Facebook email RSS Feed 


A short description about your blog
Jun 04

Soul at Work cafe: Ann-Marie Harrington

Posted by Michelle Gonzalez in Untagged 

Michelle Gonzalez
User Rating: / 0

The question I had to ask was, “what is your next challenge, you Ann-Marie, not the company?” The raw response: “Working less hours on the work that kills me…” the work, I would call “do-do” work. (Moms and dog owners you know what I mean) Sometimes the work you love shifts. You get older, you take on responsibilities and well…it is just another euphemism for a “distraction” as those heavy duty obligations take over. So what do you love? And how can you get more of it and play in your work? That theme - return on value and doing what you love - became a clear thread in our conversation.

Oh yeah, did I mention conversation? Yes, really listening, coming up with our own words that matter to what we long for and want to create. Some of the women, even wondered what is a “hobby”, anyway? Clearly, doing what you love leaves no time…except playtime that matter to you. Miscellaneous, time-passing “past-times” didn’t work for these women. Read on about the key themes we honored in our conversation…convening…connecting:

Many of us stayed until well into the night, Michelle Girasole of The Sassy Ladies, Karen Of Pinnacle Peformance, Elizabeth of Pan Zhai Chinese Antiques and I shut New Commons down at 11:00 pm…wow! Lots of conversation about work, people, kids, companies and well, China! I’ll post more as soon as I get the notes, but from memory this is what I took home:

  • Growing to the next stage is more than an evolution - it is listening to what matters: being an “instinct listener” and acting on it.
  • How to make “work” work was about discipline and trust in the process, and creating the conditions, and place, for ownership for all. It is more than a “piece of the finances” but an ethos of accountability in the work.
  • Being a “socialist-capitalist” - it isn’t an “either/or”, but an ”and-both”. Who the heck made these definitions as opposing? Ann-Marie showed how her focus on adding value and listening to her social consciousness lead to a more robust bottom line. And guess what, this isn’t “corporate philanthropy” or “responsibility”. Her practice was honest, to paraphrase, “What do I care about? Let me and my company act on it…Why? Because it matters…and guess what? I am still going to analyze my revenue, project goals out for the year and say no to potential customers that may not meet the company’s social values.”
  • A suggestion to Ann-Marie’s challenge of trying to work more “life” into her life as a business owner: how about just aspiring for one minute or one hour to do nothing. That is right, nothing! Cool.

Okay, I am a bit tired at 12:45am, but did I capture the essence? Did I tell you the fun we had?? Whew, If you were at the cafe, what else did I miss? Comment, tell us what you learned from the cafe, what were your a-ha moments, and what else are you going to take away and how will you apply it to your leader-ful practice?

Special plug:

  • Read “Write it down, make it happen” by Henriette Anne Klauser and well, believe in it “god damn it”.
  • Listen to the virtual book tour and pod cast with Wendy Hanson of The Sassy Ladies and at 4:00 pm on Thursday, June 5 with Jeanna and Eva, co-authors of the “Mastering the Law of Attraction” in the Chicken Soup for the Soul “Life Lessons” series. Do check it out.
  • Aperion Institutes’s Bekhah reminded us of the up coming Sustainable Living Fest 2008 on Saturday June 7 and 8th. If you are in RI you’ve got to go!! Check it out here

Of course, there’s lots more, so please add to this and tell me what you thought of Soul at Work with Ann-Marie!



Comments from migrated blog:

  • Wendy Hanson // Jun 5, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Thanks for a fabulous night! Anne Marie was passionate, inspiring and so full of integrity. It was great! The Virtual Book Tour with the authors of Life Lessons for Mastering the Law of Attraction is today, June 5th at 4:00pmEST. Jeanna Gabellini and Eva Gregory will share some wonderful stories and the 7 essential ingredients for living a prosperous life. The Bridgeline: 712.421.8476 Pin 7777# . The call will also be podcasted on The Sassy Ladies website next week-
    Thanks again Michelle!

  • Michelle Girasole // Jun 5, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Michelle, THANK YOU for another refreshing event for women. You continue to inspire me with the people you pull together to have “conversations that matter”.

    Ann-Marie, thank YOU for sharing your story, and triggering a wonderful discussion about so many topics that are important to women (and men, too, of course.) You are a role-model, for sure.

    My biggest takeaway is a realization of an under-current of pressure (self-induced or otherwise) to be overachievers. Just because women tend to be good at multi-tasking, doesn’t mean we have to do it 24/7, right? I LOVE the “seed” that went up on the board: “Aspire to Nothing”.
    Nothing! Aaaahhhhhh…….

    So, I’m making a declaration. I’m making plans to do NOTHING in the month of August. Let’s make August national “Aspire to Nothing” month. (Hey, if the Europeans can do it, why can’t we?

    Who’s with me?!?!

  • Dale Donnelly // Jun 10, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Ann-Marie, you are another women to step outside her comfort zone and create her life her way. What an awe inspiring look into what can happen with focus, dedication and hutspa. The instincts that you talked about resonated very strongly with me. You’re talking about your roll from a creative driving force to a leader and how that has changed over the years was very interesting. Thank you for all your valuable insights.

