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My goal for a new job

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 First off, I just have to say, technology is an amazing thing sometimes.  I couldn’t get the old writing juices flowing this morning, so instead, I can write on my “lunch break” on my phone.  How cool is that?  You never know where you will have the time and quiet to write, so why not be ready?  Ok, yes, I am easily amazed, but I couldn’t resist sharing that.

 Now that I am down to my home stretch at work, I have started to think a great deal about what I want from a new job.  Since goals that don’t get recorded, don’t get accomplished, I am writing a wish list for myself of things that I want from a new job or career path.  That way I can take a look at what it is I really want to do.

 I do find it amazing to see even as I scratch this list out, how much I have changed over the last five years.  When I was job hunting before, I was so concerned with staying inside of my comfort box.  I looked only at pay and benefits.  That was it.  Bonus points for being able to sell technology products.  Now, while I still care about being able to support my family, I don’t care about any of that crap now.  So I am writing myself a shopping list of what I want, that way I remember.

 When you come up to a career transition, you should do the same thing.  If we continue to only accept the status quo, we will never change our outcomes.

 1) I want to be self employed fully within 3 years.

 I have changed so drastically in the last few years, I see this being doable, even if I don’t exactly know in what form yet.  At this point I have so many ideas, I just need to throw them at the wall and see what sticks.  I will certainly be starting out doing these things PT on the side.  I will have to go get a mainstream job at least at first.  

 So here is how I will measure success with that.  I want to make 10% of my income in the first year, 30% in the second, and 60% in the third.  If I can make 60% replacement income with something that’s only PT, there is no reason you couldn’t exceed your income by doing it full time.  If I don’t hit that number, I stay in the mainstream world.

 2) I want to work with my wife

 Working a job by myself would be boring, and take time away from my family.  I like spending time with her, and if you do what you like, you never work a day in your life.  Our chicken book was good because she co-wrote it with me.  Tribal succeeds when she helps me with posting and reaching out to people.  So whatever job venture we embark on has to be done together.  God has forced me to be humble by making me desire to write, but only write well when I have the help of my soulmate.  At least my ego won’t inflate. 

 3) I want to work with my hands

 We always say work smart, not hard, and that’s good advice.  Unfortunately, so many of us are taught that if we work with our hands, we are a failure.  Working with my hands is very freeing for me.  It allows my mind to wander, create and dream, while I am doing something else.  It keeps me from getting burned out.  So I want to build or create something with my own hands.

 4) I want to work outside

 It took living in the desert to teach me that I like to be outdoors.  I also realized that I don’t like being in the desert outdoors anymore.  So I want to be able to work where I can feel the wind on my face.  I want to work where I can feel the sun on my back some days, and the fog in my face on other days.  I want to see trees, grass and blue sky.  This office wall crap is for the birds.

 5) I want to listen to music while I work

 I never thought this would be a big deal for me, and it might be a product of my home theater sales background, but I loved having a stereo in my office at the store here.  I could plug in my tunes and get my work done while listening to music.  I want to have that with my new gig.  Whether it’s music or podcasts, my brain works better when it has something to absorb while I do other things.

 That is my dream list.  We will see how many of those I am able to achieve in the short term.  In the long term, these are a requirement.  I am glad that I thought this out.  I think too often we are afraid to seek what it is we really want, because we are told it can’t happen.  Well heck with it, I am going to MAKE it happen.

Lead from the front, not from the mud

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 Despite how much I am desperately looking forward to leaving at least this particular part of my career behind, feel like I have taken many good lessons away from it.  I had the good fortune to work for two of the best mentors I have ever had.  One who taught me how to sell, and one who taught me how to lead.  As I look back on all that has taken place, I am thankful that I have learned these things, and they will make me more able to succeed in my own dreams.

 One of the best lessons I took away was actually unlearning a bad leadership habit from the past.  I think it is one that many people suffer from, and it almost feels un-American to question it.  Yet by following what we feel is the most noble or egalitarian route, we are actually damaging the unit as a whole.

 That is the principle of leading from the front.  In every interview you are asked how you would lead or inspire the people you are put in charge of.  For some reason, the vast majority of us feels compelled to talk about how you would lead from the front and never ask people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.  

