The Family Practice

family life is a practice in balance and flow

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LNU Education Day (4)

Yesterday was the fourth education day in my LNU journey. If you’re a new reader, I suggest going back to the beginning where I talk about what Leadership Northern Utah is and how I got involved. You can also find information on the first three ed days here; October: an overview of Ogden/Weber County, November: Homelessness in Weber County, December: front-line community services and a tour of downtown.

Yesterday was all about Economic Development, both in the public and the private sector. How businesses play a role, how and why government is involved and third party players like property developers/managers.

Our day started at the Chamber of Commerce offices, as always, for a brief discussion of our upcoming project. One of the main goals of LNU is to complete a community benefit project prior to our graduation from the program in June. We have settled on a project now and are in the process of compiling data and resources so we can map out our timeline and task list.

From there we headed to the county offices for a meeting with Weber County Director of Economic Development, Doug Larsen. This was probably the most interesting (for me) part of the day and I could have stayed and asked questions for another several hours. Doug was really generous in sharing with our group the Weber Economic Development Partnership’s Progress Report that was originally compiled to report back to the county commissioner. The report outlines the group’s core values and objectives, what business expansion/attraction/retention projects the group has successfully completed since the program’s implementation in 2012, as well as the economic impact of those efforts. It also outlines their major goals for the next 5-15 years and their primary objectives in the interim. One thing that I asked about and would really love to see more of from the EDP (and Ogden City’s econ development council) is a bigger and better platform for public education on what these groups are doing. I mean honestly, it is incredible and people should know what their government is doing to actively drive economic increase – in home values, in job opportunities, in quality of education, in quality of life and everything in between. This is a major goal for me this year; get this story out there.

Next up was Cottages of Hope. I’ll be brutally honest in telling you that we spent nearly an hour being presented to and I left with very little understanding of what it is this group does. I understand that they want to provide financial training and bring various services together under one roof so that client’s have “coordinated case management” but I really can’t tell you what Cottages of Hope does themselves. I was also a little put off by some of the statistics that were shared with us like “we can help a client in a third of the time as workforce services” but then explaining how they limit their clients – it seems like a pretty cherry-picked way to serve the community and then boast about your results. And maybe that’s cynical of me, that’s just the vibe I got. We were told that they’ll provide free tax preparation for anyone, come to your work etc. but we never got the full rundown on how they were funded. Being that I’m the marketing VP for Junior League of Ogden (a 501c3) and am looking into starting my own nonprofit the lesson I learned here, and I’m going to manipulate a verse from the Bible: “have a vision and make it plain.” And then this…from my Stanford class on startups: “If it takes more than a sentence to define what you’re doing, it’s too complicated.”

Our next stop was Peery’s Egyptian Theater and the Ogden Eccles Convention Center. I believe I mentioned the theater in a previous LNU post, but here are the facts anyways. It was built in 1924 and the reason for this being the “egyptian theater” as well as others around the country, is that King Tut’s tomb had been discovered the year previously and there was a huge craze across the country for all things egyptian. It’s amazing to me that the building lasted through all of Ogden’s history (including a phase where the theater was painted pepto bismol pink because the egyptian thing had gone out of style). Somewhere around the 80s the theater was in serious disrepair and it just sort of sat there for a bit. It was remodeled and the convention center was added to the north side in 1997. Fun fact for you: Peery’s in Ogden is one of the Sundance film festival locations and there are 13 films playing, starting next Saturday. Check out the guide I put together for 25th Street.

(a hand sketch of the theater renovations)

The Convention Center tour was interesting and they shared a lot of stats with us on how the building is used, what types of visitors come through Ogden and how all of that comes together to positively impact the community – bed taxes, general tourist spending stats, etc. We had lunch there as well, complete with what might have been the best piece of chocolate cake I’ve ever had. I know, from a convention center. Really.

Our next meeting was waylaid a bit which I actually really appreciated because it gave me a chance to check my voicemail, reply to some urgent emails and let me brain recoup for a bit. These LNU days are great but one of my biggest complaints is that it is here, and then here, and then here and we don’t get any down time to brain dump over what we’ve learned or noticed, etc. There’s really no engagement with our group beyond whoever you happen to ride with between locations. Meh…I’ll get off my soap box.

The rest of our day was spent at in the Business Depot Ogden which was originally called the Defense Depot Ogden and used for logistical supply chain and later as an Italian and German POW camp during WWII. Now, it’s an industrial park with offices for places like esurance, Wayfair, and Hershey’s. We met with Boyer Company, the property managers for the BDO and other places around the area. We got to see an overview map of the area and their development plans for the future as well as preservation plans for the existing structures. And then we went and visited two businesses that call the BDO home.

