Tag Archives: socially responsible

Social justice meets Bollywood

I have been following a new blog by  Deeply Shredded and one of his recent posts recommended watching “AArakshan” a Bollywood film.

It has been a long while since I have watched a full length Bollywood film. This was a long one, so it took me 2 days to watch it in 20 min increments, around my work. I had totally forgotten how much like our American made Musicals they are. The musical moments in this film reminded me of the over-the-top numbers of the likes of “Moulin Rouge” or “Chicago”. Very entertaining, though I was aware very quickly that this movie was about far more than entertainment.

It was intended to bring to light social inequalities and it is unclear to me if the events that had occurred in the movie were based on actual historical events or if it was more of a docu-drama more loosely based in reality. Regardless, it does delve into real concerns over the sorely outdated caste system and the plague that it causes on vast populations within India. More specifically it looks at how the lower casts have had to struggle for even the right to basic education.

Their terminology used for a law was Reservation, as in we are reserving these spaces for the lower casts. It directly reminded me of our own Affirmative Action here in the United States and also the Desegregation of schools in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and resulting busing in the 1970’s.

Though my life is not that of a lower cast Indian, I found I could relate on some level. I grew up with a father that could not stand Affirmative Action, because it did nothing for him. He was angry that our family had come to America as indentured servants, yet were not afforded any ‘compensation’ as the blacks were. As a child I could remember him ranting about Affirmative Action and how it was keeping him from getting jobs. Yet he could not see that the major difference for him was that he was a grown white male with a college degree in engineering and a European name. I never understood why he felt that way. I could see that he looked like everyone else he worked with, literally every office he ever worked in was old white men with the random black person or woman.  I could see that regardless of whether Affirmative Action was in place, my father was never in jeopardy of having a job unless it was by his own mis-step or mis-fortune. Essentially, my father had the rights and privileges that those of black skin or female gender did not. (He was equivalent to the upper cast in India, and Blacks/Women the lower cast.)

This movie was making the same point. The upper casts by birth were showered with rights, privileges and resources that lowers casts simply didn’t even have access to. The turning point was when the Principle pointed out that the rich boy with low scores could hardly be compared to the poor child with the same scores, for the rich child had all of the resources needed to learn properly and succeed. If the child with all of the resources was still failing it was simply a reflection of their ability or desire to do well, and that should not allow them to take precedent over the child that managed just as well with nothing and no support.

I really understood when the Principle initially refused to agree with the Reservation law. I understood that he had wished for there to be simple equality where a person’s results were balanced against their resources and assistance. That he wish for no more than for the cast system to be acknowledged as obsolete by everyone, and that both sides could see the other. {BTW I totally agree, I wish all of society functioned that way. I too wish that we could stop labeling and putting factions of our world population down for just their mere existence.}

Alas, as is often the case in this world, the greedy were the privileged. They were the ones with access to the controlling mechanisms and all of the resources, and the idea of others encroaching on that made them react in fear of loss. They simply can’t bear to share anything. The ‘mastermind’ of the movie was intelligent and well connected, and made all of the right moves to make sure everyone was afraid of him. He took the Principle out and took his home and pushed him down as far as he possibly could.

In the end the Principle rebuilt on his own, teaching for free. He was still successful earning the trust of thousands of families. When everything came to a head and the greedy parties threatened to do physical harm and destroy what was rebuilt, a high government official stepped in. She stopped the battle before it was started and gave the principle a new remedial school to continue to run for the free education of the poor casts. He was rewarded as the hero of education.

