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Message from Nadia Mahmud, Jolkona CEO, to Give to Girls 2014 donors:

Thank you so much for joining us to Give to Girls! Your contributions helped us raise more than $2,600 in March for Jolkona partners supporting maternal health, education and empowerment for women and girls locally and globally.Nadia

With your donations ranging from $10 to $1,000, our collective giving is enough to fund English and computer classes for eight girls in Nepal (Bo M. Karlsson Foundation), agriculture training and supplies for six women farmers in Sudan (MADRE), school supplies for five girls in Liberia (More Than Me Foundation), job skills classes for two homeless women in Seattle (Jubilee Women’s Center), and more.

Our partner organizations will be sending out impact reports for every donation in the coming months. You can also continue supporting these kinds of projects by making a meaningful contribution to Jolkona’s Women & Girls partners throughout the year.

If your company has a matching donation program, you have an opportunity to double your impact. Let us know if we can assist you in submitting the information to your employer this month.

Thank you for investing in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today!

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Like many first-time moms, when I went into labor last year, I was really scared about how painful the delivery would be and whether anything would go wrong with me or my baby girl. And even now, though Aleena is very healthy, I often double-check to make sure she’s still breathing when she’s asleep.

These fears are real to me, but they seem so trivial compared to the fears that mothers in developing countries face: Will they survive childbirth? Will their babies survive? Will they be able to give them clean water and healthy food? What about medicine if they get sick? Can they afford to send them to school? All of them, or just the boys?

Medical complications from pregnancy is one of the leading causes of death for women around the world. Even in India, which has made great strides in the past generation, the maternal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization – even worse than in neighboring Bangladesh and Nepal. But there’s hope: When I visited a Kolkata slum a few years ago, I met with a grateful woman and baby who had received proper prenatal care and a safe delivery through Calcutta Kids. Thanks to the funding this nonprofit gets from our Jolkona donors and other supporters, this woman and thousands of others in her community no longer live in fear of dying in childbirth, or that their children won’t live past their fifth birthdays.

Some people argue that supporting efforts to improve maternal and child healthcare in slums and developing countries only exacerbates overpopulation. But, as Melinda Gates noted in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, the data actually show that when more children survive, women opt to have fewer babies – slowing population growth and improving education and empowerment opportunities per family.

 In addition to health issues, the world’s women and girls continue to lag behind in education and employment. Improving these measures is a win-win-win for the women, their families and their communities. Researchers have confirmed that when women and girls earn money, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families (compared to only 30-40 percent for men) – a ripple effect that can break the cycle of poverty in a single generation.  

Last Day to Give to Girls

These stories and statistics inspire me during Jolkona’s annual Give to Girls campaign, combined with March as Women’s History Month. This year, we focused on crowdfunding in three categories where our growing pool of small donations can have the greatest collective impact: maternal health, education, and empowerment. The 10 projects we chose will each provide proofs for every donation, so that even small donors feel confident that they can make a difference.

It always amazes me how little it costs to make a life-changing difference for young woman. For just $30, we can train a woman farmer in Sudan. For $60, we can educate a girl in Afghanistan for one year. For $160, we can provide prenatal care to a mother in Guatemala.

All it takes is a small donation to change lives – starting with one girl, her family, her village, and the world. We need to invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to girls today.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, Jolkona is launching our 4th annual Give to Girls campaign. All month long, we will bring you opportunities to help girls and women in nine countries.

By supporting women’s education, health and empowerment, we can create sustainable economic development and reduce poverty locally and globally. By working with Jolkona and our Give to Girls partners, you can help, too — starting with just $5. As U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon states:

This International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

Welcome to Give to Girls 2014! This year’s projects:

Education

Maternal Health

Empowerment

Give Together Bonus

Starting at $10, you can also Give Together — contributing to a collective grant and helping us choose which project related to women and girls gets the community’s pool of donations this month.

With your support in these three key areas, not only will more women have social and economic opportunities, but the whole world will benefit from a ripple effect of change. Thank you for your support!