 This isn’t a bad sentiment, and no doubt the vast majority of people that make this statement mean it with all possible sincerity.  We don’t want our bosses to think of us as sitting back in an easy chair while the crew does all the work.  So then we hop in there with them and dust the shelves, or fix the price signs, or clean the fridge, or whatever.  No doubt this makes the team love you.  You are one of the boys, proud torch carrier of the noble traditions, but are you really doing what you should?  Is that really the best use of your time?

 As a leader, you are paid more, and given more responsibility.  It is your job to ensure the success of the entire team.  That is why you are paid more.  Your job is to be looking at the big picture, and making decisions based on what you see.  For as good as it feels to be part of the team, if your unit fails, talking about the number of shelves you dusted isn’t going to go over well at your next performance review.

 This was something I learned here.  I used to clean the items.  I used to fix the price signs.  I used to do all of those tasks.  What I wasn’t doing was watching and listening to my crew.  I found out how much more valuable it is to stand back and evaluate and train than it is to task.  When done right, you can operate a team of six people as an extension of yourself, and that can’t be done when you are down in the mud with them.

 It is a noble ideal that we are all equal in what we do, but we aren’t.  Someone has to make the choices, and that person is you.  Don’t get so lost in the trenches that you can’t see over the next rise.

Why ELSE permaculture hasn’t caught on

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As I mentioned yesterday, in the course of writing my post, I was able to think of three more reasons why permaculture hasn’t caught on yet.  So rather than creating one long mega post, I split it up into the two days to make it a little more readable.  The other thing I noticed about how these fell, is that these three can apply to more than just permaculture.  These three are all excellent reasons why many initiatives fail.  So while I am writing this about permaculture, I bet you could apply these to just about every environmental initiative you know.

#1 Hippies aren’t good spokespeople

hippies

Ok, now this one may come off as touchy if you don’t look at it objectively, since many of my readers either were legitimate hippies or at least identify with the movement.  So don’t get defensive.  This is strictly a discussion on the use of hippies as spokespeople, not a commentary on hippies in general.

There are two main problems with identifying as a hippie when trying to promote something.  First, they look different.  When you are selling an idea, you want people to be able to identify with the person selling it.  Either they could be that person, or they could be with that person.  Often people can’t feel either when it comes to hippies.  So while hippies might be a great draw to college children, they aren’t going to make any in roads with the actual movers and shakers in life.

Benfalk

Go for less of the Jerry Garcia look, and more of the Ben Falk.  Ben runs Whole Systems Design in Vermont and is a certified PDC Instructor.  Also looks like a professional.

Second, hippies aren’t very good at actually executing ideas.  Lets take a look at the occupy movement shall we.  A bunch of hippies had the idea that they would block traffic in major cities and change the world.  They got the first part done, but couldn’t even agree on goals.  So in the end, they just ended up hanging out in a park until they got cold and dirty.  So when we have a great system that is PROVEN TO WORK, we lump ourselves in with that when we present it wrong.

Again, this is about presenting an idea, not how you live.  Live however you want.

#2 Free Giveaway = garbage

free

Sign up for this credit card, get a free T-shirt.  That little toy inside the crackerjack box.  Free ski weekend if you sit through this Timeshare presentation.  People automatically associate free with bad.  Free can’t be quality.  It’s going to break.  Worst of all, by accepting this free thing, I am somehow going to get snookered down the road.

So why do we keep trying to give permaculture away for free?

Charity is a wonderful thing, and many people feel called to do better for their neighbours, and those are noble ideals, but people automatically distrust free.  We need less veggie co-ops and more “Eddie’s edible landscapings”.  We need less Permaculture blitzes and more “Bluegrass Food Forestry”.  We are standing on a gold mine of food information that is PROVEN TO WORK.  Stop trying to give it away for free to prove it.  We are living in an era when people are paying $10 a pound for organic Kale.  Get out there and make some money.  People are much more likely to sit up and take notice of a successful business that is creating good in a community than yet another group of idealists looking for donation.  Plus, once a business is successful, others will try to replicate it.  If it is really about making the world better, rather than stoking your ego, the best way to do it is to create a business.

