General troublemaking

Don’t like it? Change it.

The troublemakers mantra: if you don’t like or agree with the way something is done, don’t do it that way. Find a new way. What’s stopping you?

This seems unbearably simple. Unnecessary to post about. So why is it so often ignored? What fear is holding you back?

My dad reminds me regularly: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

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General troublemaking, Professional Growth

The temptation of mediocrity

Mediocrity is pretty tempting. It doesn’t require much effort, much stress, or lack of sleep. Just show up, and do what you are told. Why push to change things? Why make things hard than they have to be?

If you want to be a troublemaker, mediocrity is not an option. Being average is not what makes change. It’s when you stand up for what you believe in, when you take the uncomfortable steps towards the unknown, when you power through the setbacks and strive towards something better, something stronger, something more powerful, that’s when you reap the benefits of being above average.

If you want to change the world, you have to be the changemaker. It’s not easy, and not always glamorous, but it has to be done. Why not be the one to do it?

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Healthy Living, My favorite things

Why I love selling tahini

Something you may not know about me: at night I moonlight as a tahini saleswoman.

Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration. But I have now helped out the fabulous women at Soom Foods sell their products on two occasions, and both times I have had a blast. I like to help them for a few reasons:

  1. Soom Foods was founded by three sisters, one of whom is my former boss, mentor, and dear friend, and consequently have grown to love the other Soom sisters.
  2. I truly believe it’s the best tahini you can buy in the USA.
  3. It aligns with my values of healthy, clean eating (if you don’t know, tahini is made from sesame seeds, a super food with wonderful health properties such as lots of protein, calcium, iron, and omega 3-fatty acids).

And their product sells itself, because it’s that good. It’s healthy, delicious, and inarguably something you need to have in your pantry if you are dedicated to that lifestyle.

Today it became obvious to me the reason why I love helping them selling their products:

You stop “selling,” and start inspiring, when you are selling something you believe in.

This sentiment extends well beyond the sale of tahini. It extends into the work we do and the things we love. Work no longer acts as “work” when it’s something you love, something you believe in. When you are working for a product, service, organization, or otherwise that you must share it with other people, that it beings you joy or excitement to spread the gospel, and that you genuinely believe in, things are different.

Let’s work towards finding that thing. Because time is precious, and your talents are not worth spending on anything that is otherwise.

 

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Entrepreneurship, General troublemaking, Troublemakers

Ruckusmaking, Troublemaking; Let’s just make something

Hello, dear friends. It’s been a while. I have been lost in the chaos of my own personal and professional troublemaking and have neglected to catch you up on my learnings. We have so much to get done. Here we go.

Last weekend I attended a workshop called Ruckusmakers with the one and only Seth Godin. Having been a big fan of Seth’s work for a while, I was delighted, nay, thrilled to attend this workshop when my colleague Todd invited me to do so (thank you again, Todd!!).

Seth’s work focuses on the importance of making change. Change is at the nexus of improving society, being happier, being productive, and making a difference. Change is what allows us to grow in ways we never thought possible, to push the boundaries of our personal and professional lives, and to advance our agenda. If you aren’t changing, well, you’re moving backwards.

Right off the bat, I know Ruckusmakers was my jam. Ruckusmaking sounds pretty darn close to troublemaking, and to be in a room full of people who love to cause a scene is the place I always want to be. It’s easy in our daily lives to fall back into complacency, to accept the way the world is because it’s easy and comfortable and what we are taught in school. We are taught to study to pass a test, to know the right answers, to only speak when we are called on. Nowadays that just doesn’t fly. The way of the future is to make ruckus, to make necessary trouble, to make something you believe in. There simply isn’t time for otherwise. If we aren’t creating, we aren’t contributing. And the world really, really needs us to step up.

At Ruckusmakers learned a LOT, both hard skills and soft. I met some pretty inspiring people. And while I am still digesting it all, I hope to frame it back to you so that we, together, can continue on our journey towards challenging the status quo, not giving in when others laugh or roll their eyes, and trek forward on a path we believe in. There just ain’t no other way.

I will leave you with one nugget from Seth that I have been thinking about constantly. He shared with us:

Failure is just learning one way not to do something.

Let’s succeed, let’s fail, let’s just do. We will figure it out eventually.

Onwards.

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General troublemaking

The trouble with troublemaking

Trouble making is hard. Really hard. You can care– care deeply– about a fundamentally important issue and life still manages to peek its head in and get in the way of you taking action.

