Earlier today we visited ADCAM in Manaus. Manaus is the 4th major economic zone in Brazil after Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. The factories of major companies Suzuki, Sony, and Nokia are driving the growth of Manaus. Favorable tax rates have attracted many companies to this region over the last 30 years. As companies set up their factories, the opportunity for labor positions surfaced. Many people from the surrounding regions migrated to Manaus in hopes for a job. However, they faced very difficult circumstances. Many of them didn’t get hired due to lack of experience or qualification. Those who did get jobs did not earn enough income to provide basic necessities to their families.

Non-profit organizations started springing up in Manaus to help support these workers and their families. One such organization is ADCAM. Since its inception in 1984, ADCAM has grown from a small daycare to an education entity. Spanning a high school, a college, and a vocational institute, the organization is providing education services to over 5,000 students every day. We had a chance to spend an entire day at ADCAM in Manaus. We spent time with some students, some of the teachers, and the founder. Many of the students had started working as early as 14 years of age, the legal age in Brazil. They receive vocational training at ADCAM which then can be used when they pursue their career.

One of the questions I had during this trip was to understand how the boom in industries over the last 30 years is affecting the environment thus, and the impact in the future. While both the teachers and founder acknowledged the challenge, I felt they did not provide a clear answer about how their program will specifically address this challenge. They also mentioned that they will start environmental training courses soon.

Over the last 30 years, ADCAM has responded to the needs of the Manaus community and growing number of factories. I am confident they will continue to evolve, preparing the next generation to answer the environment challenges I had hoped to gain insight into.

The future of Amazon might not be decided by board rooms in New York or London. Rather, if organizations like ADCAM expand, the future of Amazon may be determined in the classrooms in Manaus and other areas.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

Education has always been one of the primary methods of empowering individuals to improve their conditions in life. The United Nations even list it as part of their Millennium Development Goals, aiming to provide universal education by 2015.

Brazil, a rapidly developing country, unfortunately falls short when faced with issues in educational disparities. It’s aiming to provide public and private education for all citizens, yet there is still a large gap between the privileged and the poor. Public schools especially are unable to provide adequate education and ensuring a student’s future with college acceptances. Instead, it is only through more expensive private schools that most Brazilian children can hope to attend a fully funded university. I was shocked to hear that only private school, which costs more than some families can afford, are essentially the only way that students would achieve the test scores necessary to get into higher education programs. Public schools just aren’t good enough.

Community in Action (Comunidade em Ação) is a non-profit organization located in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most dangerous favelas, Complexo do Alemão, and aims to partner with local programs to empower its residents by embracing a better life. As part of the Jolkona team visiting South America, it was a wonderful opportunity to visit a non-profit working in the field. While visiting Community in Action, it was easy to see how motivated their founder, Zak Paster, and his team of dedicated volunteers were to improving conditions in the favelas. We also observed some of their current partners, many of them working to improve education opportunities for the children of the favelas.

One of the most inspiring visits was to Centro Educacional Leandro, a school in the favela run by Marcia and Marcelo and an organization that Community in Action is partnered with. Not only does this organization provide private-school education for less, but it also empowers children to help others. Marcia and Marcelo’s passion bleeds through everything they do. For the last twenty years, they have provided integral services to kids in need because of a desire to help their community. During the holiday time, Centro Educacional Leandro spearheaded a food drive, where their underprivileged students went door to door in the favela and received kilos of food from other needy families. It was inspiring to see young people help each other and want to make the community a better place, even during tough times.

Community in Action helps organizations like this one become better equipped to help empower the local community. The students at Centro Educacional Leandro had tiny, cramped schoolrooms and a stuffy computer lab. As an American growing up in the American education system, it is easy to forget how many more resources I had access to that these students do not. With Community in Action’s support, they can provide a much larger facility for students to learn the computer skills necessary to survive in today’s global economy.

Watching Community in Action was a unique opportunity to see a grassroots non-profit organization affect real change. Their strong relationship with the local community means they will continue to do good work for years to come.

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.

“OK Gabriel,” I say to myself, “Don’t make a fool of yourself now. Just take it easy, alright?” I’m waiting to interview Bill the Butcher CEO, J’Amy Owens. For some reason – or perhaps good reason – I’m as nervous as hell. She is, after all, one of the most successful business women in the whole of America. We’re sitting in the apartment below hers on Queen Anne Hill, waiting to go up. Things are running a little behind schedule; she’s taking a conference call. Of course she is -  she’s a CEO. We pass the time talking meat and quality cows, but really I’m worried about how much of a bumbling buffoon I’ll end up being.

It’s time.

“OK, mate, just pretend she’s any other person.”