#3 – We can’t afford green initiatives

save

Permaculture is an excellent way to save the planet.  The upsides of this system are nearly endless.  It uses no chemicals, less water and improves the land.  Animals are happier.  People are healthier.  It is the deliverance of all of the green initiatives ideas into one form.  Best of all, it actually makes people freer, unlike many green initiatives relying on government strong arming.

Boy, that sounds really expensive.

It isn’t.  We all know that it isn’t, but we continue to pitch it in a way that sounds expensive.  People are automatically associating us with the $10 kale movement mentioned above.  When you talk about what something can do for the earth, you set off the cash register sound in someone’s head.  Bad for marketing.

What we need to do, is emphasize how much it can save people money.  How much money would you save if you provided 25% of your own food?  Or 50%? What if you didn’t have to pay for medicine anymore because you weren’t sick?  What if you only had to drive to the store once a month?  What if you made some extra money selling veggies or eggs to your neighbours?

Again, these are all concrete benefits that are PROVEN to work.  So lets talk about what they can do for someone.  Marjorie Wildcraft has sold 250,000 of her DVDs because she called it “Growing your groceries” not “Saving the planet in my backyard”.  You need to hit people where it counts.  In their wallets.

So the next time you feel sad that permaculture isn’t the way of the land.  Stop thinking like a zealous true believer, and think about what you can do to correct the situation.  This will spread or fail based on what we do.  So let’s spread the right message.

Why hasn’t permaculture caught on in the US?

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A friend of ours on Facebook last night posted an article, and asked a question with it.  The article was about permaculture blitzes, and can be found here.  You can read it if you like, but it is essentially about the establishment of a permaculture round robin work force.  You volunteer to help others, then they eventually get around to helping you.  None of which I have a problem with, I just didn’t find it fascinating.  Then she asked a question, why hasn’t permaculture caught on here in the United States?

Well, my first thought when I read it was, it has.  Look at me, I am a 28 year old retail manager with a background in technology sales and marketing.  I learned about permaculture, and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I want to design, grow and teach.  How many others are there out there like me?  More than we would think I am sure.  Our message is getting out, but of course, all true believers want that message to be 100% of the population right away.  For us, our numbers can doubly yearly and it would still be a fraction of 1% of the population.  So it is growing, but this is the long haul road.

My second thoughts were a list of things that we permaculture people do wrong that are stopping this message from growing faster.  Perhaps these thoughts came to me easier since I am a newbie in this motion.  It is easier for me to take a step back and look at the whole of this because I am not swept up in true believer syndrome.  We cannot be blind to the weaknesses of our message if we ever have hope of spreading it to others.  So here are some of the things that I think we need to address about ourselves if we ever have hope of taking permaculture mainstream.

Issue #1: Our Bible

PDM

If you are a permacultureist you know what this book is.  This is the designers manual, originally written by Bill Mollison when he set out to codify permaculture in writing.  This is the book that we tell all newbies to go and read to gain an understanding of what we are doing.  That’s a problem.

Have any of you ever read this book?  I have tried.  Repeatedly.  To make any progress into this book.  I know for a fact there is a ton of great info buried in this thing, but to get through it, you have to sift through a lot.  What information is there is very dry and dense.  It’s also sandwiched between a bunch of claims that have been proven false, such as all trees disappearing from America by 2000, or all saguaros being lost from the desert.  These claims would have been hard enough to believe in the 70s, but at least the dates hadn’t come and gone yet.

Permaculture is a great, wonderful, fascinating and living science.  People in this movement are doing amazing things in incredible places.  We are turning deserts green, and growing annuals foods in the tundra of Montana.  Stop trying to make this boring for new people.  It would be like telling new converts to Christianity to go read the book of Deuteronomy to get them started.  You picked the absolute worst thing as an introductory vessel.

Issue #2: Stop fighting about what is and isn’t permaculture enough

spiral

This is a picture of an herb spiral.  It’s a way to grow many of the spices you need for your kitchen within easy access to improve your diet.  This is one of the many dozens of fixture types in permaculture.  So yes, if someone builds an herb spiral they are practising at least a part of permaculture.  What if 10 yards from that area, he has a traditional garden that he tills every spring and puts down fertilizer?  Is he still a permacultureist?