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As Jolkona gears up for International Women’s Day, several of our female supporters joined others from the greater Seattle area to discuss how improving health, wealth and community ties helps women and girls achieve personal and professional success. The Feb. 20 event, “Ignite Your Radiance,” was hosted by Michelle Wong, a lifestyle/financial freedom strategist, with proceeds benefiting Jolkona operations.

The first speaker was our CEO and co-founder, Nadia Mahmud. Opening up with a quote from Malcolm X, Nadia captured the heart of the giving spirit, and how a philosophy of generosity can improve a woman’s personal and communal quality of life:

Melody Biringer, founder of CRAVE, delighted us with anecdotes of past failures and successes, with each challenge bringing her closer to understanding of the power of authentic relationships:

Dianne Juhl, the founder of the Feminine Face of Money, offered insight into the transformative power of financial freedom for women:

The last speaker invited the audience to get up and dance, literally!  See why Jamie Silverstein, a retired Olympic ice dancer and now owner of the Grinning Yogi Studio, believes we all can be moved and inspired:

Thank you to Michelle Wong, the speakers and audience for a successful event. If you haven’t already done so, check out the event photos on our Facebook page — and stay tuned for a special Jolkona women/girls giving campaign leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8.

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Through its events and campaigns, Jolkona has created a vibrant, fun and energetic community of Gen Y’s that not only give their money, but also their time and hearts. As a Jolkona supporter and someone who is passionate about teaching women the power of financial independence, I’m excited to partner with Jolkona to launch a special event on Feb. 20: Ignite Your Radiance. This evening will bring women together to share the message that health, wealth and community are all interdependent and essential to success, with proceeds going to support Jolkona operations.

Many of us spend the majority of our time and energy thinking about our health or finances, and often times, can feel isolated. Yet finances tend to be taboo topics for women — not something typically discussed in social circles.

Without wealth, health is compromised; without health, there is no wealth. Community, when robust, strengthens both health and wealth. Put all three together, and you have a powerful foundation that can propel your life, career and business to the next level. By incorporating each of these pieces together, we can fully be empowered to be of service to others.

Women are natural connectors, and thrive with an encouraging and supportive community. On Thursday, Feb. 20, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded women, and hear from a group of amazing speakers from different backgrounds: Jolkona’s CEO Nadia Mahmud; Jamie Silverstein, a yoga studio owner and former U.S. Olympian; Melody Biringer, a successful author and entrepreneur; and Dianne Juhl, a financial coach with an impressive personal story. In a TED Talks-style format, each will share her experience of how achieving a balance between wealth, health, and community has helped her thrive. Men and women alike who attend can learn from these stories, be inspired and expand their social and business networks.

Will you be one of them?

To learn more and attend this event, please visit: https://igniteyourradiance.eventbrite.com

Guest post by Michelle Wong, a Jolkona donor.

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Jolkona Staff - 2010

Jolkona’s Fearless Females – 2010

In Jolkona’s first five years, we’ve collected more than $700,000 for nonprofit partners locally and globally. More than $40,000 has come just through Give2Girls, a campaign we run every March to specifically support causes for women and girls. And we’ve raised more than $1,200 so far this month through our Give Together featured cause of Women & Girls, supporting projects in Seattle, Nepal and Sudan.

Our work for women and girls is much bigger than the occasional fundraising theme, however. One way or another, most of our partners empower women and girls. Some literally save lives; others strive to make those lives worth living. As Jolkona blogger Madison Abshire noted at the beginning of this month: “The world’s women and girls are one of the greatest sources of untapped potential for providing lasting global change… Improving women’s lives has a positive impact on society; on average, 90 percent of each dollar invested in a woman is returned to her family and community.”

We’ve had dozens of interesting posts here on the Jolkona Blog about how donors and volunteers can make a big difference for the world’s women and girls. Three blasts from the past:

Double Your Dollars

This month, we have matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation to amplify donations to Jolkona partner projects related to women and girls. This offer will double the first $1,500 given to our Give Together and Give Direct projects for women/girls. Which one inspires you to give? 