We enter a gorgeous apartment and I shuffle through to the living room like a nervous school kid. Down the stairs comes J’Amy. She greets us with great charm and aplomb. I think I hold it together for about 12 seconds, and then the Brit in me escapes: I’m thanking her effusively for her kindness, for taking the time to see us, for anything I can think of. If I could apologize for something, I probably would. She offers us a glass of water. Foolishly I decline (my throat will be as parched as the Moroccan desert by the time we’re finished).  Again, that’s the Brit in me; I’m quite certain it would be rude to accept, or that it would cause her far too much trouble.

We sit down to begin. All the other interviews I previously did for this series lasted a few minutes, tops. This lasts twenty five. As an interviewee, J’Amy is incredibly engaged – and engaging. I quickly realize she is in no way just trying to get this over with. Indeed, her answers are full, expansive, and remarkably illuminating. I admit it, I’m quite spellbound. OK so she’s been in marketing and retail all her life, but it’s more than just a way with words; it’s a conviction. I learn this early on when she talks of her childhood on her family’s farm in North Dakota. She grew up surrounded by livestock. We start off with a few light-hearted get-to-know-you questions, but, as you’ll see, by the time we get to hobbies, things get serious. And this is a serious matter. It’s the future of our food system.

J’Amy what’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off in the morning?
Ugh, I curse. I tend to stay up very late. I like to work long into the night. The alarm goes off usually because New York starts to call. They can’t help themselves.

And how do you take your coffee?
Always made in a French Press, Starbucks extra bold French Roast. I make it black as tar. I put a little organic half and half in, and then I fundamentally try and get my whole body into the cup!

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Black because I like to make one mark and I like it to be indelible; I like everyone to see it. And I like it to make the difference, and I like it to be the outline.

Summer or Winter?
Depends on where I am. If there’s only one season to choose, though, it has to be summer because I’m the original Barefoot Contessa.

Do you have any major hobbies?
I’m obsessed with figuring out how to take the pain I can see in life and create antidotes for it in business. And it’s my driving passion and need. Right now, I see a real pain in the small farmers and ranchers that have been excluded from working in big agribusiness, and I’ve watched them make less and less money each year. I’ve watched it my whole life, and it’s wrong. We need those farmers; we need them as stewards to the land. Without them doing that and raising animals for us locally, we’re toast as humans.

What’s your personal story in becoming involved with Bill the Butcher?
I’ve worked retail for about 30 years. I’ve developed 400 retail businesses in America, they’re in about 20,000 locations now. I was in the coffee business for a very long time. And when I heard the term “grass fed beef” in 2006, I knew in my knower that it was going to be like coffee – that meat would have a renaissance and revolution which would make it grow up and be as complex and as compelling as coffee. Because remember, in 1989 coffee was Fulgers in a can in a grocery store. And now it’s an $80 billion industry. So having had that as being a big part of my own journey, I knew when I heard this term that it was going to happen for me. And I thought, “I bet I could influence that.” So in 2006 I wrote the business plan for Bill the Butcher, and have endeavored to make it go ever since.

How does this compare to your previous work experience?
It’s quite similar in that both coffee and meat are commodities – they’re consumables; people use them every day. People buy them every day. People buy different qualities and quantities every day. And what we’re doing with meat is a lot like what happened to coffee. There was a new language of coffee introduced to consumers. What’s a latte? What’s a cappuccino? What type of bean is it? Where do they come from? How are they roasted? It turns out the same is true for meat: do you want a Shorthorn Brahman raised in open range in Nevada that was finished on clover or legumes? That is a different kind of flavor profile than a Belted Galloway that comes from the Prairie grasslands in central Illinois. And once you experience them side by each, and you can tell the difference, you will have a preference. And that preference will drive your behavior. But us American consumers have been Angus-ed to death by the grocery store. And we’re made to think that all meat is equal, or that it’s Prime, Choice, or Select, which really means nothing.

Could you tell us about how Bill the Butcher has simultaneously built “the world’s shortest supply chain” and a created new market place for meat?
We go the shortest distance to get enough meat to sell. So if we can get it from Washington, we do. If we have to get it from Montana, Idaho, OK. But why put a cow on a box cart and send it from Whatcom County to a feed lot and then have it slaughtered somewhere else, to then have it come back on a truck in a box? It adds layers of cost and carbon footprint. So our idea is creating the world’s shortest supply chain by knitting together small farms and ranchers that really cannot sell to grocery stores, because they’re too small. The big conglomerates don’t give them the time of day. Our market place, then, is above the farmer’s market and below the grocery stores. So we’ve created a new supply and we’ve created a new market at the same time. And I think that’s what people will talk about when they write about this business. Yes, we brought back the neighborhood butcher shop, and isn’t that groovy and cool. But behind that, the thing that really makes it work, is the distribution and the idea of how to coalesce a new supply chain.

What are your thoughts on Jolkona’s Eat Local, Give Global campaign and its partnership with the Bill the Butcher stores?
Well I’m horrified, as I’m sure we all are, by what I watch and read on the news. There is an inequality in how food is distributed around the planet, as well as an inequality in where food is grown. And you’re addressing that in places where there is perhaps the most need, and I truly have such respect for you. We’re doing this on a local scale; you’re doing it on a global scale. In many ways, though, our philosophies are a dead match.