I am a passionate person about many topics, if you couldn’t tell already. Some of these topics include conscientious consumerism, refugee issues, and homelessness. I try to bring these issues to the forefront of my life, to make them a central piece of who I am and what I practice and how I live and breathe.

But then there’s work.

And there are bills.

And there are really, truly, only 24 hours in a day.

And all the sudden the things you care about, the issues that keep you up at night start to keep you up for an additional reason– because you feel you aren’t doing enough. Because you feel that you should have an answer to homelessness, or you shouldn’t have bought a couch that wasn’t ethically made.

I am telling you this, my dear troublemakers, because as someone who works with hundreds of troublemakers every day, as someone who knows many of the “answers” on how to take sustainable action, I struggle, constantly, as most troublemakers I know do. We never feel like we are doing enough. We often, if not always, feel like there’s something grander, something more impactful, we could be doing. It’s important we all know that so we can support each other in those times of “what the heck should I do now?”

It’s during these times I remind that my thoughts, my intentions, are important and world-changing. While I strongly believe that ideas don’t change the world, and action does, I also believe action stems from an intention, from caring about something. That intention will ultimately drive me to my goal.

I also turn to my community, which is what I aim to build here. Surrounding myself with other troublemakers (which I am fortunate to do in my day job as well as my side job!) propels me forward. It inspires me to action. And it teaches me how to pursue the things I care about the most.

How do you live and breathe your passions? And if you don’t, how do you balance your desire to change the world with your day-to-day?  Let me know in the comments.

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General troublemaking, Tech

Are we living life, or watching it?

Lately I have become more acutely aware of how much time I, and others around me, spend experiencing the world around them through the lens of a phone camera, live tweets and Facebook statuses. Which has led me to wonder how much of the experiences we partake in are for ourselves, and how much is for the display to the world of how great our life is. I found myself thinking:

Are memories as enjoyable if they aren’t shared– physically or digitally– with others?

In an age of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and more (all platforms I use regularly!), I find myself and my peers seeking the perfect shot, the most beautiful representation of any moment. But are these moments really beautiful, or are we portraying them in a way that makes others seem that way? Are we partaking in activities just to put on display that we have done so? And when we find ourselves in a  truly memorable experience, are we really enjoying that sunrise, delicious meal, inspiring speaker, or adorable puppy or are we spending so much time trying to capture their beauty that we miss out on it altogether?

It’s a true concern of mine. Am I living my life, or watching it go by? Am I seeking to impress others to see what I see, or living my life so it’s something I am proud to display? And are those special moments becoming increasingly less special unless we can share them with others? While photography is a love and passion of mine, that doesn’t mean it has to be for all to see.

I have been toying with the idea going on an Instagram vacation. It’s laughable that that’s a challenging decision, to stop my publicly visible life for a month or two in order to really live it. Yet it’s hard in the digital age to not fall into the pit of social media, of displaying your every action– correction, every enjoyable, beautiful, impressive action– to all your closest friends and frienemies that can see your accounts.

As I type this, I decide I will partake in this experiment. Sorry folks, my Instagram is now on hiatus. See ya in 2015– who is with me?

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Social Innovation, Sustainable Living, Tech, Troublemakers

Meet Troublemaker Morgan Berman, Founder and CEO of MilkCrate

morgan-woodI met Morgan Berman when she participated in the Tribe12 Fellowship, a PresenTense Accelerator, this past spring. I was immediately excited by her Idea for MilkCrate, an app for sustainable living (think: yelp for socially responsible/sustainably focused businesses). Dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle as much as possible myself, I was excited to learn more about this necessary troublemaker and support her in building a lasting impact through her app. I interviewed Morgan, read on to learn a bit about what inspires her and more about MilkCrate, as well as her tips for living a sustainable lifestyle.

What inspired you to create MilkCrate?
I wanted to learn how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I began by reading and researching sustainability and the local economy here in Philadelphia. I joined a community garden and eventually started a new one, composted on my deck, ditched my car for a bike, and shopped the local green community here in Philadelphia. Over time my lifestyle choices became immersed in all things green. As a requirement for my Sustainable Design Masters Program at Philadelphia University I developed a thesis that would become the very first version of MilkCrate. I wanted to design something from beginning to end. However my M.Sc. program was focused on the built environment. Most of my peers were architects or engineers. I am neither. So I had to find something I could design that if it ‘broke’, no one would die. An app felt like a good, skill-based place to start. I figured, “I worked at Apple part-time for a year teaching people how to use an iPhone, that’s a good enough qualification to design an app, right?”