The first was Barnes Aerospace – where we had to turn in our cell phones and agree not to share anything proprietary, like we’d know it if we saw it lol. I was totally impressed by Barnes from the way they’ve reincorporated humanity into the Toyota Production System, LEAN and all that, to the way they value input from every level of the company, to the absolute order and cleanliness on their production line. I was really, really blown away. Nick is in manufacturing and his company deals with a lot of these same issues – and implements many of the same programs – but it’s the human factor that we have discussed a lot. TPS doesn’t really care how happy or consistent employees are at the end of the day, or if a lower level employee has input on how the line should operate. TPS really comes from the top down and I know Nick and I have both felt that it misses the mark in a lot of ways. It was really refreshing to see Barnes making revisions to that system based on their value for employees, of which something like 75% has worked there for more than 8 years.

(Genco Hershey lobby display)

Our final stop of the day was at Genco Hershey which is a regional distribution center for Hershey’s! You better believe we had our fair share of candy during that presentation. It was really quite baffling how much chocolate they have in that facility. I’m totally going to misquote this but I think it was something like 40 million tons when they are at full capacity. Ummm…what?? Even if that number is wrong, which I’m sorry I really should have written it down but I was too busy eating my Mr Goodbar, just know that it’s really a freaking lot of candy and this isn’t even the main center. Another fun fact for you: FedEx just bought out Genco and this distribution center will soon be FedEx Hershey. Here’s hoping that means every Amazon delivery comes with a treat?!

I missed out on the tour of their facility but I can imagine what it looks like inside. Places that deal with shipping and logistics are incredible. Have you ever been in the warehouse for a UPS station? It’s totally like the doors retrieval system you see on Monsters Inc. Logistics like that is something I would love, love, love to learn and work with hands on. Nerd alert.

Okay, so remember how I said the day was about how private businesses, local government and third party managers all play a role in the economic development of our area? Here’s the micro thesis statement that I’ll offer up in conclusion ;)

I very much value the driving force of economic development on a governmental level; the government has the power and ability to create the climate necessary for growth. How? Roads, electrical, general infrastructure – as well as education programs that are conducive to training the workforce necessary to woo new businesses and sectors into the area. Private businesses are important because you want to have companies that can pay their employees well, value education opportunities and want to give-back to the community they work in. Third party managers like the Boyer Group property management team are of equal importance because they develop and maintain the properties necessary for bringing in big (and small) businesses, especially for clients who aren’t interested in owning a building or a property.

Of course, this education day wasn’t my first glimpse into the world of economic development. This is my industry (and also my hobby I suppose). So if I’ve skipped over a relevant point or you have any questions -or want to get connected with any of these folks or previous LNU topics – please, please, please feel free to reach out via email thefamilypracticeblog[@]gmail or in the comments section below.

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LNU Education Day (3)

Yesterday I spent another day devoted to learning more about this little community of ours. Our LNU crew started the day at the Chamber offices to rehash where we have been and discuss our project a bit more. As you may remember, we have monthly education days through June and though a big portion of the program is geared towards learning about the resources, needs and programs in the community there is also a big emphasis on completely a group project before graduation day.

We finally settled on the entity we’d like to support but we still have some details to bang out regarding the “what” and the “how”. We have some more research to do before we can effectively answer those questions.

So back to the education day…

Our first visit was with Catholic Community Services

Quick facts: Distributes an average of 200,000 pounds of food each month to about 2,300 households, a total of about 6,500 people each month. Participants must be at 150% of the federal poverty level, or below, to utilize services. CCS is the nonprofit arm of the Catholic Church but there is no religious affiliation or promotion, i.e.: you don’t have to hear a sermon or receive a pamphlet to get services. Additional programs include a weekend bridge program for children/families that receive free lunch; they get a bag of healthy food to carry them through the weekend as well, and the Baby Layette program that provides low-income mothers with an incredible new baby care package. Those blankets you see? All hand made. Think of what that means to someone alone and with a new baby at a hospital. CCS also provides cooking classes to help their clients better utilize what they are given and learn how to prepare healthy, affordable meal options. That might be my favorite part.

(new baby welcome package)

(handmade blankets)

Next up was St. Anne’s Soup Kitchen and Homeless Shelter

Quick facts: Residency program allows people to stay up to 90 days, requires drug/alcohol screening every night at check in. Capped at 65 men, a smaller number of women. The home houses more than 150 people a night on average – meaning several people don’t get a bed and are sleeping on the floor – whether they’ve failed the alcohol policies or are simply overflow from what the residency can accommodate. No one is turned away from sleeping inside the building (with exception to those that have been violent, abusive of the staff, etc).