    Michelle, yet another woman to be inspired by. You sure do know how to put together a wonder forum for information and conversation. Thank you for your ” soul work”.

  • Melissa Kearns // Jun 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    I’m sorry I had to miss Ann-Marie’s presentation. From Michelle’s summary and your comments, it sounds like the event was again filled with inspiring and energizing conversation. I hope to be there for the next Cafe. See you then!

May 14

The Academy wants to hear from you

Posted by Michelle Gonzalez in Untagged 

Michelle Gonzalez
User Rating: / 0

We have been running the Academy since December 2007 as a University Without Walls…open to all and engaging conversation…so to speak. We piloted a few programs ranging from Web 2.0, Cash Flow Management, to Resilience Planning & Process. This diverse selection only represents a small portion of what we have been researching and can share with you about what the 21st century is demanding from people who lead and work in businesses, non-profits, government, and communities.

Many folks are finding that the way to lead in organizations with the talent and skills to bring involve more organic, change agentry, facilitation skills and less of the mechanistic, expert, directive oriented skills we had in the 20th century.

We want to hear from you: What other better thinking and doing do you want to learn and apply to prepare you for our current and emerging challenges? Let us know today! Comment below.

Mar 05

Soul at Work cafe: Amy Kalafa

Posted by Michelle Gonzalez in Untagged 

Michelle Gonzalez
User Rating: / 0
Fortunately, Rhode Island mandate of Title 16 (signed in 2005) is doing its part to help school districts to meet a new provision in the Federal Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. What that means is all school districts start a Wellness Committee to make positive changes through a nutrition & physical activity policy and get our schools to be healthier learning communities! Wow, first there is the data, now there is legislation, and plenty of public health organizations working on this, but it just isn’t happening.

The issue is implementation: it is difficult to change a system that depends on school lunches, candy/ cookie drives, for revenue. It is challenging to change our American culture and people who are brought up eating products rather than real food. And it is tough to get rid of the companies that supply “products” for profit out of the schools. And that is where Amy’s film comes in- to showcase the battle and that we are not alone in wanting this change to occur soon…it will take two million angry moms before systemic change is made, but we can do this locally one at a time! That is what her film demonstrates though facts, following another woman’s campaign to get her school to change, and the determined teachers, parents, administrators and food providers who get on board to offer real solutions.

Back to our Soul at Work cafe: The movie inspired an intense conversation among the diverse women in the audience, who included mothers, teachers, nutritionist, school wellness committee members, entrepreneurs, and other “self-starters”, as Amy observed. The topics discussed uncovered so many important issues that mattered to these women:

  • How to make change within a resistant school system
  • How branding yourself as “Angry” can really make a splash and gain attention
  • Why food is thy medicine and how connecting with food source can lead to a renewal in our lifes
  • What resources are available to parents and those within the school system to help facilitate change to a healthier menu
  • When you combine your talents and your passion, you can find your life purpose.

A feature of the Soul at Work Cafe is to highlight women leading in their own way, as Amy did by making her film. A benefit is that the women who attend leave inspired, educated, and connected with a few more women who can help them along their unique paths.

Soul at Work cafe attendees wanted to continue the conversation here! Regardless, if you attended the cafe or missed it, give us your comments, recommendations, insights and aspirations to the following:

  • Upon seeing the film or listening to Amy’s story what were your A-ha! moments?
  • What are your next action steps?
  • Link other books, films or sites that you resonant with this topic?
  • How did Amy’s persistence and approach in showing solutions inspire you in your work? What are you talents or capabilities and if linked with your passion what purpose would unfold?
  • Tell us about an important food memory for you?

If you missed the event, take peek of a film clip in our media section or go to Amy’s website for more viewing and resources on the movement to make our schools healthier learning communities.


Comments from migrated blog:

  • Frymaster // Mar 6, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Here’s a blog post by Amy on Huffington Post!

    Gotta show you how to make links. It’s easy.

  • linda dewing // Mar 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    hi all,
    an aha moment for me was seeing how the kids in the schools with the changed lunch programs looked so healthy and glowing. what a treat that is!

    i also highly recommend two books: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollard, showing the movement in our country from thinking about food to thinking about products. and the Food Revolution, by John Robbins (Baskin and Robbins, but what a different view point!). he is meticulous researcher and really tackles, Nader -style, some major food issues in the US and world wide. he is a great writer, also.

  • Gerri Bain // Mar 7, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I so enjoyed the evening with everyone, especially Michelle who is a wonderful facilitator and Amy who did a magnificent job of creating a significant, American documentary. Corporate America has done a disservice to our most precious commodity - our children. And it is a disgrace.

    As a grandmother and wellness advocate, my work centers around helping people to feel better. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables at home at any early age is critical. Advocacy starts in the home. Adults can help children embrace better nutrition and better food choices leading to better long-term health.