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Anne FrankI had a poster of Anne Frank on my bedroom wall when I was growing up. On my 16th birthday, I looked up at her, sadly and somewhat apologetically, thinking about how I would now always be older than her — and about all the other innocent girls around the world struck down for reasons beyond their control and my comprehension.

Malala Yousafzai

Today is International Day of the Girl Child, and for me, it feels like we’ve gotten a second chance with Malala Yousafzai. The Pakistani teenager, who miraculously survived being shot in the head by the Taliban over her fight for the right to girls’ education, turned 16 this summer. She’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and has been making the rounds to promote the Malala Fund and her new book.

I took notes as I watched the livestream of her appearance, with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, at Mashable’s Social Good Summit last month. Some notable quotes:

Malala:

I want education for every child.

We shall not wait for someone else. We shall not wait for the governments to do it. We shall do it by ourselves. It is our duty.

My dream is to see every girl be educated, in every country.

A Talib chooses guns to solve a problem. We choose our voice… a peaceful way to solve problems.

I believe that today it would seem like a dream that we are saying tomorrow there will be equality. It seems a dream now — but in future, it will be reality.

Ziauddin Yousafzai:

In most parts of the world, when a girl is born, right from the very beginning, her wings are clipped. She’s not let to fly. The only thing I did: I tried to make her free, to make her free and independent. I dreamed for her. All that is good. Now it’s up to her what she chooses for herself.

A few days ago, she also had a charming visit with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. (Sorry, the embedded video is not working, so just use the link for now. –NNG)

Jon Stewart should have had her on for the whole show, or at least two segments — the government shutdown news mockery will be good for a while (sigh) — but TDS did add two extended interview clips to the website:

Each of us can do something more to support girls and women, whether in desperate situations like Malala’s Swat Valley or in our own neighborhoods. This month, donations through our Give Together program will help fund three nonprofits working with women and girls in Nepal, Sudan and here in Seattle. The pool we raise this month will be matched by Seattle International Foundation funds, so there’s twice as much reason to give — starting at just $10. Join Jolkona’s Give Together for Women & Girls in October, and make a big difference for women in Africa, Asia and the United States.

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This month, our Give Together projects focus on supporting and empowering women and girls. Our first partner, the Jubilee Women’s Center, provides essential services like affordable housing and job training to homeless women in the Seattle area, to help them transition out of poverty. Follow them on Twitter: @JubileeSeattle.

We have up to $1,500 in matching funds from the Seattle International Foundation for October’s Give Together campaign for Women & Girls. So join Give Together and your gift will be doubled this month!

Jubilee photo2What’s your mission? What inspires your organization?

Jubilee Women’s Center’s mission is to support women experiencing poverty to build stable and fulfilling futures, one extraordinary woman at a time. We are inspired by the women we serve who, although they have been through terrible circumstances, are all – we believe – extraordinary. Jubilee works to help them overcome their circumstances and build resiliency for a healthier, more secure life ahead.

What’s your project for this month’s Give Together campaign?

Recently, Jubilee has expanded the capabilities of our Learning & Opportunity Center so we can now serve women in the community in addition to our residents here. We can now offer computer and life skills classes for up to 22 women at a time! Classes range from Introduction to Computers to Conflict Resolution to Resume Writing. All of these skills can give women the skills they need to have a more secure future.

If Jolkona’s Give Together members raise $250 for your organization, what’s our impact?

If Give Together members can raise $250, Jubilee can offer a four-class series to 12 women on career exploration, resume writing, job interview skills and job searching. With these skills, women can begin to work toward a career that will pay them a living wage and insure their independence.

In a nutshell, why should Give Together members support your project this month?

Jubilee relies on the support of our community to help women transform their lives. Led by the guiding principle that all women are to be treated with respect and dignity, Jubilee’s holistic programs, housing and support services help women make permanent life changes. We do this by providing safe, affordable and supportive community housing and educational resources to empower each woman to become financially independently, regardless of her circumstances.

We love impact reports at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite story you can share about how your organization changed someone’s life?