(men’s shelter residency dorm)

(“family rooms” at the shelter – there could be two to three families staying in this space)

There are countless issues and scenarios that come up on a regular basis and require shuffling of the population to meet all the Federal and State (and private funding requirements). For instance a transgender, adult-age sibling caring for a male youth-age sibling as a parent should – transgender male-to-female can’t stay on a females only dorm floor, except that’s where families go and this is now considered a guardianship and so becomes a family – where do they belong in a male/female divided program? Or people who have the flu or something and need to be kept separate. Drunk tank type accommodations and so, so, so much more. Providing addresses for people as they try to get jobs and break this cycle. It’s a tangled web indeed.

We also toured the new St. Anne’s AKA Lantern House which is a few blocks up the street and will be opening in the spring.

(the new Lantern House, under construction)

We took a quick lunch break to chat and warm up a bit before we hit Historic 25th Street for a scavenger hunt intended to highlight some of the business owners and gems in downtown. The scavenger hunt led us several places, including Peery’s Egyptian Theater and the brand new offices for the GOAL Foundation.

(the ceiling at Peery’s)

(GOAL Foundation offices)

Quick facts, Peery’s: Built in 1924, Peery’s Egyptian Theater features live performances as well as movie screenings throughout the year. It is the home of Ogden’s Sundance venue as well as the BANFF Mountain Film Festival each February. Personally, my favorite events are the Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Nutcracker, both of which I was able to attend this year.

Quick facts, GOAL: I’ve featured or mentioned GOAL on this blog several times in the past. The acronym stands for Get Out And Live, and this nonprofit revolves around providing world class athletic events to the greater Ogden community – encouraging both healthy lifestyle for our general population while also developing and maintaining pride in our natural resources – the trails, mountains, river, etc.

The Why

In all of this, I keep asking myself or more so reminding myself the point. I woke up grumpy about the education day and really dreading being out in the cold for a big chunk of the day and the possibility of eating lunch at a homeless shelter. I just wasn’t in the mood I guess.

And that makes me laugh. Or maybe laugh isn’t the right word, but it’s all a bit ridiculous for me to say “I don’t feel like it.” I really doubt the people living out in the cold of our harsh winters, feel like it. Or that they feel like standing line an hour and half to get a meal they’ll need to eat in less than ten minutes so the next group can come through before the time is up. Or that the moms bringing their children to live in shelter, hoping they get a spot and aren’t sleeping on the lobby floor really feel like explaining to their kids why they didn’t get a bed this time around. Or that the kids riding the school bus the earliest in the morning and the latest at night, being dropped off blocks from the shelter so no one at school knows they’ve lost a home really feel like waking up that early or riding the bus throughout town watching all the other kids get dropped off at their warm and welcoming homes.

I don’t feel like it is a pretty pathetic way to feel about this life of darn near luxury I live by comparison. I left LNU day with a renewed sense of gratitude, and purpose and a “yes, I will feel like it,” whether I really do or not.

Question of the day: What’s something you can be grateful for that you maybe take for granted on a regular basis?

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Gift Local Christmas Boxes


As promised, I waited to post the contents of the Gift Local Christmas Boxes until after Christmas. Whether you gave, received or sat on the sidelines to see – here’s the skinny on everything inside!

The three gift-box themes are: The Naturalist (shown above), Land-Locked Sea Lovers (blue), and Heart Warmers (red).

The Naturalist

Hippie Luxe and Hippie Honey by Hippie Skin

Soap Tips by Lanmom Originals

Watercolor Postcard of Snowbasin by local artist Erin at Blooming Lotus Imports on Historic 25th

 

Land-Locked Sea Lovers

Sea Glass Hair Pin by Our Children’s Earth

Hemp and Scrap Cuff Bracelet by Pops is a Pirate

Essential Oil Lip Balm Kit by Pops is a Pirate

Soy Candle by Candles by Devry

Heart Warmers

Whole Bean Coffee “A Lot Like Christmas” Blend by Mason Jar Coffee Roasters

“Spread Love” Jam by Amour Spreads

Soy Candle by Candles by Devry

Soup Mix by Vivian’s Live Again

 

The story behind the boxes…

When I first started the Eat Local Challenge in 2013 people asked if I would continue it beyond the four weeks, make it year-round, etc. While I loved that people were that excited about the program and the goodies they were receiving, I wasn’t sure I could handle doing something that big…yet.

I had wanted to do this Christmas idea last year but it just wasn’t realistic. I was still working a “real” job and the hours it takes to drive around and gather everything and the turn around time to organize it into the individual shares and be ready for pick ups is all a bit of a rush. Now that I am my own boss and have two years of Eat Local under my belt, I feel a lot more capable.

I picked three themes and curated items based on what I loved and also what had done best at both the Oasis Summer Nights mini market and in the Eat Local Challenge (participants completed a survey and rated each item).

I didn’t really advertise the gift boxes – one email to the Eat Local Challenge participants and a few posts on Facebook – and I was surprised how quickly they sold. I include that in my story just to say that it is so exciting to see people “getting it.”

