a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Archive for May, 2009

A look at — Johnny’s of Carrboro

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

As promised, photos of Johnny’s —–

Johnny’s of Carrboro Adds More Paris to the Piedmont

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

By Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I’ve arrived in Minneapolis, contemplating a big city post, but my head (and heart) is still in my home town of Carrboro, known in some circles as “The Paris of The Piedmont”. In the last few weeks, I’ve been lured into the world the world of Johnny’s – a both evolved and devolved gathering spot nestled in a downtown residential neighborhood on Main Street. What is Johnny’s? Go here for a good local story. Then, I’ll share what I’ve seen and let you decide.

*Johnny’s is a store. They sell milk, local butter, local baked goods, and very local eggs and vegetables from the chickens and garden beds out back. Local small farmers also show up on the weekends to peddle their wares.

*Johnny’s is a coffee shop. Their coffee is an exclusive “Johnny’s Blend”, roasted by behind the store. Since Johnny’s used to be many things, including a bait shop, a grocer and a house, it can feel a bit like being at grandmas on a warm Spring day – come in the back door and enjoy the breeze blowing through the windows while you connect online.

*Johnny’s is a music bar. Local musicians perform regularly – early shows to please the neighbors – serving a wide variety of unique local and international beers and wines by the bottle.

*Johnny’s is a gathering place. Speed Bingo happens every Wednesday, wine tastings on Thursdays, and a fish fry on Fridays. The locally owned and loved Taco Truck shares the lot space (along with bicycle racks) and made to order crepes show up on Saturdays. A fire pit in the yard sits on the brick patio where patrons are known to linger long after closing hours.

*Johnny’s is a work of art in progress. Owner, Brian Plaster, is an accomplished metal sculpter (and, as rumor has it, an outrageous off-road cyclist). In addition to changing art pieces and outdoor furniture (much of it is for sale), there is a hut in the middle of the yard made from reused lumber, providing a serving bar for special gatherings. Several picnic style tables encourages meeting and greeting in small groups.

*Johnny’s is a dream-come-true for Carrboro and I wish the same fortune upon every town across the world. It’s a home away from home, somewhere to share art, music, ideas, food, drink and fun – as casually as walking across the street to the neighbor’s house.

Thanks Brian and the others who make Johnny’s a special place. Minneapolis may be “The Little Apple”, but Johnny’s is giving Carrboro something Big.

ps. I”m away from my iphoto on this trip, but watch for some great pictures of life at Johnny’s next week. Tao

TS Designs Grows Locally with Cotton of Carolinas

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Eric Henry and Tom Sineath of TS Designs, the Burlington-based, leading sustainable t-shirt printers – just might be crazy. In 1993, after quickly moving up the ladder of the shirt/printing business, the passage of NAFTA killed their business pretty much overnight. Meeting crisis with opportunity, they reinvented their business along triple-bottom line principles.

Tom and Eric were ahead of the curve when they tapped into and comitted to the triple-bottom-line business model and focused on three equally important bottom lines: People, the Planet, and Profits.

“Armed with their new business model and a healthy amount of crazy, Tom and Eric sought to align themselves with, and cater to, a then-fringe group of radical, leftist wackos: The Green Movement…Today, TS Designs still sells largely to the now-mainstream group of radical wackos that is The Green Movement, but also prints for any organization looking for a better quality product with a better environmental and social impact.”

But this was just the beginning. They also developed a visionary mission statement that translates like this:

“Our vision is to transform the world we live in, both in small and large measures alike. Creating economic, ecological, and social prosperity while ensuring that future generations have the same opportunity. We  envision a world where no harmful chemicals are produced, worn, or discarded.”

What sounded like a daunting proposition moved forward at warp speed while Tom and Eric began greening anything and everything at the facility, including hot composting, solar and wind power, innovative water conservation systems to green houses, bee hives, biodiesel production  – and more! Click here to take a quickie virtual tour – it’s quite a ride.

Their dye and print process veers far from the traditional toxic silkscreening while enhancing both form and function. These and other programs also nurture employee well-being.

I’ve seen the plant and met the owners. Eric’s impressive enthusiasm is contagious and inexhaustible and soon his good green, employee friendly shirts and facility wasn’t enough. Fully aware that organic was only one of several solutions, Eric decided he wanted pursue local  – I mean LOCAL in capital letters. So he created a program that became Cotton of the Carolinas – a collaboration of farmers and manufacturers in NC with 3 main objectives: support of local economies, low transportation footpring and complete product transparency. They’re dedicated to selling them here too. The first two crops of ’08 and ’09, will be available for purchase only in North and South Carolina. Go here for more information.

When someone asks Tom Sineath what’s the most sustainable kind of t-shirt to buy, his answer is not to buy one  at all, fully recognizing that, as things stand now, there is no genuinely sustainable way to make and market a new shirt. When that day comes it will be because of people like Eric and Tom and their crew at TS Designs.

Animal Healing – no miracles required

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

Remember when my dog, River, was healed by an Animal Intuitive and Healer? I called it magic, but now I realize that this is a gift that comes directly from our connection to the Universal healing energy and I’m so happy that there are people with both this gift and knowledge for and about the animals in our lives.

This time, my cat, Sufi, showed up at the door, limping heavily. There were no signs of trauma or life-threatening injury, but she was way off kilter – sort of disconnected. Fortunately, she did not seem in pain since she was able to jump on the counter to ask for dinner, so I took a deep breath and decided to call Bonnie Illies, Animal Intuitive and Healer, in Minneapolis before I considered urgent care.

I’m so glad I did!!

As usual, Bonnie wanted to check in with Sufi before I gave her any information. She came back on the line, telling me that a problem in her hip/back showed up, as well as an issue with her pancreas. We talked about her symptoms. I also remembered to tell her that Sufi always had a “click” in her right hip from the time I found her and I wondered if this was a time, at age 10, where a malformed hip finally gave out – ? I had been feverently searching the internet for information before the phone call. I started obsessing about the cause of the problem, but as Bonnie reminded me, somewhat emphatically, “I don’t really care what it is, I care about healing her.”

Then she asked me some questions about her digestion….and I answered, yes, Sufi has had a habit of vomiting right after eating for almost 4 years now, something vets had always told me not to be concerned with. Yes, I fed her wet food that was refrigerated. Bonnie shared a lot of information about what could be aggravating the condition of her pancreas – things I never had heard from vets or read in books.

Bonnie did a healing that day and another a couple days later.

Well, the hip improved dramatically, despite what sounded possibly like an organic issue. I haven’t felt it “click” since, either. But, even more importantly, I found out something I never would have known or looked into – that a weakened pancreas was making it difficult for her to digest raw and cold foods and absorb nutrients. After the healing, I started warming her food and switched to the specific meats that Bonnie suggested.

Sufi has not thrown up since – 4 weeks later. She also seems more content and is eating a lot more without gaining too much weight. When I told Bonnie this, she pointed out that she probably didn’t feel well for a long time because of bad digestion and wasn’t absorbing what she needed. I always thought the vomiting problem was simply an inconvenience for me, but now that I know Sufi is healthier and feeling better, too, I am thrilled. I’m also very relieved that her hip displacement is healed and will not require surgery or drugs now or in the future.

I’m a believer. There exists a very real energy of healing. Thank you Bonnie, for sharing your important talent.

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