I must say that I have several thoughts on this matter:

  1. Intelligence is not the only thing you need to earn the respect of a community at large. Intelligence must be accompanied by heart and wisdom. That is why the Principle was the hero, and why the greedy parties were only able to strike fear in the people. The same with money: money is only good if accompanied by heart and wisdom. I am reminded of our own Rockefeller Family especially SR vs JR and the mindset difference between them. Today we can still see this dichotomy play out with examples like Trump vs. Oprah/Paul Newman/Branson/Warren Buffet (the billionaires club being invaluable to good deeds these days).
  2. All humans do deserve an education. That is a basic right, and I am glad that the Principle was able to win the war. Since those rich people wish to separate themselves so badly, let them have their private paid schools and continue to coast through life, while the rest of us do the real work to ensure humanity continues to thrive.
  3. I too wish that this world could finally move past outdated useless ideas and find the ideal of equality. These battles have been raging for centuries and they have yet to solve anything for anyone. I genuinely wish that my generation and those younger than me, can come together for once and for all, and put an end to all of this bullshit. We all have hearts and lungs and flowing blood. We all need to eat and drink, and we should all be able to live in this world with less fear induced by others of our own species.  There is no reason to perpetuate this fucked up idea that any one group is better than or lesser than another. Treat each other as the humans we are. Be Kind damnit!
  4. Finally, you reap what you sow. If you are deceptive, deceitful, greedy and hateful, you are likely to get put in your place by the end of your life. If you genuinely strive to do better, be a better person, and do good in this world, eventually you will find reward of one kind or another. Nathan and I like to refer to that as Universal Law or God Law. Humans can attempt to make rules, laws, regulations to dictate what is good and what is bad, but we are merely attempting to put words and labels on something you just know when you see it. Lets all aim for the positive side of the scale. Be Kind, Be Good, Be Caring, Be Helpful.
    • Be the Change You Wish To See in the World! ~Ghandi

Thank you for reading my rants and rambles. May you all find your light in this world and feel safe and respected. May you all have your basic rights honored and find a way to a prosperous life.

As Above, So Below, So Mote it Be.

Dhanyavadam. Siva Hir Su.

Atira; Diversity

So apparently, I am on Installment 5 of the Atira writings. For this one I desire to write about all of the diversity in Atira that I wish to create. I wish for Atira to have diversity in a lot of respects: people, living plants and animals, energy sources, and housing. However, none of those will be possible if Atira can not sustain itself financially.

Ultimately, I feel that the business side of Atira is the most important solely because the funds earned through the businesses will sustain the humanitarian and charitable efforts of the community. Without something to generate profits and income, Atira would essentially be a finite limited project that would burn out in a set amount of time and would thus limit the amount of good that could be done.

Now, you will never hear me compare myself to the likes of our current president or the sharks of Shark Tank- I am definitely not on their level business wise, or strategy wise for that matter. However, having managed to be self employed for 4 years and having voluntarily opened and subsequently voluntarily closed an office, as well as having all but 2 classes of a business minor- I do understand the basics of business.

The most important tenets of business that I was taught were as follows:

  • Do something you are passionate about- it’s easier to keep motivated and expend the energy to build the business, it can also help in convincing others to be passionate about your business, which will only help to grow the business.
  • Make sure that you have adequate funding to maintain the business for up to 5 years. Most businesses fail if that concept is not met.
    • Include in your budget resources for both adequate assistance (employees) and adequate marketing (people need to know all of what you have to offer, where you are, and when/how they can spend their money with your business). If you don’t market your business well enough it may make reaching that magical 5 year mark much harder.
  • And finally diversify- if all of your financial eggs are in one basket, essentially you’re relying on one magical thing to ensure you make it, you are more likely to fail. If you have a variety of products or services that you offer, then if one fails horribly you are not doomed.
  • A business plan helps to ensure you’ve accounted for these things and also your physical resources, inventories, time and space needs, and even organize the progression of building your business from scratch including supply and distribution concerns.

I’m betting that the Sharks on Shark Tank would agree with these. They might mince words, tell me I need to expand on the concepts more, or scold me for failing to provide other supporting concepts and details, but then I would say- this is just a blog about what I’d like to see happen! Additionally, I would say that my concepts of Atira definitely meet both passion and diversity. What I lack is the official business plan and funding. The former being relatively easy, the latter being much more difficult.

