Doodling into the Mystic Perspectives

mystic Owl

A little teaser from a doodle I started last November. 

Just looking at this makes me feel a bit more like the Mad Hatter leading people down the rabbit hole into wonderland…

Which perhaps is why doodling has been a way I process thoughts, perspective and ideas.  Sometimes I even as an artist need to sit and ponder my creations, not fully realizing what I have created until some reflection has taken place.  This is one of those pieces, full of story, expression, meaning…What do you see?

This doodle is showing a picture of the spirit of wisdom and the gateway to knowing the times and seasons of life.  The Hebraic word on the owls head is a word for the eternal spirit as a door and gateway.

I’m thinking of picking up this summer where I left off with this sketch. More to come this summer.

~Jimmy

 

 

Coffee Masters @ Starbucks – Ethical Sourcing

coffee

This is the first coffee post I have written on Ecstatic Expression.  This is a longer article, but if you are interested in coffee talk, there is more coming.  I have been thinking about how to incorporate all the great stuff that is going on in the coffee and cafe world where I work, so I thought I would start with an initial post on ethical sourcing for those of you who asked.  I look forward to bringing a coffee and business leadership dimension to Ecstatic Expression over this next year (as I revamp the site in general).  So grab a cup of coffee and let’s begin.

Jimmy’s Coffee Beginnings

I had my first sip of coffee from my parents coffee at a young age, while I was living in upstate New York.  Disturbed by this brew, mainly because it wasn’t that good it would be another ten years till coffee and myself would move beyond gas station vacation drinks.

At sixteen I got my start in the coffee and culinary world at a local shop in where I was then living Greeley, CO, called the Bread Board Bakery and Cafe.  It was then that I had my first sip of Lavazza Espresso. Lavazza is a 100 year old Italian coffee company.  The espresso was ok, I remember when I took a shot of it though, it was like crossing a threshold, I had crossed a line into a world of coffee.

Years later, in 2013 I started working with Starbucks.  I was attracted to the culture, the high class catering to customers, and the rich coffee history, and respect the company had for it’s partners.

It was at my first store just down from the Colorado Rockies baseball stadium in Denver, CO that I met my first coffee master.  My friend Ethan, showed me how to taste coffee, told me stories of how coffee got it’s beginnings and led me through the differences in each bean.

Coffee masters for those who are wondering is a program that takes a barista through an intense course about coffee growing, coffee history, coffee processing, and coffee roasting. So when you see a Starbucks partner in a black apron you can ask those coffee questions you have always wondered about.

Ethical Sourcing

Last week June 25th, I led a seminar as part of “the last ten feet” of my coffee master certification.  I talked largely about ethical sourcing and Starbucks role in creating a new standard for the coffee industry around ethical sourcing.  I tackled questions like why is all of Starbucks coffee not Fair Trade?  What is Fair Trade coffee? What about organic certified coffee?  What are Starbucks souring principles?

In this post I will give an overview of what I discussed, and hopefully build some conversation around coffee, with the Ecstatic Expression, Starbucks, and online coffee community.

The big themes I have learned about coffee and about Starbucks is that coffee is all about relationships, relationships with plants, with people and with the planet…It’s bigger than coffee, but coffee is where we connect.

 

Start with this video:

First I want to cover the roles involved in growing coffee and the different type of farmers and suppliers we do business with as Starbucks.

Introducing the players on the coffee network:

Introduce the players in the coffee network: SSC: Starbucks Support Center—leadership HQ, and the base of Green Coffee Quality Team.

GCQ: Seattle, Washington

  • Manages recipes
  • Coffee product development
  • Determines standards for coffee and business needs for blends

SCTC –Starbucks Coffee Trading Company in Switzerland

  • Responsible for global purchase of coffee
  • Negotiating contracts for the purchase of coffee
  • Goal: Building relationships with Farmers

FSC—Farmer Support Centers (Costa Rica, Rwanda, China, …)

  • On the ground team of experts in soil, crop production and processing coffee.
  • Help implement our ethical guidelines for coffee producers.

Types of Farms and Suppliers:

Smallholder farms—majority of coffee is grown on farms 5-12 acres big, but can be bigger around 70-100acres.

