But I’m Just a Server

waiter-1490043-1279x1705

Let’s have a quick “get to know the voice” moment. My name is Tobin and I am a foodie. This is a qualifying statement so that you can know that the soliloquy I am about to launch into comes with years of back-story and passion.

I am 4+ years removed from food and beverage, where once I held the keys to 4 separate kingdoms. I was the F&B Manager at a prestigious golf club, and Assistant General Manager at a fine dining steak house, a General Manager at a Michelin recognized seafood restaurant and a partner in a bar and grill in San Francisco. For 15 years, I toiled in the service industry making sure that people’s lofty expectations were met while simultaneously struggling with my own internal “is this it?” soul searching. Eventually I wrote myself out of the industry with my book “What Seems To Be the Problem (a Restaurant Managers Tale)”, but I have since been compelled to inspire other foodies to realize that what you do to keep the lights on does not always define you as a person.

Why then is this a topic being explored here on The Crayon Initiatives blog site?

Well as a representative of TCI, our largest contributor to our goal is the restaurant business. One of the sparks that ignited our plight came from a restaurant table and wondering just where do the sorry, broken and rubbed down nubs of crayons end up after the 10 and unders are done gnawing on them, rubbing them into carpets and dropping them into their ketchup. When we started to peel back the layers of damage to our environment by simply dropping them in the trash at the end of a busy shift, we realized that something had to be done. That call to action resulted in the design and construction of our deposit boxes that could be left at the hostess stand of any restaurant for the deposit and regular gathering of these sad little crayons at the end of their life. By starting here, we knew we could gather enough crayons to recycle into brand new crayons for distribution to Children’s Hospitals all over the Country.

Here is where you the server come in. It has been my experience that at some point in most servers’ career, they start to desire something more fulfilling than delivering food and drinks. On the whole, servers are deeply caring individuals that are really aware of carbon footprints and the deeply rooted desire to please others. Why else would they practice their craft daily? The joy received from delivering a nice night out needs to be harvested and often time duplicated, but how? After all, you’re just a server, right? WRONG!

As far as we are concerned you are our liaison. Next time you go to any restaurant, be it yours or a favorite place to dine, take a quick glance around for one of our collection boxes. If there is not one there, you have just found the answer to “how can I make a difference?”

You can contact us directly to explore the options on how to get The Crayon Initiative involved with your restaurant. Once the unassuming and subtle boxes are posted in a centralized location, you can bring the message to your tables. Let them know that you have been proactive about the concerns with used crayons going into the landfills and are currently collecting them so they can be given new life in the hands of those that need them most. Behind the scenes, we can work out all the details.

Never sell yourself short of the potential that you have and never rest on the laurels that there is nothing you can do. There certainly is a way to make a deep impact and it all starts with you!

Contact us through this website! We can’t wait to find out how together we can make a real difference.

How Long Is a Minute?

 

clock-1466392-1600x1200

I never really took the time to think about “time” quite the way I do now that I am a parent, but I wish I had. I really do believe that an elaborate dissertation could be crafted around the interpretation of a “minute”. The bottom line is that it is the exact amount of time that it takes to change the world on a scale from a personal to global. Let’s take it down a peg first.

Here is how my mind operates. I get a moment of peace and calm in my day where my mind has not quite stopped firing and something seeps in that sets fire to my creative side. Here is that moment that led to this blog. When I am putting my kids down, I have figured out that after their little bodies have stopped moving and the eyes are closed (sometimes assumed closed), I have three minutes until deep sleep sets in, or at least deep enough for me to execute the ninja moves that it takes to get out of a dark room, riddled with obstacles, undetected. There is seldom a clock nearby that allows me to cheat the process so I count (in my head) three 60-second sets. Those 60 seconds are an eternity when the adult’s only portion of my day lay on the other side. Seriously, do it now. Stop reading and count 1-60 Mississippi. You had no idea did you?

But there is no other measurement of time quite like the minute. A “second” is far too fast to encompass total power and an “hour” is an eternity no matter where your vantage point lies, but “the minute” can mean so many things to so many people.

There is the “teenager on the phone minute” when they are being called to by a parent in the home…”I’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE!” That is really like saying “you are number four on the priority list for the day”.

OR there is the “I’ll be there in a minute” when a girlfriend calls and says she thinks she hears somebody downstairs. You can’t possibly move faster than that.

There is the “they were just babies a minute ago” when you turn around and are celebrating your child’s 10th birthday.

OR there is the “they just started sleeping through the night this minute” which took a total of one thousand years to reach.

The reality is that everything…EVERYTHING boils down to one minute or the time that it truly takes to make life changing decisions or reactions. We arrive at the monumental minutes by stringing together many of them as a path, but ultimately the trigger time is a minute.

In our world of what we do, the minute is no different. We can choose to throw away that crayon or we can choose to figure out how to breathe new life into it. Think about the difference of those two minutes, because we have. On one hand, you can pitch the crayon into the trash and never see it, or think of it again, but that crayon will go on to rue your decision. It will go to a landfill and try to blend in for the next one hundred plus years ultimately unchanged, OR, you can locate the nearest Crayon Initiative box and drop it in there. Here you not only get the chance to possibly see that crayon again but certainly the opportunity to think about what your decision meant to a child in a hospital bed just trying to get well. Going back to our friend “the minute”, this is the exact amount of time it takes for a little body to turn the tables on its illness. In one minute, the internal fight is a losing one, then in the next, systems have been boosted, spirits have been raised and outlooks have improved. The possibility of creating that minute through art has been medically proven and all we aim to do is load the toolbox.