So, I’ve already discussed that this is a passion that has been festering for over a decade. The first failed attempt at starting Atira (we hadn’t even named it yet) small scale was done in 2006. We’d already discussed Atira for a couple of years when we tried to make a small go. *Nathan’s bad divorce was ultimately a huge cause for the first fail, as we didn’t factor doubled child support payments into plans not knowing it was a possibility. When the divorce finally completed his obligations were over twice as much as we thought they would be. We stalled out quickly.* After that fail, we became hesitant, and life encouraged that hesitation with set-back after set-back. We never quit talking abut all the things we’d like to do.

In 2008 we were having a discussion about Atira- making a mock map and discussing how we wanted to arrange things- when the word Atira popped into my head. I googled the word not knowing it’s origin or anything, even guessing on the spelling, merely going by what I ‘heard’. Google results returned that it was a Hebrew Girl’s name meaning prayer (I liked that concept and felt it fit), and also it had some native american context. There wasn’t much to be found with that word in 2008. Now there is much more information available.

The point of that, is that this is most definitely not a new concept, and the concept itself goes back further in our history than even having a name label for it.

So what is that concept? Help people make their lives better and the world better through a diverse business and community structure. I’ve described a bit of that in previous posts, but lets focus in on the business. I’ll break down each aspect that I brought up previously, as follows:

Festivals:

Nathan and I have both attended a variety of festivals in a variety of settings. The reasoning for having festivals is 2 fold. 1- We wish to have those wonderful experiences right at our doorstep. 2- We wish to make Atira a destination place for people all over to come and see what we’re about. The more people see what we’re doing, the more likely they might wish to create Atira Jr. and spread the love and assistance.

As for the types of festivals, we want as much diversity as the business structure itself. There are 52 weeks in a year, 2/3’s of which would be in ‘fair’ to ‘good’ weather. That’s roughly 34 weeks of available festival space/time. We have envisioned having film festivals, music festivals, art festivals, and yes pagan-clothing-optional festivals. We would like to have art and film festivals for each good season, so 3 times each per year. That’s only 6 weeks out of the 34. The rest of the weeks available would be divided between music, pagan festivals, and private gatherings (alternate groups to utilize the festival grounds). I personally would prefer that music festivals dominate, but Nathan and I have compromised to allow for the remaining 28 weeks to be divided relatively evenly with 10 weeks music, 10 weeks pagan, and 8 weeks private/for-rent.

That’s a lot of festivals. From having been on the hands on crew for planning/implementation of a couple of festivals, I am aware of how many hands on deck are needed to pull such endeavors off once, let alone year round. Lets just say, it would be a full-time crew of about 100 people, with another 50-ish others being part-time. Yet, entirely possible. Festivals are usually run Friday, Saturday, Sunday, with setup Being Wednesday/Thursday and tear down being Monday/Tuesday. Thus, needing both full and part-time crew. What would reduce staff needs is if there were permanent structures to facilitate the events with a minimum of set-up and tear-down. I think of classic Ren-Faire environments, when this comes to mind, where they have merchants literally rent permanent structures that are small basic buildings. I prefer that Atira would have a more modern rendition of that concept.

There would have to be a few staff members to divide up festival planning (2 to 3 professional event coordinators) and marketing (2 to 3 marketing pros) of all events.

Arts:

The studio I referenced in Installment 4. Studio Rental space, gallery space, arts council, and store for locally produced crafts, textiles, and fbre wears (handmade papers).

Healing:

This is the office where medical and complimentary alternative medicine cooperate for whole body health. I foresee the providers there being hired and helping all of the incoming transitional cases to find stable health, both mentally and physically so that they can begin training for opportunities elsewhere in the community. I wish there to be at least one of each (maybe more) of the following: General Practice MD, DO, DC, PT, OT, Speech Therapist, LMT, Acupuncturist, NMD, Chinese Herballist, Psychologist, Medical Certified Nutrition-Scientist, Personal Trainer, Reiki practitioner, and Yoga (&/or pilates) Instructor.

Energy:

Atira needs to run on Green energy sources, but I want it to be a ‘go to’ for planning and installing green energy in other places. I want people outside the community to come to us for help turning their home green, for turning their small businesses green, and I want the word to spread well enough that even larger businesses and corporations take note and start following suit. I want Atira to push for greater efforts in the world at large to go green. The pioneers are already out there, I want Atira to push the edges a bit further.