Local food, sustainable farming, grass fed beef: these have been dubbed as “megatrends.” Are these indeed just megatrends, or is there more to it than that this, is there more meat on the bone, as it were?
Well I’ll say this: it’s much better to be a trend than a fad. The truth is that when 46 million people are doing it at once, it’s a megatrend. You see the organic food market has grown 100% in volume year after year for the past 20 years. And it is the only food sector in the business that is growing. The rest of them are flat. So that’s a big indication that more people are leaning in this direction. And listen, the barometer is Walmart: when Walmart was forced to put in an organic food section, that said to me, “OK, we’re really at the tipping point here.” Because they serve a customer base that is considered low income, but the demand for organic milk was unprecedented; they couldn’t stem the tide. Of course, our desire is for these trends to become normality, but all things that become “standard” start out as the “irreverent upstart.”

OK, so if you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
Depends from which animal! I think I would be the hanging tender on a cow. It is a very rare piece of meat and it connects all the other important pieces of meat on the animal.

If I gave you a herd of cattle, where would you hide it?
I’d hide it in plain sight on our family’s farm in North Dakota.

3 words to describe natural grass fed beef:
Vital. Delicious. Required.

The Eat Local, Give Global campaign is all about raising money to empower and educate women farmers in Sudan with sustainable farming techniques. We’re running the campaign in partnership with Bill the Butcher and its six shops in and around Seattle. Donate online, or go directly to your local shop, meet the friendly butchers themselves, and donate there.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.


Note from the editor: this post was written from South America by stalwart Jolkona volunteer, Pavan Potaraju.

Background of Favelas

In 1970’s, there were around 300 favelas in Rio. That number had increased by 25% in 2010. The favelas were home to drug dealers, mainly handling Marijuana and Cocaine. Shootouts between traffickers and police resulted in murder rates in excess of 40 per 100,000 residents. Through their presence, actions, and political connections, the traffickers engendered an atmosphere of dependence, promising “protection” and ensuring that the critical segments of the local population would remain “safe”, despite continuing high levels of violence. Previously, it had been impossible for any tourist or a local not living in the favelas to enter without the help from a favela resident.


About 2 years ago, the government introduced the pacification project. This was aimed at cleansing the favelas and liberating hundreds of residents. By the end of 2011, authorities say 59 favelas will have benefited from the fledgling pacification units, freeing an estimated 210,000 people from the rule of Rio’s gangs. This could be a direct result of the soccer world cup and Olympics coming to Brazil in the next 5 years.

NGOs Emerging

With community conditions improving in the favelas, multiple NGOs have come to the area to provide further respite. One such NGO is Community in Action, founded by Zak Pastor. It is located in the largest favela communities: Complexo do Alemão.

On the Road

As part of visiting some of our partners in Latin America, our first stop was at Rio de Janeiro. We met with the founder of the Community in Action, Zak Pastor. Zak took us to the headquarters of Community in Action in Complexo do Alemão. The favela was completely taken over by the police; their presence visible in the streets. We visited a school, sports complex and another NGO in the area which works with Community in Action. The main focus here was to help residents work toward personal growth and transition from abject poverty to employment.  Specifically, they provide cultural and vocational classes to facilitate this transition. They also have a volunteer programs for those who want to work and live in Rio.

How you can help

I never imagined visiting a favela would be possible. Now having been there, I understand how critical a role organizations such as Community in Action play in transforming these areas. Every donation goes a long way in helping the residents transition from abject poverty to employment. Donations can be made at

Want more on the South America trip? Adnan Mahmud and Nancy Xu are also blogging about their experiences with the team. Follow Adnan here. Follow Nancy here. Keep up to date with us also on Facebook.




A few Thursdays back was the Jolkona Foundation’s holiday party held at one of our wonderful boardmember’s home. It was great to catch up with the other volunteers, but I was most captivated by all the vitality and energy in the room. Everyone there was excited to be part of Jolkona and its numerous accomplishments over the past year. Many of these achievements can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of young people wanting to make a difference.

As a member of the NextGen team, which focuses on engaging youth under 25 in philanthropy, I love seeing the energy and commitment that young people bring to giving. The holidays especially inspire people to make the world a better place. I know that I always feel more motivated during this time of year to donate my time and resources towards those less fortunate. This season is all about feeling thankful for what you have and recognizing that others may not be so fortunate.

During this holiday season, I will use my small change to bring awareness to a cause I feel passionate about: the NextGen team is excited to help prepare kids in the United States to become employable adults as part of Jolkona’s 12 Days of Giving campaign! This organization has helped thousands of children from all over the US learn the life skills necessary to have professional careers and become more civic-minded through the medium of soccer. I am excited to support a non-profit that inspires the next generation of youth philanthropists. These kids want to make a difference, and with everyone’s support, we can help them reach their goals!