Most people in the movement would say no.  He is breaking the rules.  He isn’t doing it like you would.  He is using chemicals.  I would say, shut up.  At least he is doing something right.  Rather than punishing people for not going 100% of the way into the permaculture mindset, we should encourage everyone who puts even a toe into the permaculture waters.  Let us reward the effort, rather than punishing them for lack of purity.  We should be uniting together with every effort and supporting them, rather than look for reasons that they aren’t as pure as you are.  Every person that we get on-board strengthens the movement, so lets bring them all on.

#3 Stop making permaculture sound like socialist garbage.

There are three primary ethics of permaculture.

Care of people

Care of the earth

Return of surplus

This is straight from the mouth of Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, the founder and crown prince of permaculture.  If you can’t take their word for it, whose can you take?  I think the first two we can all agree on, I haven’t heard them bastardized yet.  The last one though, that’s the one that causes trouble.

The rule is return of surplus.  This can apply to both a physical substance, such as returning chicken poop to the garden, or something more metaphysical, such as charity work.  In permaculture, we are looking to create closed systems, where the waste product from one thing is used to solve an issue with something else.  Again, like chicken poop.

Instead, what some people want to do, is use that as a justification for socialism.  Taking from those that have more than you think they should based on your arbitrary jealousy.  That is not why permaculture was created.  It is merely being used by some of the same people that always try to advance a socialist agenda.  Infiltrating something good and trying to turn it to evil.  That one phrase has done more to damage the permaculture movement in the USA than anything else, as most of our society still knows that it is garbage.  We, as permaculturists need to stand up and stand against this bastardization of our values.  Our message would spread much faster if it wasn’t carrying along needless baggage.

While typing this I actually thought of more, but I will save those for tomorrow.

Expanding you borders, and seeing what’s new

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What do you think of when you think of Arizona?  Maybe the Grand Canyon, our big beautiful hole in the ground.  Maybe a lone saguaro sticking out of the sand.  Maybe the big bustling metropolis of Phoenix.  Maybe the college with a reluctant city around it that calls itself Tucson.  Certainly those are the big things that draw the most people, so that’s natural, but it’s not all there it to my state.

Jenn and I took a trip up to Show Low, AZ and the surrounding White Mountain area last week.  It is an absolutely gorgeous part of the state, and in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the country.  It very much stirs my soul in the way that all beautiful western places do.  There is something about the vast remoteness that just speaks out to me.  Most importantly for my point, it is absolutely nothing like Tucson, and it is only four hours away.

Take a look at some of the terrain types in this area.

Lake in Alpine AZ

Lake in Alpine AZ

This is a beautiful lake on the road down to Alpine AZ.  You can see we have a lake, which actually has water in it, shocking for Arizona.  The green trees on that hill are about to turn into a large pine forest in just a few more miles.  So yes, trees can grow in AZ.

Frozen lake in Arizona between Springerville and Pinetop

Frozen lake in Arizona between Springerville and Pinetop

I don’t actually think this is a lake, I think it was just a field that got flooded and froze, but it was beautiful.  This picture is probably about 20-30 miles from the other one.  Trees, ice and snow.

Rolling plains in Arizona between Show Low and Springerville

Rolling plains in Arizona between Show Low and Springerville

Here we have some rolling plains.  At one point this whole vista would have been covered with those little scrub bushes, but where it’s clear is where it was overgrazed.  Arizona, apparently, dedicates a huge portion of it’s north eastern corner to beef production, which is both awesome, and kind of sad to see so many ranchers doing it badly and damaging the land.

Painted Desert in North Arizona

Painted Desert in North Arizona

Lastly of course, we have the Painted Desert.  Which is absolutely gorgeous, and speaks for itself.  You can’t look at this vista and not be swept away.  This is pretty desert.  This is not what the Tucson desert looks like by the way.  Ours is much more, sterile.

All of these pictures were taken on the same weekend.  In fact, all of the except the Painted Desert were taken on the same day.  We spent our vacation driving around, and exploring a new place, and it was beautiful.  All of these pictures were within 100 miles of our cabin.  The cabin was only 4 hours drive from where we live now.  It’s not that far to branch out and explore.

How often do we really get out and explore our surroundings?  How many beautiful things exist only a few hour from your home, and you have never seen them?  When was the last time you went out simply to explore someplace new, and see what surprises life holds for you?