    Virtually any health status, good or bad, can be improved by better nutrition, because what you eat affects every cell in your body. Contact me if you’d like to begin the process of ensuring that your family is eating as healthy as possible under the tremendously challenging circumstances of the current market.

    In my own small way, I can help you make the segue to better health with nine simple ways to a healthier family diet.

    Let the nutritional advocacy begin in the home first and foremost!

  • Michelle G // Mar 10, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Check out what Kiersten had to say on her blog. She has an amazing blog called, Kmerica.com Post about Two Angry Moms and what she is going to do in Cranston, RI

  • Dale Ddonnelly // Mar 10, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    I am not a Mom. I am very involved with food in my adult life and was taught about food growing up with a Foods and Nutrition Major from Cornell U, my Mom. Food is and always was an important in our home.
    I had no idea that food in schools had become soooo processed. My schooling days was in the 50s to the early 70s. I have very few questions now as to why there are so many problems with behavior in schools these days. School food is a large part of the problem and a major part of the answer. Amy Kalafa has given us some stellar suggestions as to how to correct our school food programs without breaking the school budget.
    Another part of what I grew up with was that my Father was a great gardener. He literally grew up on a dairy farm. They produced most of what they ate year round. Which brings me to another thought as to the correct food getting to the kids at school.
    If the school kids can learn to eat healthy, can’t they learn to grow healthy food? My suggestion is that there have to be plenty of interested gardeners out there that might want to help kids get to know what it takes to achieve the goal of feeding themselves. Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it is dirty. Yes, it is very satisfying to sit down to a meal that you grow and cook yourself. This may be beyond the curriculum of what many schools want tackle.
    One of the things that Amy talked about was living in New York City and starting a garden on the roof top to grow food for themselves. Maybe you can’t create gardens for every one but maybe you can create a teaching model….with help from the kids.

  • Allan T. // Mar 14, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Michelle, what a great topic for Soul at Work and for RI. I too have been unsettled by the complacence with which we accept the marketing of the lowest order of “food” to our kids. I saw a special on a public school in the Midwest that brought in an executive chef to do organic, local, healthy food that kids loved, and that came in at the cost of the pre-cooked stuff from Sysco. That opened my eyes that the rationale that public
    schools can’t afford to cook healthy is a load of hooey.

    I’ve always wondered why, with J&W in our front yard, we couldn’t do a similar thing with the Providence school district. A matter of will?

    On the positive tip, I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read about Daren Bulley and the “KidsFirst RI program”. Check them out.

  • NCAdmin // Mar 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Allan,
    So glad you posted. Yes KidsFirst is great: I have seen both Dorothy Brayley and Karin Wetherill tirelessly working with RI school district to implement the wellness committee, helping many school cafeterias make the changes the law mandates, helping to train school administrators on what they can do, and basically offering solutions. Because of them I am now on our existing Providence Wellness Committee. Cool!

    On March 27, Karin and staff from FirstKids have been invited by Donnie Evans (Providence Superintendent) and the Jose Gonzalez, Jose Gonzalez, Director of Special Projects in Providence and District Wellness Leader, to conduct a Wellness Workshop to all the Providence Principals. My understanding is that the intent of the workshop is to increase the Principals Food IQ, and clearly define what is law and the implementation policy the Wellness Committee has written. Now getting that into action is the next step, and the meeting will showcase alternatives and solutions.

    “3/27/08: Providence Schools Leadership Team Attends Superintendent Wellness Workshop
    Superintendent Donnie Evans and Jose Gonzalez, Director of Special Projects in Providence and District Wellness Leader, have invited Kids First professionals: Mary-Elena DeLuca, Sandy Sepe and Karin Wetherill, to conduct a wellness workshop for all of the district’s top administrators. This workshop is an interactive program that helps participants improve their own nutrition and food safety habits, and increase their daily physical activity. Workshop topics include “Sweeten Up Your Life Without That Extra Sugar” and “Turn Household Chores into an Exercise Program.” The participants will discuss their district’s wellness policy, learn about the RI Law regarding healthy beverages and snacks in school, obtain great ideas for fund raising and classroom/school celebrations, and hopefully begin to realize that building a district culture of wellness begins with each of them. ”

    Check out their calender for more upcoming activities and workshops as they move to get healthy foods into our schools. by the way they need support on this, including funding. So do support them! Here is the link to learn more

    As a parent I am going to see what unfolds and how I can further help in moving this forward. Anybody else have more to add?

  • Sally // Mar 15, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    sounds like a great night- I am sorry a missed it. I loved the bit of the movie on your website. one “AHA” for me was realizing how scary that moment must be when you realize that your kid is eating tater tots at school. And that your best intentions and all the good food and good influence at home can all be for naught when public policy is working against you.



Join Our E-News


Latest Entry

Contact Us

New Commons
545 Pawtucket Ave, Studio 106A
Mail Box 116
Pawtucket, RI 02860
click here for directions
or street view

+1 401 351 7110 (tel)
+1 401 351 7158 (fax)

email: Info(at)newcommons.com