Make a difference here.




If Bill the Butcher ever had to change its name, I could only think of one replacement that would be equally suitable and catchy: Barry the Butcher. Well, that’s who we meet today – Barry Mang, head butcher at the shop over in Magnolia. Tall, friendly, and self-effacing, Barry talks with a certain gathered concentration in his voice. He chooses his words carefully; he stares out the window when I ask him a question, and then as if pulling the answer right out of the blue sky, he returns it with a twinkle in his eye. It was a pleasure meeting Barry; he’s professional without having to show off, and he’s passionate without having to talk the hind legs off a cow. Here are some snippets of our interview:

Barry, where were you born?
Encino, California

And where are you living right now?
Queen Anne Hill, Seattle

What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?
Cancun, Mexico.

Do you have any major hobbies?
Fly fishing, wood working, skiing, cycling.

What’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off?
I don’t set an alarm. Such are the pleasures of opening at noon.

How do you take your coffee?
Double short Americano with cream.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Oxblood red.

Summer or Winter?

What led you to becoming a butcher?
I was a chef for many years and the opportunity to try something different presented itself.

What’s the best thing about being a butcher?
Assisting our clientele in creating memorable meals for friends and family.

Which cut of meat should people know more about?
All of them!

Are you or have you ever been a vegetarian?
Yes, but it was brief.

How do you see your role in sustainable farming?
Education and facilitation. We create a pipeline for local farmers and an outlet for concerned consumers.

What are your thoughts on the Eat Local, Give Global campaign?
A good idea.

Why is your shop better than the other Bill the Butcher shops in Seattle?
We all do our best to shine in our respective neighborhoods. I must admit, my Marquee has drawn more attention for its witty content [see picture above].

Which Bill the Butcher shop is going to come in last in the Great Meat Race?
We all win with the drive to give charitably.

Do you have any good party tricks?

And finally, 3 words to describe natural grass fed beef:
occupy the pasture.

The Eat Local, Give Global campaign is all about raising money to empower and educate women farmers in Sudan with sustainable farming techniques. We’re running the campaign in partnership with Bill the Butcher and its six shops in and around Seattle. Donate online, or go directly to your local shop, meet the friendly butchers themselves, and donate there.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

Remember: each store is in competition with the others to raise the most money. This is called the Great Meat Race. If you want the Magnolia shop to win, donate to the campaign here and join its community.


The voice of literature in culture

Like many other people I’m sure, one of my very favorite books of all time is J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I consider it truly brilliant, and it has had a remarkable influence on me. When Salinger died in January of 2010, the tributes lauding his talent flooded the media. One phrase I recall reading by several different writers was that Salinger “defined a generation.” (You could argue he defined two). Such praise is deservedly lofty and not handed out on a whim. But what does this have to do with Machik’s Women’s Writing Program? A lot.

And here’s why: giving a voice through literature is – and has been for a very long time – an integral part of what we understand as “culture.” Deeper than that, the voice of literature within culture is inextricably conjoined with identity, whether it be on a wide or personal scale, which is precisely why we say of writers, ‘he/she defined a generation.’ We say it because we identify with that particular literary voice; it’s as if the voice is speaking for us. We perhaps take this truth for granted, but when you stop to consider it, you can truly appreciate how invaluable those voices are to us, how much they have shaped the narrative of not only our own lives but that of an entire country. This, then, is what Machik’s Women’s Writing Program in Tibet is going some way to achieve for the culture and identity of Tibetans.

Two historic Tibetan publications

In 2004, under the auspices of Professor Palmo Tso, Machik sponsored the development of two historic publications: the first ever anthology of Tibetan women’s writing, and the first print newsmagazine on Tibetan women’s affairs, The Land of Snow Tibetan Women’s Journal. Yes, these are the first ever of their kind for women’s literature in Tibet. Just think of the myriad anthologies of British and American women’s literature in comparison. Then think how rich Tibetan language and culture is, and how powerful a component women’s voices must be (or should be) within that. And yet this surface has only just begun to be scratched.

Breaking the shackles of marginalization

Ultimately, though, beyond culture and identity, giving Tibetan women a recognized voice through literature is about empowerment; empowerment against gender inequality. Women’s literacy rate in Tibet, for example, is that of approximately one third compared to men’s. And in a country where voices are largely marginalized, women’s especially, it becomes abundantly clear the scale of the struggle Tibetan women face. In the light of such facts, Machik’s Women’s Writing Program, and the projects it has brought to fruition, become all the more extraordinary. Not only that, they become all the more critical. This is why we as the Intern Team here at Jolkona have chosen to support this project for the 12 Days of Giving Campaign. Here’s our very bookish campaign video:

Give Tibetan Woman a voice

We’re asking for donations starting at $5 in order to support the publication of twelve stories or essays by Tibetan women in the tri-annual Snowland Tibetan Women’s Journal, which is produced both in print and digitally. $40 covers the publishing costs of one story or essay. By donating you contribute to the improvement of women’s literacy and education, whilst helping give Tibetan women a conduit to greater empowerment and gender equality. In this way, you assist in shaping the narrative of not only the personal lives of the Tibetan women, but also the very narrative of Tibet as a whole. That is no small privilege.