There are so many stories of how Jubilee has changed women’s lives! The first one that comes to mind is a resident who drained her savings and retirement fund when she was treated for breast cancer. When it came back, she found herself homeless. She found Jubilee as she was losing her apartment, and had time and space to go through treatment and get healthy. She took advantage of the many resources at Jubilee and is in college, working to earn a degree in accounting. There are so many stories like this!

This is one post in our ongoing Partner Spotlight series. When you join Give Together, you can allocate your October contribution to the Jubilee Women’s Center, or one of our other Women and Girls projects. Email your choice to givetogether@jolkona.org, or tell us via Twitter: @Jolkona #GiveTogether #WomenEmpowerment

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Is a leader strongest on her own, or as part of a global community? Can you yourself produce the greatest good by sending information and resources one way, or is there much more to be gained through collaboration, and partnership? As you invest in providing training and vital networking to a woman already changing her local community, what can you learn from such an inspiring person?

One of the central themes of the Give2Girls campaign is that investing in women makes an incredible difference, as, on average, they return 90% to their families, children, and community. There are so many projects that positively impact women throughout the world. iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program takes an innovative approach to that idea, by empowering local women, and giving them the tools they need to be local and global leaders.

The mission of iLEAP is to create global transformation through inspiring and engaging social leaders across the world. With a network of non-profits, business, universities, and other associations linking the US, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, their training programs aim to collaborate with leaders, create regional networks, and international partnerships. The programs emphasize hands on learning so participants can work directly with the leaders in their field. They connect people in a range of sectors, ranging from global health, and human rights to education and sustainable agriculture.

The Program

As part of the International Fellowship Program, 10 to 15 Women grassroots leaders from across Asia, Latin America, and Africa are selected from a highly competitive pool to come to Seattle, WA, and attend a rigorous and comprehensive 8-week leadership training program.

  • The training includes courses on topics like communication, technology and management.
  • Helps them to build a network of local businesses and NGOs and other development organizations in their area of interest.
  • Women learn about the interactions between NGOs, business and government agencies.
  • Whilst honing their skills through the program, the women also have the opportunity to become involved in Seattle’s community, and make personal connections.
  • They live with a home-stay family, attend events, and are sponsored by local organizations that work in the same area of interest so they can exchange ideas.

Why the program is important

Empowering women as leaders is vital to the UN Millennium Development goals of promoting gender equality, and encouraging global partnerships. Women bear the brunt of global poverty, due to gaps in income and education, as well as violence, and maternal mortality. Women leaders in developing countries are already taking steps to address these issues and lead the improvement in their communities. iLEAP’s fellowship provides these women with more in depth training and an international network of partners and mentors, so that they can continue their work more effectively, and with renewed inspiration.

The Give2Girls campaign is all about investing in girls and women, to create a better world tomorrow, and iLEAP’s International Fellowship Program is an incredible opportunity for determined and talented women grassroots leaders to network internationally, increase the impact of their work in their own communities, and become global citizens. Through amazing donations, Give2Girls has been fully funded, but a donation will still make an incredible difference. $100 provides the weekly stipend for a Fellow to stay in Seattle, and participate in the program. As a result, each graduate leaves with practical skills, and a global community of support. In turn, they contribute to sustainable social change.

You can also be a part of the Give2Girls movement by helping to spread the word by liking us on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter (#give2girls), and Pinterest

 

How’s your knowledge of women’s history? Honestly. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say mine is a little patchy. Well, if you’re anything like me, then this month of March is your chance to change that. March is Women’s History Month – a world-wide movement that looks back and celebrates the tenacious achievements of women in our history, with a mind to looking forward and increasing awareness of the great distance that is yet to be traveled to achieve gender equality.

Introducing the Give2Girls matching campaign

To celebrate and participate in Women’s History Month, we’re proud to be launching our second Give2Girls matching campaign, running for the whole of March – starting today! We’re dedicating thirty one days to improving the lives of thousands of women and girls around the globe. Like last year, we’re partnering with the indefatigable CRAVE, a networking organization committed to connecting and promoting women entrepreneurs.

