends, family, people next to me on the bus) could practice non-violence day to day in their interactions.


I just got off the phone with Chandra (Director of Operations).  She is at the Oakland Cafe Gratitude supporting the crew there. The Oakland cafe is humming with great energy and high spirits.  Oaklanders are dropping in for food, acknowledging them for their service and thanking them for being available today and then heading to the general strike protest today. Many are thanking Cafe Gratitude for being open today so that they can eat real food and support a company that is doing great work every day.  They are happy to not be forced to get food from a convenient store.  

Oakland Shift Leader and Occupy Oakland community leader, Millan is organizing how to get Grateful Bowls into the crowd and start feeding the hungry masses.  Becka (Acting Kitchen Manager) is as we speak making an enormous amount of rice and gathering fresh greens and tahini dressing to give out to Oakland strikers.  My heart is wide open and radiating by the power of all stepping up and stepping together.  I am so inspired by the partnership of revolutionaries and community-lead business when both are truly committed to the uniting strength of collective uprising and transformation. 

Thank you all for your honesty, your transparency, your devotion and your willingness to listen with love.  Thank you for manifesting this moment.

The question of the day is:  How do you impact your community?

Tagged in: Oakland , community , activism

"There is only one consciousness, equally distributed everywhere." - Ramana Maharshi

This year has been a year like no other in history.  On Jan 25th, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power following 18 days of unrelenting public protest.  In August, Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule came to an end as Libyan rebels overtook Tripoli, after 6 months of civil war.  Earthquakes and tornadoes have escalated to unforeseen severity, and the U.S. has seen the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement in every major city, and met with the opposition of police forces in New York, Cleveland, Oakland, Denver, Atlanta, Nashville, and elsewhere.  



It isn’t every day that you hear great music with a real message.  I mean, not everyone is John Lennon or Bob Marley – right? 

That’s what I thought, but I had to think again when Erin Ross introduced me to Luminaries, a Venice based consciousness-expanding Hip Hop group whose history as teachers, social workers, activists, MCs, and instruments of service informs their music and their message.  These are not just incredible musicians, but messengers of hope, whose song titles on their debut album, “One,” read like a list of mantras: “Everything is One,” “Only Love,” “Show the World,” “Peace” and “Be the Change.”


The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!

We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!

In the Abounding River Logbook, one of the six currents is creation. We say that active creativity is essential to achieving abundance. We must both actively create things in the world, and actively see and create a vision of abundance.  I access creativity through taking personal responsibility. I take responsibility for how I’m acting, what I’m producing, but also what I am actively creating and envisioning. I take responsibility for my vision of the world, and recognize that I can not only create a new vision, but recognize that I have been actively creating my vision of the world all along.

I created a design that was six years in the making that I made become my vision of the world. Out of my education and work in social justice, I envisioned an invasive tree that took too much from the soil. The tree represented the power structures and oppressive systems I wasn’t committed to. In my design (see second image) I created a tearing up of the tree through various metaphorical imagery (vines tugging down the branches, something rotting away the roots… branches being cut off). All of these metaphors I lived by- on how to deconstruct the tree that I saw as being damaging to the overall environment.

And deconstruction is how my life looked for 6 years. I used criticism against everything without much idea for how to instill hope or rebirth after the death of the system. I used various methods of social change to address problems that I saw, and constantly came across seeing that I was never bringing answers or solutions to them. My experience of the world was through that vision that I was actively creating and recreating.      Two weeks ago I really noticed that my tree metaphor wasn’t working for me to create hope. So I set off to find a new image, a rebirth of the tree, or something that I was committed to. I created the image above, the conclusion of the oppressive tree, and a new habitat for a rebirth. In my vision, the roots have been torn away to where all is left is love. Rooted in love, a new sprout is born and there is pure possibility.

As a means to re-train myself in my new vision, I’m taking on the 365 day challenge. Every day for the next year I am creating a piece of art with this new image. Every day through this creativity I am actively creating hope in the world by transforming my vision and by physically expressing my vision to others. I am day by day re-inscribing a new belief through my repeated creations.