So if you care about gender equality, if you love to read, or if you’ve ever read a book by a woman and enjoyed it, then give here via our campaign page.

Give Tibetan woman a voice – through literature.



Earlier in the series, we featured Tim McMullen: Bill the Butcher’s Director of Operations. When we met with him at the commissary, Michael LaRoche sat to his left. Being Director of Purchasing, he is a hard-working man with an easygoing vibe. You pick up on it after talking with him for awhile. He takes his coffee black and unlimited, dabbles in music playing, sketching, reading literature, and cooks – of course he would! He is originally from Boston, and has adventured across the earth’s oceans to Amsterdam. Michael gave us plenty to laugh about during his interview. Check out what he has to say on life, giving, sustainability, and meat:

What are your thoughts on Jolkona’s Eat Local, Give Global campaign and its partnership with the Bill the Butcher shops?
It’s a very worthwhile endeavor. It’s getting people to be part of a growing community that wants to close in their food sources, to get to know it better, and to expand that to people in such challenged regions as Sudan. It gives them help in getting their food chain up and growing. The way we have it set up here, you see, is that big chains come in and control your food supply when it could be done locally.

Jolkona is a nonprofit which is centered around simplicity and visibility. How do you think Bill the Butcher fits in with such principles?
We’re certainly trying to be very visible. Simple – well, we are actually quite a complex system, while our idea is simple.

Local food, sustainable farming, grass fed beef: these have been dubbed as “megatrends.” Are these indeed just megatrends, or is there more to it than that this, is there more meat on the bone, as it were?
Corn-fed beef was the megatrend for the last 40 years. Before that it was grass-fed beef – as it was for 400 years. Or are we just back to what it used to be?

I read that Bill the Butcher shops are the “new marketplace” between farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Could you explain more about this?
Farmers used to have two options: sell their meat to the big conglomerates at a vast loss, or go sell that meat at the farmer’s markets. The first offers very little profit; the second is very time consuming. So we buy directly from the farmers at a fair price and sell it straight out of our shop.

With Bill the Butcher you’ve built “the world’s shortest supply chain.” Could explain more about this for our readers?
So for instance, take the Nelson family, I talk to Mr Nelson, and I say we need x amount of cattle and they have they x amount ready, that’s slaughtered on their farm by a mobile processor, and then we take the whole animal and sell it to you. Minimal middlemen. So now it doesn’t have to travel half way up the country to be slaughtered in one place, and then shipped – goodness knows where – to be sold  in another place.

Bill the Butcher has a very broad consumer appeal, why do you think this is?
People are starting to realize they have no idea where their food comes from. Eating is what you do three or four times a day. People want to start learning where it comes from and not that it just came from the frozen food section in the supermarket.

Which cut of meat do you think people should know more about?
Beef cheeks.

If you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
A round because I’m kind of an ass.

Empower women farmers in Sudan with farming education and sustainability efforts. Join our Eat Local, Give Global campaign! Bill the Butcher and Jolkona are the dream team making headway on this exciting project. Access the donation page online or stop at any of the shops to learn more and hold your own “interview” with the butchers!
Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

I first met Melinda through one of our other volunteers back in 2009 when Jolkona was still being run out of my kitchen. Melinda loved what Jolkona stood for and immediately started off volunteering on a few projects, and then quickly jumped into joining the leadership team as the Director of Events. During her time in that role, she was in charge of overseeing a brilliantly successful Microsoft Giving Campaign, played a key part in the structure and direction of Jolkona as an early decision maker on our leadership team, and helped coordinate some of our partnered events that year. She then joined the communications team as our Marketing Communications Content Manager where she employed her laser sharp editing skills to help with content creation and marketing. This year she has mainly been working on a project to help our website tell the stories of our partners better, and we are excited to start intrdoucing updates in the next few months that she herself spearheaded. Melinda recently relocated to DC so we’re sad we don’t get to have her physical presence around as much; however, she is still a strong part of the Jolkona team and community and continues to volunteer remotely on several marketing and content projects for us.

Melinda also played a major role in some of our partnerships with Waggener Edstrom, including our pro bono ideation session and two matching campaigns. What I personally love about Melinda is her passion for making a difference, her organization skills, and her irresistibly charming and light-hearted personality.