Every item in each of the boxes is a personal treasure to me. I fell in love with Mason Jar’s packaging this summer for Eat Local and I was so excited when I saw their “A Lot Like Christmas” blend – I asked Thomas to whip up some of these tiny bags for me (their coffee is usually sold in…surprise…mason jars!) and he text me back a photo of him already making the cute little bags. I also fell in love with Jamie of Pops is a Pirate this summer with her incredible booth at both the Oasis Summer Nights mini market and the larger Ogden Farmer’s Market. The wrist cuffs and lip balm kits are adorable from start to finish – the seashells and sparkles that sprinkle out of the burlap bags as you open up your treasure, the birch bark tag with how-to info, all of it.

Hippie Skin is the line I switched to sometime this summer – July? – and I’ve never looked back. I had already transitioned to all-natural but it was the Hippie Luxe that really cleared up my complexion and kept my skin moisturized. The Hippie Honey I just barely added to my regimen, right after Thanksgiving, and I have received more compliments on my skin in the last four/five weeks than possibly my whole life combined. It’s wonderful. I now use the Honey to cleanse and the Luxe to moisturize. PS, Luxe also makes for a perfect foundation base in lieu of the chemical laden silicone variety.

Needless to say, I hope you enjoy everything you received in your Gift Local box. I’m honestly a bit bummed I didn’t keep a box or two for myself, they were just so dang cute!

Merry Christmas :)

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LNU Education Day (2)

I spent the day with my LNU crew today exploring community issues in Weber County, primarily centered around homelessness.

We had time to sit together as a group and discuss some general concepts of leadership and catch up with one another before venturing out on our tour for the day. We met with the Weber County Commissioner, paid a visit to the Homeless Veterans Fellowship, toured the Christmas Box House (hey, I was just there!), toured the Enable Industries production facility, met with the Children’s Justice Center, and ended with a presentation from a collective of civilians working in a trifecta between the LGBT outreach center, state legislature and fundraising team operating on a grant from the local newspaper.

Without going into a long explanation for each organization, we faced the issue of homelessness from all ages, all reasons and all types of community response mechanisms. The reality is unfathomable – children kicked out of their homes for sexual preference or sheer unwant, children removed from their homes for drugs or sexual abuse, homeless vets who can’t hold down a job or fund their own livelihood. We learned about the process for child abuse case management and protective services. We learned about the foster system and the holes in the shelter systems. We learned about how homeless teens have been criminalized by the State of Utah until just earlier this year, a serious “flaw in the system.”

Enable Industries was the only outlier to the homeless issue – they offer training and jobs for adults with special needs, people who were at one point considered useless to society, or seen as a drag on the tax system.

(one of the production lines at Enable Industries)

That was an especially moving segment for me. There is so much I want to share but my brain is abuzz. It will take me days to unwind all the lines streaming through my brain right now.

I came home and dumped it all on Nick. I feel this incredible sense of duty to make sure these stories are told. That we need to be stewards of this opportunity we have been given and share the experience and lessons with as many people as are willing to hear. Above anything else so far, today I have felt a call to action in sharing these missions, all of them.

I left this morning worried about an ad-buy deadline and two story submissions; about holiday shopping information and getting it out to the public on time; about registering my LLC and hiring an administrative person to help with the details that have become overwhelming.

It all seems silly doesn’t it? And I have a new set of issues spinning in my brain tonight.

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This Way Not That Way

I have been toying with the idea of getting an actual office for a while now, for a couple of reasons. One, it would be nice to have a distinct separation between my work life and my home life (shutting off my brain when I can still see the piles of work to tackle just doesn’t work) and two, I would love to have people come to ME for meetings. Right now, I either go to someone’s office or people will meet me at a coffee shop. It was OK in the beginning but I’ve grown beyond that stage and I want a place that’s MINE.

My only worry was that having an office would give people the impression I wasn’t as available to them. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Working at the coffee shop, people can walk in, ask me questions, random people try to talk to me, friends pop in from time to time and there’s a whole boat load of other distractions. I want to go this way and not the multitude of directions I am being pulled in. This way, not that way.

This week has been DISTRACTION CITY so I am really excited that I have only one meeting today and afterwards I plan on shutting myself away from the world (in my home office for the time being) to bust through my to-do list – without working in a public place where people can just add to that to-do list or pull my mind elsewhere. Today’s to-do list is actually a few pages long but really, it should just look like this:

(I love these stickers and posters from Startup Vitamins)

I’m also excited to get through my to-do list because Nick flies in tonight and I want to have my tasks over and my mind free to have fun this weekend. He’s been in Ohio all week and I’m looking forward to having him home again J

Question of the day: What’s on your to-do list for today?