Grocery/home goods store

Again, this is to be a store that sells it all. “Buy Fresh Buy Local”, Organic (especially from Atira crops), Alternative Fiber goods, Hand crafted housewares, and a variety of other socially responsible products. The best of the best equivalent to whatever you could find in any ‘regular’ grocery store. It may be idealistic to think that a store could exist that only sells those types of items, but it’s an ideal I want to attempt. I have this “If you build it, they will come.” mentality. I think people want to shop responsibly but when it becomes difficult (having to do research, read labels even more, etc.) they give up. If you make it easy by telling people through adequate marketing that anything they buy at the store will be socially responsible, they’ll want to shop there. Then there would just need to be adequate signage in-store to show people which products are local, and which might be non-local but still socially responsible, and signage explaining all edibles are organic, etc. Make it easier for people to find what they need and still feel good about their purchases having a positive ripple effect on the world.

Bakery/cafe/restaurant:

BAKE: Sprouted and fermented grain goods, No-grain baked goods, gluten free, nightshade-free, corn-free. Something tasty for everyone. Baked goods sold through both the Cafe and Grocery.

Cafe: Heavy on the teas, light on the coffees and espressos, fresh made juice-cocktail bar. Always with vegan and vegetarian options. Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, Caesin free and RAW. Wi-Fi for all, regardless of purchase. Nathan and I want the cafe to be the gathering place where people want to be to discuss and create. A modern Salon (before it meant hair-cutting, it was a gathering place).

We envision the cafe and restaurant being attached, like 2 halves of one space, maybe a short wall for delineation.

Restaurant: Foods for all. Meat to vegan, Allergies considered. The menu would have subsections for allergy restrictions. (I am very cognizant of this with my long list!) The restaurant would also have a great salad bar and alcohol bar.

All together it means happy eating and drinking any time of day for any person that walks through the door.

Crops:

Finally, the crops I wish to have are for both financial and personal reasons.

Cash crops:

Hemp:

For fibre, milk, seeds (food), and protein (powder drinks)

Cannabis:

For medical and/or recreational – there would have to be significant land mass between the hemp and cannabis to avoid cross pollination…. so grown on opposite sides of the property, with everything literally separating the 2.

Herbs:

Herbs are actually a lucrative cash crop for 2 reasons:

1- when you go to the grocery store, answer the question: how much am I getting for my dollar compared to a loaf of bread or a pound of meat. You get a half ounce of herbs for the cost of a loaf of bread, maybe an ounce or two for the cost of a pound of meat.

2- Have you ever compared organic herbs to regular (Tones or McCormic), the organic is usually double the cost.

Herbs can also be used to create designer teas at high dollar value, and even extracted to essential oils for even higher dollar value. Plus they are full of great nutrition in any form.

 

No quite such a cash crop, but equally important are all the vegetables I wish to grow large scale.

Cucumbers, Squashes, Mellons, Berries, Greens/Lettuces, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Fennel, Onions/leeks, Garlics, tree fruits, etc…. everything except what america tends to grow (no corn, soy, wheat, or nightshades).

Yum!

I’ve even considered growing non-edible plant crops: trees, shrubs, flowers… though those tend to take more space, so it may boil down to an acreage and climate issue.



 

The many things I long for. I write of these things to take the sting out of reality. I write of these things to cling to my hope for making the world a better place. I write of these things hoping it will bring an energy of abundance into my life. I write of these things hoping for better: for me, my family, my friends, and the world at large.

  • I am not ignorant of the news. I choose not to focus on it because it causes great fear and concern in me. I wrote months before the election (perhaps in another outlet) that I thought we were already technically in WW III because of Bush Jr’s meddling in the middle east and creating the war on terror. Obama merely failed to end that escapade. Now we’re faced with a dumb-ass president that seems may have put the final missile into WW III. I just can’t devote too much mental energy into dwelling on that because I’ve already had dreams of being in a nuclear blast and loosing my family and everything. If I dwell I might fall really far back in the abyss of depression, and that is simply not acceptable.

 

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