Cooperatives:

  • Consist of 100-15,000 farms that join together to help promote and sell their coffee.
  • These groups are centered around a mill or processing facility.

Note: Coffee is grown on trees and its fruit ripens to look like a cherry, once harvested it is sent to a processing facility, which removes the pulp of the fruit off the green coffee bean.

Estates – combining farming and processing.

Exporters—buy from all the farms and can often be helpful for all parties.

Where the coffee crop has come from over the last 100 years:

Soon after Kaladi discovered coffee in Ethopia around 800 AD, it was proliferated in the Arab world (more on coffee origin in another post), and it spread and grew from there.

However, here began the abuse that the “powerful” nations of the time instilled with horrible practices that would last centuries.

A snap shot of this can be seen in the Brazilian population in the mid 19th century which grew to one-third slaves, over a million slaves in forced labor.

Then in Guatemala –the indigenous (Mayan Toltec) people destroyed and forced into “penal colonies”

For the most part where coffee went—slave labor and human abuse followed

Telling a Different Story

Starbucks™ Shared Planet™ is the banner of our focused initiatives in the core areas where we have the biggest influence – ethical sourcing, environmental stewardship and community involvement.

One big piece of our story in global conservation is through our ethical sourcing—how we buy and do business with coffee suppliers.

There are 5 major components of Starbucks Ethical Sourcing

First paying a premium price that high quality Arabica coffee deserves.

  • Arabica coffee isn’t about a geographical location but a species of high altitude coffee typically grown 1500 feet and above.
  • Arabica makes up for 60% of the global purchase of coffee.
  • While Robusta beans makes up 40%. Robusta beans are grown because they are easier to maintain and are cheaper, however, they are incredibly inferior in taste and flavor profile.
  • Our goal is to have a win-win and build long-term relationships.

The second component is providing affordable credit.

  • Coffee is a seasonal crop; coffee farmers often experience a shortage of cash before their harvests.
  • We support non-profits and other organizations that provide affordable credit to farmers allowing them not to abandon their crop or sell before the coffee crop peak, increasing their overall profit.

Third component is Ethical Buying Guidelines

  • A big part of initial work with the non-profit Conservation International was creating ethical buying guidelines as well as farmer practices.
  • We call them by the acronym C.A.F.E practices standing for Coffee and Farmer Equity practices.
  • Which have 24 social and environmental criteria with more than 200 indicators that are inspected by third parties. (99% of our coffee is now ethically sourced as of 2014).
  • There are 4 parts of our Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices:

The first two per-requisites…

  • Product Quality (it must be high quality Arabica beans that meet our taste standards for each growing region).
  • Economic Accountability –Transparency is essential – suppliers are required to submit evidence of payments made for green coffee (un-roasted) coffee throughout the coffee supply chain, including receipts that show much was directly paid to farmers for their coffee.

The second two are evaluated, measured, and can have the help of Farmer Support Centers.

  • Social Responsibility – which includes creating humane working conditions, protecting the rights of workers, paying minimum wage and addressing any child or forced labor/discrimination issues.
  • Environmental leadership—measures must be in place to manage waste, protect water quality, conserve water and energy, preserving biodiversity and reducing chemical use.
  • The fourth part of Ethical sourcing is a focus on organic and certified organic. Which is the when no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers were used during the growing process.
  • Organic farming aims to develop ecosystems capable of managing pests, diseases, and competing vegetation naturally.
  • It can be incredibly expense and farmers can lose up to half their production converting to certified organic, all the while meeting Starbucks taste standards. However, organic practices are constantly used when growing coffee and seeking improvement that’s sustainable and healthy.

The fifth part of Ethical Sourcing of Coffee is our continued partnership with Conservation International.

  • Starbucks in 1998 began a relationship with the globally recognized non-profit Conservation International.
  • We continue to develop projects to tackle global climate change and protect surrounding environments where coffee is grown; they do this with calculated and focused projects on a very large scale.
  • Starbucks and first teamed on a project in Mexico in one of there natural reserves to protect 300,000 acres of rainforest and a rich coffee growing community.
  • Part of that is using practices to grow Arabica coffee trees in partial shade under the canopy of trees, which is the best environment for supporting bio-diversity as well as the coffee, rather than plowing down the forest.