How will the campaign work?

Give to any of our 20+ projects related to women or girls, and we will match your donation, dollar for dollar, up to $500 per donor! Even better than that, though, we will double your proof. So donate $40 to educate one girl in Afghanistan for ten months, and we’ll send you the proof for how two girls have been educated. The campaign is being matched up to a total of $6,000.

Why this campaign?

Here are just some of the reasons:

  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’ eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • The total global population of girls ages 10 to 24 – already the largest in history – is expected to peak in the next decade.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.
  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.

(statistics taken from girleffect.org)

For too long women have been over-looked. Their worth within society, communities, and families has been woefully neglected. And the true absurdity of this is that the roles they play within these spheres are of paramount importance. But we’re not here to bemoan the past; we’re here to change the future. So let’s do that.

What can I do?

1. Educate yourself. Give a bit of your time to learning about the past and women’s history. You can start here at womenshistorymonth.org. Then, learn about the present. The sites are numerous, but here are a couple we like: girleffect.org and the UN’s womenwatch.

2. Spread the word. Share what you learn and share our campaign with your friends, families and social networks. Tweet using the hashtag #give2girls.

3. Change the future. Support the Give2Girls campaign and invest in the women of tomorrow by giving to the girls of today!

Empower women and girls the world over here.

 

There’s a nothing like a bit of jargon-busting from time to time, especially when it concerns a word that is heavily used. A word like empowerment, for example – we talk about it a lot at Jolkona. But why? What is it about empowerment that is so fundamental to our vision as a non-profit? The answer to that question lies in the relationship between power and justice: one of the core functions of justice is granting power to those who need it. Take any situation of injustice, chronic or temporary, and at its root will be an imbalance or abuse of power.

In America there is an imbalance of power in the meat industry. Small scale farmers are marginalized due to agricultural pressures to yield high quantity (not quality) at minimum costs. In the world there is an imbalance in the allocation of wealth, and one of the many countries that suffer interminably because of this is Sudan. Here farmers lack sufficient resources and access to agricultural education. Imbalances of power in the farming industry are local and global. So that’s why we started the Eat Local, Give Global campaign.

What was it about?

The goal was two-fold: to raise awareness of America’s overlooked local farming industry, whilst raising funds to provide tools and agricultural education for women farmers in Sudan. To do this we partnered with the brilliant and munificent Bill the Butcher, a Seattle-based chain of neighborhood butcher shops that supports sustainable farming practices by selling grass fed, natural meats from local farmers and ranchers. The funds were raised in three ways:

1) You could donate online through Jolkona via the campaign page

2) Customers could donate in any one of the six shops around Seattle

3) Bill the Butcher generously donated 10% of its sales on Thursdays and Fridays to the campaign

To throw in a bit of competition, we devised the Great Meat Race. This was a competition to see which of the six shops could raise the most of amount of money via customer and online donations.

What was the impact?

Some – but not all – of the results are in. We do not yet know the winner of the Great Meat Race, neither do we know the final amount raised including the 10% donation from Bill the Butcher’s Thursdays and Fridays sales. However, we do have the results from the donations made online and in the shops by you the donors. Remember: $30 covers the cost for one Sudanese woman to attend 2 days of farming classes, providing her with essential knowledge and tools which she can share with her entire village.

Through donations made online and in the shops, over $1170 was raised, providing training for 39 women.

Returning, then, to complete my jargon-busting: the crux of empowerment is not exercising power on someone’s behalf; rather, it is the placing of power into their own hands. And in this campaign the power was education and tools, both of which the women farmers in Sudan can utilize to change their own lives, that of their families, and that of their entire community. This is empowerment. Sincerest thanks to all who donated.

Stay tuned to find out which shop wins the Great Meat Race, and also for the final total raised and impact made….

And don’t forget: you are what you meat.

 

 

 

 

“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.

 

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?
Fall.

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?
Zero.

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.

 

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?
Fuchsia

Summer or Winter?
Winter

What lead you to becoming a butcher?
Curiosity

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?
Sure

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.


 

 

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