The Idea for the practice of 365 projects came from Noah Scalin, who took on creating one image every day with a different medium himself, and then created a journal to encourage others. Check out the book here; check out some of the variations of my design here.              This week I invite you to look at what belief you have that’s causing you suffering. Taking responsibility for it as your creation and not truth is empowering. What can you actively create in its place? What belief can you adopt that serves you and serves the planet? We say that a belief is a thought practiced over and over again. What new thought can you begin with today?


The World Vegetarian Festival comes to San Francisco, October 1-2, 2011!

What better place for health-conscious, compassionate and animal-loving people from across the world to converge, than San Francisco? For twelve years now, the San Francisco Vegetarian Society has thrown its World Veg Festival, which celebrates vegetarianism as a means to become healthy, improve animal welfare and protect the natural environment. Held in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, the fest invites anyone--vegetarian, vegan or neither--to come out for the weekend to experience delicious meat-free meals, learn to prepare heart-healthy dishes, explore the ethical dimensions of a vegetarian diet, and socialize. There will be guest speakers, such as veggie luminaries Colin Campbell and John Robbins, activities, vendors, and even speed dating! So however you want to approach or experience vegetarianism, or even if you want to get a taste of it for the first time, the World Veg Festival can offer you a fun and educational day in the city!

Date:        Saturday, Oct. 1 & Sunday, Oct. 2, 10am - 6pm
Location:    SF County Fair Building, 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, California 94122
Tickets:     $8 at the door, or purchased through Eventbrite.
Phone:        (415) 831-5500


This year, the California Label GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Campaign is committed to proposing legislation to ensure that all GMO foods sold are labelled as containing GMOs. Currently, food distributors are not required to label their food as containing GMOs. Cafe Gratitude is a stand for the labeling and regulation of GMOs, the use of which pose untold threats to the health of our community and planet.
Why does this matter? If you are not currently aware of the social, economic,
ecological, and health dangers posed by GMOs, check out the video of Vandana Shiva, Ph.D. below.  She is a philosopher, environmental activist, and ecofeminist, who is regarded as an authority on the global implications of GMO crops.

What can you do?  Take action today by:
- Spreading the word in your social network, website, or neighborhood: Click Here to Share

- Visit to pledge to collect signatures to help us meet our goal.
- Donate to help this grass-roots campaign succeed!
- Learn how to avoid GMOs when you shop, by going to a local California farmer's market, or by checking out the Center for Food Safety's Non-GMO shopper's guide.
Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us, and for helping us to create this world as a safe, healthy, just place for future generations.


When we describe the United States, “sustainable” is not usually the first word that comes to mind. Our nation is the leading contributor to global warming, and high material consumption has long been taken for granted. But in little pockets across this country, people are forming communities that embrace environmental sustainability as a way of life. And not only environmental sustainability, but social sustainability too. We’re starting to learn that in order to form communities that can endure and thrive, we must not only manage our ecological resources wisely, but also our personal and emotional resources. We must learn to care for and understand each other if we are to form truly sustainable communities.

This Saturday, an exciting new film, Within Reach, enjoys its world premiere in Berkeley. The film chronicles a young couple’s 19-month bicycle journey across the U.S. in their search for what they call “sustainable communities.” They visited 100 communities that seek to live sustainably, exploring not only how these communities interact with the Earth, but also how they practice commerce, how they raise children, and how they build a cohesive social structure. The communities visited are diverse: they range from an electricity-free “radically simplistic” farmstead in Missouri, to a household of Buddhists in Wisconsin (who flourish while spending only $40 each per month on food), to the urban, creative Berkeley Student Housing Co-ops right in our backyard. Not all visits were harmonious—on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, the filmmakers were chased out of a secluded squatter community by an unstable man—but overall, the directors Ryan and Mandy discovered that living in loving harmony was a common thread amongst these communities, which not only brought them together but also sustains them.

At Café Gratitude, we attempt to cultivate a loving, supported community--a socially-sustainable community!—that is also nourished in an environmentally sustainable way. After all, shouldn’t the two go hand-in-hand? More importantly, can they exist without each other? For when we learn to love each other, the people around us, we learn that we can extend this love to future generations as well by protecting our environment. And when we take care of our planet, we nourish all her people. Achieving a sustainable nation may still be a long-term goal, but we can start right now in our own communities.

Gratitude !

We love the expansive feeling we get from cultivating an attitude of Gratitude.

What are YOU Grateful for today ?

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