Fair-trade

The goal of Fair-Trade certification is to:

  • Empower smallholder farmers belonging to cooperatives to invest in farms and communities.
  • Protect the environment.
  • Develop the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  • We are the largest purchaser of Fair-Trade Certified Coffee in the specialty coffee world.

The reason not all of Starbucks coffee is fair-trade certified is multi-fold.

  • Fair-trade deals largely just with Co-operatives and the development of Farmers in Cooperatives (though there are initiatives for smallholder farms they are starting).
  • Fair-trade covers one section of the coffee bean journey while Starbucks has a holistic approach that goes throughout from seed to cup and out into communities.
  • 99% of Starbucks coffee was certified by a third party as been ethically sourced with C.A.F.E. practices in 2014.
  • We also have opened up how we source our coffee to the coffee world at large and it has laid a foundation for third wave coffee.

Shared Planet Wrap Around

  • Where we buy our food is one of our largest and loudest political, social, and environmental votes we can take everyday. It matters.
  • I want encourage debate, conversation, and education. This is just an intro, and I am still learning.

It’s bigger than coffee, but coffee is where we connect.

Links to explore more:

Future posts will cover: Coffee History, How to Taste Coffee, Different Brew Methods.

Silent Spectators

tape over mouth, silenced, voice

This week’s blog will focus on the subtle virus of silence.  My aim is to direct our attention to what huge portions of our western culture participate in and to spur on dialogue about what could be different about our society.  I am looking for your voice in this conversation!

 

Many institutions and cultural structures have contaminated and stupefied the masses with speechlessness.  This silent spectating is the fruit of giving up our voices for the sake of being under the standard of the “pastors,” “preachers,” “teachers” and “prophets” of our day.  This is considered a cultural norm.

 

I ask you to respond to one question as you read this blog and share your thoughts in the comment section below:

 

Have you ever wanted to speak out and be heard, and, if so, what would you say?

 

Unfortunately your voice has no place to go.  This gapingvoid of your voice is common throughout our cultures institutional structures.  This virus of silence is specifically prevalent in the North American church building, though the virus spreads into many other realms of education, business, politics, and religion.  I will write specifically on the religious institution today.

 

My writings reflect a need to challenge what is accepted as normal and I hope to persuade you to speak out as well.  The fact is, the institutions of religion are dysfunctional and unrelatable at their core.

 

I want to pause here for a moment  and have you consider a couple things–

 

  • Have you participated in institutions that require little to no personal engagement on your part, but take resources from you (time, energy, $)?

 

  • Do you have something deep in your heart that you have wanted to voice?

 

  • Have there been points in your life where people in institutions stifled your voice, expressions, opinions?

 

I am not writing to assault people, but, to reiterate, the forms we accept as the norm and to encourage new dialogue about how our culture interacts.

 

Looking into the institution of the church in America, which I have personal experience participating in the past.

 

A common Sunday proceeds like clock work, the masses flood into the institutional religious buildings and silence ensues among the multitudes.

Their focus, their energy goes to the one…

God?

No.

The Pastor.

Just to the one, a man the system recognizes as the voice to the masses.

The masses listen.

Yet the coldness they are left with is the void of their voice.

A void of relational dialogue.

A void of communion.

A void of their individual contribution.

A void of challenges that will never emerge to meet another’s opinion and voice, sharpening and refining each other in the process.

Never to rise, always to sit.

That is their destiny in the system.

 

This lacking of a face to face interaction is the consequence of attending a service made out of invisible boundaries separating the speakers from the masses.  What will we do about it? What can we do about it?  Start with what’s in front of you.

 

Face the people.

Face the people in your life that you work with, live with, and meet up with on a daily basis.

Face them and begin a dialogue.

Start to exchange ideas, challenges, theories, and experiences.

 

When you face someone in relationship, you begin to see into their soul and they see into yours.  You begin to have an exchange that brings nutrients to your soul.  In this type of interaction you can be met with challenges, encouragements, love and the fruit is seen in growth and depth of perspective.

 

Yet, we are as a cultural whole like flies on dung piles perching on the pews of the past. Refusing to give up forms that no longer hold function.