Here’s what a few of our volunteers had to say about their time working with her:

“Melinda is a tremendous asset to the Jolkona team. She stepped up and took the role of Director of Events in 2010 and provided invaluable direction to the team. She always encourages new ideas. She is very meticulous and organized. It is a delightful to work with Melinda on any project – she just knows how to get the job done perfectly and on time. To sum it up, if I had to make a list of people I would like to work with on a project, Melinda would definitely be on that list!” – Pavan

“Melinda is one of the most dedicated and kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. She pours her heart and soul into every project for Jolkona and loves to make a difference for her partners and the organization.”
– Aaron Alhadeff

“Working with Melinda is always incredible – she has an extraordinary knack for developing compelling stories that resonate with our donors and audiences and also is aware of how to work within the limited resources of a start-up NGO. She brings a wealth of information and experience to her volunteer work at Jolkona and we are lucky to have her as part of our team.” – Seema

Thank you Melinda for your passion, leadership, and contribution to Jolkona over the last few years.  Jolkona couldn’t be where we are today without you and we are honored to have your continued support and dedication to our cause. We hope you have gotten just as much out of volunteering with as you’ve given in.

Have you volunteered for a non-profit? Do you think you get more or less out of what you put in?

The shop door opens with the tinkle of a bell. The black and white checkered flooring welcomes me nostalgically. The scent is unmistakable, yet I can’t remember the last time I smelt it. Out from behind the counter, dressed in black with his apron suitably dirty, emerges the equally charming and industrious Daniel. We’re in the Bill the Butcher shop in Laurelhurst. The winter sun streams through the windows. I feel like I’ve stepped back half a century. It’s perhaps somewhat embarrassing to say, as I’m about to interview a butcher, that I can’t remember the last time I went into a butcher’s shop. But maybe that’s partly the point, part of Bill the Butcher’s mission. Indeed, it’s appropriate that I feel like I’ve stepped back in time because Bill the Butcher is precisely trying to revert things to how they were: local meat, minimal middlemen, on your plate. No fuss. It’s not about being old-school, but it is about education. Daniel kindly agrees to sit down with me and talk about this (and other things) for a short while.

Daniel, where were you born?
San Diego, California

And where are you living right now?
Seattle, Washington

What’s the furthest you’ve been from home?
New York City

What’s the first thing you do when your alarm goes off?
Wake up

How do you take your coffee?
2 raw sugars and cream

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Summer or Winter?

What lead you to becoming a butcher?

What’s the best thing about being a butcher?
The discounted meat!

Which cut of meat should people know more about?
Flap meat – it’s delicious!

Are you or have you ever been a vegetarian?
Yeah I tried it.

How do you see your role in sustainable farming?
I cut the meat and sell it….and I’m very good at it!

What are your thoughts on the Eat Local, Give Global campaign?
It’s a good cause, helping people who really need it. We should do it all year long!

Why is your shop better than the other Bill the Butcher shops in Seattle?
This is the only shop I work at.

Which Bill the Butcher shop is going to come in last in the Great Meat Race?
According to a recent e-mail, Redmond and Bellevue are in a dead heat.

If you were a cut of meat, which would you be?
Filet – it’s tender and super classy.

If you were a cow, which kind would you be?
Texas Longhorn

If you were a cow, would other cows want to be your friends?

Do you have any good party tricks?
(He goes to do something. A kid and his mother walk in) Err… perhaps not.

And finally, 3 words to describe natural, grass fed beef:
Very, very delicious.

Empower women farmers in Sudan with farming education, and sustainability efforts. Join our Eat Local, Give Global campaign. Bill the Butcher and Jolkona are the dream team making headway on this exciting project. Access the donation page online or stop at any of the shops to learn more and meet the butchers themselves in flesh and blood.

Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

Remember: each store is in competition with the others to raise the most money. This is called the Great Meat Race. If you want the Laurelhurst shop to win, donate to the campaign here and join its community.




Image credit: Flickr

Did December sneak up on you, too? We couldn’t be more excited that it has– it’s a time for hot cocoa, good company, holiday parties and (best of all) giving selflessly. The mood shifts. We’re suddenly connecting with the people we pass on the street, exchanging a smile or a gentle “hello.” I remember holiday shopping as a child, looking to my Mom for a dollar or two to drop in the Salvation Army bucket. Even today, hearing those bells ring, raises a certain sense of comfort in my heart. It’s no wonder, then, that 67% of us get excited for this time of year, and 77% of us are choosing to contribute to nonprofits. Personally, I feel fortunate to be able to combine the two. Will you?
12 Days of Giving starts today! It’s a daily dose of philanthropy for the holidays: 12 different Jolkona teams have dedicated themselves to sharing the love and raising awareness on a certain campaign that speaks to them. We give each team their spotlight for a day, and offer you a chance to make a difference by donating. It’s like our humanitarian holiday wish list and an amazing opportunity to transform someone’s life– someone you may pass by on the street some day.