This country contains some of the most amazing places and people of anywhere on earth, but we often go through such lengths to make sure we never encounter them.  We fall into our routine and stay nice and cozy inside our box.  That’s no way to live.  Get out and explore.  See what there is.  The world is very different so close to us, if you only get out and look.

We stay in one place, and make snap judgements on the entire world based on our experiences.  Well, that thing you said might be true where you live, but it might not be true down the road.  How will you know unless you get off your butt and explore?

I would challenge everyone who reads this to find someplace they have never been within 3 hours of their home, and go see it.  Three hours or less can be done all in one day if you want.  Go out, see it, and come back.  Bonus points if you just pick a direction or a destination and go, without knowing what’s there first.  Those are the best kind of experiences.  You just might shock yourself.  The world is so much of a bigger and more open place than we ever want to admit.  Most of the limits we place on ourselves are simply that, self imposed.  We pretend we are trapped to justify why we can’t do something.  So go out there and remember you are free.

 

 

Farm supression in Michigan

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Well folks, I am just going to apologize upfront.  I am about to intentionally fail in a mission that I set for myself, and I am ok with that.  When I started this blog, I knew that it could very easily just turn into a mindless bitch session about things that irritate me, and I didn’t want it to.  So I made it my goal to provide only useful information or uplifting thoughts as much as I could.  I think most days this leads to a good product for you all to enjoy.

Today is not going to be one of those days.  Today I am angry, and since addressing that anger at those people that rightfully deserve it would probably count as sending threatening letters, I will take care of that here, in my own forum.

So what’s going on?

The township of Williamstown in Michigan has broken it’s word to a resident.  The government lied to you, shocker.  This woman was specifically looking for a place that she could homestead.  She wanted to have the dream that I have, and the dream that many of us have, of being able to raise her own food.  Before she bought her property, she checked with the township.  They said her property would be fine for what she wanted to do.  Shockingly enough, they have decided to go against their own rules, and have ordered her to cease operation.  This family is doing what more of us should, she is fighting back.

There is really no need for me to recount the issue in it’s entirety.  You can read an article from the Lansing Post here, as well as a detailed blog from Jessica Hudon here.  At least read the blog post, she does an excellent job of explaining all that she has worked on.

Have we really come so far as a country, that we are actively seeking to punish people for doing the right thing?  This isn’t about shouting dirty words in public, or hanging up paintings with feces, or smoking dope in the street, or any of that other bullshit that gets the fake freedom lovers up and waving.  To them freedom isn’t about being free, it’s about being shocking.  If you have shocked someone, you are a protected class.

No, this is about actual freedom.  It’s about the freedom to do as you please with your own property.  A tenant that used to be sacred in this country.  It’s about the freedom to feed ourselves and our families as we see fit.  It’s about the freedom to live independent of a system of control.  Control on the very food that we put into our mouths.  Food that is purposely being tampered with.  Food that is more and more proving toxic to the very people that are supposed to be nourished by it.

This is not an isolated incident.  A front yard garden was destroyed in Tulsa Oklahoma, despite being up to code.  This was a sick woman who used the fresh foods to treat a variety of ailments of hers.  A friend of my very own community, Witch’s Way Homestead, was just forced to give up her animals.  A woman who was using these animals to help pull herself and those around here off of food stamps.  Isn’t that what this country is all about?  Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and improving your life?

This is what we are left with?  A government that is so lost in it’s own self delusion that it reckons itself the infinite master of all time and space?  Governments all across the country are flat broke.  They can’t afford the games they insist on playing, yet they are addicted to the power.  They simply cannot stop.  To stop would admit that they are irrelevant, and they we were able to survive for hundreds of years without the programs they insist we need.

We are at the very fragile beginnings of an American Renaissance.   We are remembering who we are, and what we came from.  We are remembering what it was like to do for ourselves, and look out over a field of our own accomplishment.  We are remembering what it was like to be free, and you know what, a good many of us are willing to fight for it.

So what can you do?

Well, if I can’t be positive today, I can at least give an attack strategy.  This family is setting up a rural homesteaders legal defense fund.  If they get the township to back down, they will use the money for others in a similar situation.  You can donate here, I already did.  You can also go here, to find the contact information for the township’s leadership.  I suggest a polite, but scathing email to these petty tyrants, whether you choose to donate or not.