How does MilkCrate enable individuals to support their local communities?
Right now MilkCrate is a basic tool allowing you to find businesses and resources connected to sustainability and the local economy right in your neighborhood and throughout the city. Future versions will have a community calendar, social media integration, and many other ways for people to personalize their experience, while connecting with others in the sustainability community, including business owners and our partner organizations.

Why is sustainable living important to you?
It was just a part of growing up. My parents kept a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and composted. My mom and I shopped at thrift stores, first, the mall last. We even dumpster dived, and made some great (but embarrassing) curb-side finds. She eventually started a business called Thrift Shop Maniac Enterprises from her developing skill set and consciousness, and I was there, helping out and learning by osmosis. We re-purposed, reused, rethought, consigned and donated; we rarely if ever considered throwing anything out. But I guess it all came together for me when I started to understand the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, and the uneven distribution of natural resources on people’s lives all over the world. Locally, I care about the lack of access to affordable fresh healthy food here in Philadelphia. And don’t get me started on what treacherous circumstances cyclist like myself face biking around the city in car congested, polluted streets.

How do you live your life in a sustainable way?bannerphonenew
I filter every decision I make through the same process that surrounded me growing up: I buy most of my food locally, whether from farmers markets or restaurants. I compost on my deck and grow a small garden. I bike everywhere. I don’t own a car. I purchase a lot of my clothes secondhand, at thrift or consignment stores. I always have a water bottle and generally cut down packaging in as many ways as possible. I get my energy from Green Mountain Energy. I make sure things like batteries or lightbulbs get disposed of properly. Even my cat Chester is recycled from the SPCA. Once you start living, deciding, shopping this way, the easier it gets.

What are three things Necessary Troublemakers can do today to start living a more sustainable life?
You only need one now: Use MilkCrate! Or if you aren’t in the Philly area, help us grow to your city by contributing to our Indiegogo Campaign before it ends on September 23rd.

What piece of advice can you give to individuals who want to take action on issues that are important to them?
Find other people who care about the same things you do. They have sustained me. They will sustain you.

What’s your favorite item or service you’ve received/purchased from a MilkCrate partner?
I could never pick an all time favorite, there are just too many moments of finding the next great company or product. For me, my favorite ‘moment’ now is giving others the opportunity to find their newest, favorite MilkCrate company. Now that our app is available to download, anyone can find a new MilkCrate favorite in the Philadelphia area, and soon anywhere.

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General troublemaking, Healthy Living, My favorite things

Returning to Local

One of the more disappointing first-world moments of my life was when I asked a person in Switzerland what their best and most famous chocolate was, and he said Lindt. “LINDT?!,” I thought, “the one that I get at CVS back in New York?” Unfortunately, that was one of my many rude awakenings as a travel seeking to experience the best of “local” life. I am fortunate to live in a city where I have access to the world at my fingertips, but it makes traveling sometimes quite the bummer. Lately it seems that as the world grows more connected, the less we are able to really appreciate the novelty of traveling to a new place, experiencing a new culture, and tasting a type of food we’ve never tasted before.

I find it interesting that after years of globalization, at the all time high (and perpetually growing) level of global connectedness, many are now seeing a shift back to the importance of shopping and eating local. People are interested in knowing the source of their produce and proteins. Many people care about where the fabric for our clothes came from, and who made it. Websites such as madeclose focus on just that— helping individuals gain access to where their purchases are coming from. The new CUPS app here in NY aims to have New Yorkers frequent small, independent coffee shops, shifting the focus away from ever-present Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Grub Street wrote a fabulous article a few months ago about why you should not eat at the new Dairy Queen that just opened in NYC. My friend Kristin of Seamly.co just made the decision to only source fabrics made in the USA or Canada so that she can trace back their origins.

With the world becoming increasingly transparent, it is important to many people, including some of the worlds most dominant troublemakers, to buy local and understand the ecosystem our food, clothing, and the like exist in. We no longer have the luxury (excuse?) of ignorance. It’s something I aim to be consistently cognizant of– stay tuned to learn more about my sustainable fashion challenge– and I am curious to hear what you have to say.

Do you go out of your way to support local businesses? If not, is there something in particular that is stopping you?

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