We all have a dream, a message, or a truth to share with the world. I wish to inspire you to challenge the statistics of holiday spending: $44 million dollars are spent during the holiday season in America– PER HOUR. What percentage of that would you like to see spent bringing a smile to someone or positively impacting a community without the comfortable privileges we enjoy? There are 12 days, 12 campaigns, 12 teams who are sharing their stories with Jolkona. Our goals can be met with your help and support. Get to know each team and the projects that they are passionate about. If one resonates with you, donate! If it doesn’t, share it with someone who may. Drop by drop, your generous contribution– amount is up to you– will create the ripple effect for sustainable, revolutionary change.

Our first team is unwrapping a very special project. Help orphaned or vulnerable Bolivian children by providing them with psychologists and support their psychological growth. Their goal? 72 months of care for these kids. Check out their video below, and get more information about the project here:

Join us.

Stay connected on Facebook, follow our tweets (#12daysgive), or check the blog to unwrap the 12 gifts we are sharing with you over the next 12 days.
The impact you can make is limitless. Here are four ways you can personally generate change and inspire others:

Start a campaign
Donate to one of the 12 Days of Giving campaigns
Give a Jolkona gift card
Your business and Jolkona

Less money, more need

Since the financial crisis of 2008 and its enduring aftermath, nonprofits have had to wrestle with a trying dichotomy: people have less money to give, but the need for giving is ever greater. Statistics and examples of those statistics are ubiquitous: read Allegra Abramo’s recent post on current US poverty levels, or watch this sobering story from the BBC, reporting on the dramatic increase of people in the UK turning to foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their families. As if the statistics weren’t bad enough, the financial crisis also threatens to incapacitate those who have remained largely unaffected with an insidious weapon: fear. With erratic markets, stagnant house prices, and banks slapping on new charges to an already exhaustive list of customer fees, the reluctance to make financial commitments has perhaps never been greater.

photo credit: Catherine's photo stream on Flikr

The affects of the crisis on nonprofits and philanthropic giving

The statistics concerning the affects of the financial crisis on nonprofits and philanthropic giving are a mixed bag: some dire; some surprisingly optimistic. From as early as 2009 the Institute of Philanthropy reported severe financial losses for major Foundations in the US, whilst also documenting that over 1000 nonprofits in the UK – an unprecedented number – were forced to close within twelve months of the crisis beginning. Worryingly, as recent as this last September, more than a quarter million nonprofits in the US were set to lose their tax-exempt status as a result of them being out of commission. On the giving side of things, earlier this year Philanthropy UK reported that donations from the wealthiest philanthropists dropped by 33%, and that donations to larger nonprofits had dropped by 11%. These last two statistics seem to confirm that the atmosphere of fear surrounding financial commitments has also pervaded philanthropic giving: people with money – even plenty of it – are less willing to give. The fall of 11% also begs the question of whether donors are being turned off by larger nonprofits. Whereas once people might have been more carefree about philanthropic giving and thus comfortable with allowing their donations to end up in the general funds of the more visible and well known organizations, now donors, rightly so, want more control. They desire to know where their donation is going, how much is going where, and they deserve to see the impact their donation makes.

The Jolkona model and its next generation of philanthropists

What, then, of the cases of surprising optimism I mentioned? Enter Jolkona stage left. One of the many remarkable facts about Jolkona is that we were born in the very midst of the financial crisis, June 2009. And one part of Jolkona’s success is centered around the fact that we offer the opportunity to give online, an area of philanthropy that, although only accounts for 10% of giving compared to 90% offline giving (according to a survey carried out by Blackbauk), is showing remarkable popularity. And the other part of Jolkona’s success is that we understand that average donations are modest, which is why we encourage micro-donations. This, then, forms the back bone of our core value: to encourage and empower the next generation of philanthropists through our transparent micro-giving platform.

So if the wealthiest philanthropists of yesteryear are falling short of the mark, then the next generation of philanthropists are donating through Jolkona and are stepping up to the plate, every small donation – every drop of water – at a time. Read this blog post to get a taste of the accomplishments donors made through Jolkona in 2010.

6 ways to give through Jolkona

Here, then, are six great ways you can give through Jolkona:

1. Give to our current Eat Local, Give Global campaign partnered with Bill the Butcher shops.

2. Give to the i4Japan project. See also Kayleigh Maijala’s blog post for more details

3. Give to the up and coming 12 Days of Giving campiagn. More to follow soon! Here’s last year’s campaign page for a flavor.

4. Send a Jolkona Gift Card to your friends, family, or colleagues. You name the quantity, they name the project.

5. Dedicate a gift to someone. You make the donation, they get the proof.

6. Start your own campaign with Jolkona.

If you give, say, $10 to a Jolkona project, then $10, and not a penny less, will go to that project. Always.  What is more, you receive proof of the direct impact your donation has made. Jolkona, therefore, answers boldly to the financial crisis by eliminating distrust from philanthropic giving, and by showing you that your pockets don’t have to be deep to make a difference.