Lastly, reach out to others of like mind in these communities, and fight back.  This is a fight for our very way of life, and we need to quit laying back and taking it.  This isn’t about backyard hens or raw milk anymore.  This is about petty tyrants trying to control how we live.  We cannot sit here and let this happen.  Lets stand up and punch these jerks in the nose.  The more victories we win, the easier they become to win.  A snowball effect of freedom.

We need to remember.  None of us stand alone.  Every citizen in a sovereign republic needs to be a sentinel of freedom, for a fight for freedom anywhere is a fight for freedom everywhere.  I am watching, and I am fighting.  Stand with me.

Why we should let Whole Foods have their 5 years

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I am sure by now that most people who are plugged into the natural food movement have heard that Whole Food’s market has decreed that by 2018 all foods containing GMOs need to be labeled in their stores.  If you haven’t heard about this, you can go read the article here.  I have found the response to this decree to be a little bit interesting, and I just have to throw my two cents into the mix.

What I have seen, instead of the rampant celebrating that I expected from the pure food movement, has been about equal parts of “why isn’t the government doing this” and “Why aren’t they doing it now”?  I personally find this reaction quite puzzling, which is why I felt compelled to speak.

 

wholefoods

First, I don’t shop at whole foods.  I think in the entire time that I have lived near them in Tucson, I have set foot in their store once, because I wanted to see what they had.  The short answer, is that they had the products I normally buy at higher prices.  I feel when you are shopping there, you are buying a nice slice of status symbol along with your products.  However, they have built a thriving business, so good for them.  The also clearly are willing to put their money where their mouth is and stand up to what will no doubt be an expensive legal process, so also good for them.

NOGMOSo the first type of criticism I have seen is some people saying the states should label the GMO ingredients.  Yes they should, but that is you putting your faith in the very institutions that allowed us to be eating this poison in the first place.  They sold us out to the GMO industry years ago.  So why the hell would we trust them to protect us now?

A state has no vested interest in protecting it citizens.  It has only a vested interest in protecting it’s own power and influence.  As long as they can stay comfortable ensconced in their throne, they would sell us out in a heartbeat.  If the states ever do bother to get up off their butts and label GMOs, the law would have so many loopholes as to be a meaningless joke.  Take a look at the requirements for Organic, and why they don’t match Europe if you don’t believe me.

So no, the government is not the answer.  Unlike a state, a business has a vested interest in serving it’s customers demands.  If they don’t serve, they lose business, and cease to exist.  So while the State of California has no interest in you, Safeway and Whole Foods and Kroger, etc do.  They want what’s in your wallet.  Pushing that lever will get change enacted much faster, since we have a viable alternative to a grocery store that won’t play ball.

The second type of criticism I see is people saying “Why wait till 2018, do it now”.  I looked, and I haven’t seen an official statement from Whole Foods on that, if I am wrong then correct me, but I have my own theories.

First, GMOs are in almost everything.  If Whole Foods want’s to offer GMO free corn tomorrow, I am willing to be they couldn’t do it.  Same with wheat products at right now.  So if they enacted this tomorrow, either their whole store would be labeled, costing them business, or their shelves would be empty, costing them business.  I think they want the time to make this more than just an empty gesture.  They want to setup an actual alternative to the GMO crap.  That will take some time, and I say good for them.

Second, take a Popsicle stick and break it in your hands.  Pretty easy.  Take 50 Popsicle sticks and try to break them.  Good luck.  If Whole Foods switches over right now, they stand alone.  They have 340 locations worldwide.  They are a drop in the bucket.  I think they are going to try to gather other retailers to the same standard.  If Whole Foods stands alone, they can be ignored.  If Whole Foods stands together with even 10% of the industry, they just changed the world.  So I think even now, little meetings are happening, trying to get more people on-board, and I think it will work.

So let’s not do that thing that we always do people.  When we get what we want, we should be happy, instead of just bitching about how it isn’t perfect.  We should be grateful that at least one company is standing up for us, as best they can.  The pioneers always have it hardest, so rather than complaining, lets give them the kudos they deserve.

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