 

Will we rise to meet those around us?

 

Will our voices come forth to engage in dialogue that affects our culture’s future?

 

While the masses commit their time, energy and money towards these institutions, they are giving, but not getting, anything substantial in this exchange.

 

Now, what if things were different?

 

What if our culture had community expressions bursting with entrepreneurial insight, helpful activism, creativity, art, and relationship?

 

Let’s take the first step together, share your voice in comment section: Have you ever wanted to speak out and be heard, and if so what would you say?

 

To a different drum beat,

 

Jimmy

 

Song of the Sea – Movie Review

Song of the Sea Review

Tomm Moore follows up his academy award winning film Secret of Kells with a fresh and inspiring animated film that intertwines the spiritual myths and celtic beliefs of Ireland with a truly dazzling story. Though the film takes it’s time to unravel, the fluidity of the animation is a real spiritual experience that takes you on a visual journey into the myth of the selkies (a mystical person who bridges the spirit and natural worlds).

Song of the Sea 

Song of the Sea has opened a new door in design and production. This is perhaps one of the best animations of the past decade. Fresh design, alluring music, all around innovative, engaging and charming story that intertwines celtic mystical ideals with everyday issues and the pains of losing loved ones.

It is a story of a young girl Saoirse (SEER-SHA) and her older brother Ben. Saoirse looks to find her voice and free the spiritual mythical creatures –and restore the land and spirit realm.

It’s celtic adventure full of child like wonder and aged wisdom.

Though you will have to look up to see if their is a showing near you, this film is gaining some attention and starting to spread it’s magic. I highly recommend the film! 10/10.

 

Song of the Sea Facebook – updates posted here

 

2015 Update

It has been a long time since I have updated the Ecstatic Expression with posts. I wanted to bring everyone up to date with some of my journey and set a tone for what some of my future writings this year will hold on Ecstatic Expression.

This blog will be a bit longer than usual so I can get you all caught up. A little bit of a re-cap to those who are new to Ecstatic Expression.Ecstatic Expression is an artistic and entrepreneurial company that I started in 2012. This first year consisted of me introducing my products to the web and communities across the country. I painted growler jars, canvases, doors, as well as creating in-home designs with on ceramic tiles for the backsplash of a kitchen. In addition to painting, I started basic WordPress web design, video promotional, and photo journals of my adventures around the cities and wilderness areas around the country.

Some of my highlights from 2012 were traveling with Back to Eden Group-School on Wings and Encompassed by Dreams. As the year came to a close I was in a place of taking the first year of artistry and entrepreneurship to the next level. I knew I needed to grow in business and artistry acumen, and took an active approach to my development in the Back to Eden Group S.E.E. mentoring program.

John and Katherine, the directors of Back to Eden Group and coaches of S.E.E. helped lead me to pursue long term career goals and build into different and diverse skill sets. I took up a position in Starbucks Corporation in addition to traveling and working with Ecstatic Expression, as part of the training and was soon promoted to shift supervisor as I applied the principles I was learning.

One of the theme principles was “What am I doing with what I have in my hands?” A question that should inspire anyone to invest the raw materials of their life (time, $, relationships, etc) with intention.

I spent a year in a high volume downtown Denver Starbucks learning and growing as a leader, manager and business person. I continued to speak and teach at public events and launched a successful entrepreneurial event in Denver with John, Katherine, and Caleb.

I again was encouraged to contemplate “What do I with what I have in my hands?” After serious thought my sister Gia and I began to plan what it would look like for me to move to LA and be part of the next phase of growing her business. Gia runs a wedding and fine art photography company and I would be stepping into a studio manager role as I worked with her.

So I made plans to visit and after a week of working and talking with Gia and her husband Matt. I decided it was time to uproot and move to LA to pursue the next level of development and opportunity as an artist and business person.

Now in LA I am working at Gia Canali Photography and continuing on with Starbucks. I am getting settled and as I do I want to bring some of the lessons and stories from my creative entrepreneurial journey to the web community. I plan to write monthly and look forward to keeping a pulse on the social networks this year. Look to see new posts and upcoming blogs https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticexpression.

Cheers,

Jimmy

Sunset in hollywood

Photo from Burbank, CA