Part 4 of our Bill the Butcher interview series

Within the outskirts of downtown Seattle stands a modestly sized building. Just looking from the outside, you would never guess that one of Seattle’s most important local businesses operates there. We ventured into SoDo to shake hands with the brains behind the cattle, Tim McMullen. He appears as a soft-spoken, introspective man from Colombus, Ohio and loves reaching new heights when he rock climbs, or kayaks. Like many of us, he would prefer to hit “snooze” before pouring his coffee plain and black in the morning. He spends his time at Bill the Butcher juggling all types of victories, obstacles, and creative new ventures, while keeping the well-oiled machine turning. Here’s a glimpse into Tim’s psyche:

What are your thoughts on the Eat Local, Give Global campaign?

I think it’s an awesome partnership. It’s giving back to communities, education… helping a country that’s had such a terrible time in the past couple years, and helping them build a sustainable economy. It’s our motto.

I think eating local started as a trend. As the consumer learns about what they’re eating, how much healthier it is for them, and how much better it tastes the trend will become a norm. They will continue to buy what they like and what’s good for them.

What lead you to becoming a butcher?

I had a business back home; produce company, and a whole sale farm-direct produce in Charlotte, NC. I approached Bill the Butcher about joining them, and I was amazed with what they had done and their mission. The skillset was perfect for coming out here to Seattle. I was a big advocate of getting money to the farms and I would buy directly from the farmer and sell straight to the consumer, which gave the farmers more money.
We try to educate our consumers on what we’re about– educating people on eating the entire animal instead of what’s popular.

What’s the best thing about being a butcher?

Previously, consumers could only get our products at farmers markets. Most grocery outlets do not offer the quality of products that we have. So I guess the best part is being the Middle man in that aspect.

You’re quoted as being “the world’s shortest supply chain.” Could you explain more about this for our readers?

We buy directly from the farmer, and send directly to our shop for retail sale. We advertise for those farms, letting the consumer know where it comes from.

3 words to describe natural grass fed beef?

Healthy, delicious, appealing.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Red. I always run hot.

If I gave you a herd of cattle, where would you hide it?

I have no place to hide a herd of cattle. Maybe the parking garage in my building.

If you were a cut of meat, which would you be?

Sirloin tip.

Empower women farmers in Sudan with farming education, and sustainability efforts. Join our Eat Local, Give Global campaign! Bill the Butcher and Jolkona are the dream team making headway on this exciting project. Access the donation page online or stop at any of the shops to learn more and hold your own “interview” with the butchers!
Check out Laura Kimball’s launch post, or go the campaign page for more details.

AIDS doesn’t need much of an introduction. Its statistics are numerous as they are harrowing. But there is one statistic more conspicuous, more worrying, more jolting to the mind than perhaps any other, and this statistic is unchanging: there is no vaccine for AIDS; there is no cure.

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, one of the year’s most recognized international health days. Its goals are threefold: increase awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services. Go the World AIDS Campaign page for a whole trove of information. Educate yourself.

Getting to Zero

Crucial to the battle against AIDS is the Joint United Nations Programme, UNAIDS, who are behind the push for a new global response to AIDS. Key to their phraseology is Getting to Zero. This sets our three main goals for 2015:

Zero new infections

Zero AIDS-related deaths

Zero discrimination

Such goals are equally ambitious, urgent, and inspiring. To learn more, go the UNAIDS strategy webpage here.

Jolkona AIDS projects: NHCC and the Slum Doctor Programme

At Jolkona, we are partnered with two projects in areas of the world where AIDS is most prevalent: Africa and East Asia. Cambodia has the highest AIDS incidences in the whole of Asia. The identified infected population is somewhere near 65,000. Over 3000 are children under the age of fifteen. Most of those children are orphaned. They are left for nothing. New Hope for Cambodian Children (NHCC) provides full range housing, nutritional, health and educational needs for these children. They are a small beacon of light within a maelstrom of darkness. One donation of $75 supports the medical needs of one child infected with AIDS for six months. That’s $12.50 a month – what, a little more than your monthly subscription to Netflix? Go to the Jolkona campaign page, give, and help alleviate the suffering of these children today.

Tumaini is a community based organization in Nairobi, Kenya, partnered with the Slum Doctor Programme. Tumaini’s main objective is raising funds to provide HIV medication. While the Kenyan government and major grants, such as PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief), pay for a substantial amount of this medication, the funds fail to cover the need to its full extent. Tumaini works tirelessly to bridge that gap and to fill that need. One donation of $30 provides full HIV treatment for one patient for two weeks in Nairobi. That’s about a third of your average monthly cell phone bill. Cut the chit chat and let your money do the talking. Give to the Slum Doctor Programme here.

Zero new infections. Zero AIDS-related deaths. Zero discrimination. Be a part of Getting to Zero.