Think about “the minute” the next time the word crosses your lips and realize that 60 seconds is a very powerful amount of time. Worlds have crumbled and futures have been made possible all inside that tiny, seemingly insignificant amount of time.

 

Art Does Heal

face-paint-2-998822-m

The process of gathering crayons and recycling them is a multi-tiered process with truly measurable positive outcomes. On this blog, we have explored how we keep them out of our landfills and save the planet one colorful paraffin stick at a time, but the driving force is the medical miracles that can happen when a brand new, shiny crayon is in the hands of those that need them most.

Once our crayons have been gathered, sorted, melted, strained, molded and boxed, they go directly into the hands of the patients in Children’s Hospitals around the country. This is more than a “nice-to-have” for these kids that need the power of the rainbow so badly. We give them the tools to create that rainbow, and art has been proven to heal scientifically. Here is how:

Structure

Nurses and Doctors all over the country have been interviewed about their experience with inner hospital art programs and the effects they have had with their patients. The majority of personnel have reported that the structure being taught through art has helped the patients with their medication regimen as well as given them something to look forward to on a daily basis. The simple structure of art-time gives the child a sense of schedule and anticipation. The eagerness to create has dulled the edge of getting them to take their medications as the creative side and medical side get fed simultaneously. Nurses have also noted the depletion of stress in an art heavy department and Doctors site a lower readmission rate of patients involved in art programs.

Escape

Whether the child artist is sitting at home on their bed drawing, at a desk in school painting or in the oncology ward in their local hospital coloring, they are all united in a world far away when they get to open up their imagination. This escape is especially important to the child who is in a hospital setting. The desire to leave a confined area is never greater than when you know you can’t, but the imagination of a child is a powerful thing. When a child gets drawn into the world they are creating through art they come back feeling like they have been on a small trip. They had a reprieve, if only for a moment, from the realities of being in the hospital. They got to see magical things that exist only on their own personal canvas, and they did it without changing their gowns and often refreshed enough to face the next challenge. This alone is the magic of art.

Many hospitals have formal art programs, where actual professionals come in direct the children. Many of these directors are actually therapists that use art to allow hidden fears, anxieties, and trepidation to come to the surface so that they can be dealt with. The message that these patients receive before the crayon even hits the paper is that they are not alone and that there are people that care about their emotional well-being, and are available to help when they are ready.

Iva Fattorini, chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Global Arts and Medicine Institute, says, “The arts create this communication channel. The hospital becomes home to some people. What do we actually do to address the emotional needs of people living in that hospital? How do we change their state of mind and perception of the hospital?” She continues “What we know is that art is not a commodity; it’s really a necessity,” she continues. “It’s really about infusing some beauty and spiritual values in the arts to people whose spirits needs to be uplifted. If good emotions and energy are transmitted through good art, it doesn’t matter where (patients) are, or who they are. It does help.”

When the thought of The Crayon Initiative came into our mind, we were flooded with directions that we could take it. The possibilities of positivity were endless and still are, but as the model began to take focus we realized that the people that needed to prosper the most from this endeavor are the very users of these waxy tools, and there are no better builders than those that are attempting to re-build themselves. Our hope is that one of our crayons will create the rainbow unicorn that will keep a child smiling tomorrow through the challenges they face today.

The Environmental Impact of Our Friend the Crayon

 

Green Crayon

 

For most of us, the very first art gift that we were given was a crayon. As we begin to have little’s of our own, we celebrate the day that we get to present them with their own box of infinite possibilities and creation.

 

As time passes, and the children grow with every feverish picture, we become privy to the sad last little nub of the crayon that had an arguably illustrious career. Oh, the things that this tiny, non-useable nub, has created. Purple monsters, blue ducks, space adventures or sea voyages cut short by pirates flying the Jolly Roger. You have done well little nub, but your time is up and I must replace you. Or even sadder is the crayon just removed from the box that promptly breaks in that one mathematical junction that renders the two crayon halves cumbersome and challenging to use. This crayons life has ended before it has begun. Never will this crayon live up to the potential that it was intended for. Without much of a thought, we declare these crayons “unfit”, so into the bin with you both.

 

If the advances and progress that our environmentally aware public has made are to be true, we owe it to our planet as well as ourselves to stop and ask, “where do these used and broken creators of dreams go to?” Certainly we understand that the garbage bin is not a magical portal that will break down our crayons on a molecular level, thereby erasing their existence. As a matter of fact, their journey has just begun.

 

Traditional crayons are sticks of paraffin wax, which is a by-product of petroleum or crude oil. Paraffin wax, colored pigments, and often other byproducts, are combined to make crayons.

This wax is NOT biodegradable. It is true that in the right type of environmental factors, crayons can break down over time with the assistance of bacteria, but the number one factor necessary for this to happen over a double digit to multi-century process is exposure to air. Now, admittedly, I have never personally been buried in a landfill, but I am willing to bet that there is little to no air flow under the heaps of other garbage and earth. Therefore, the breakdown process for crayons can take 100’s of years. In addition, crayons mixed with by-products can cause low-carbon pollution.

More than 12 Million Crayons are made in the United States every day! Every 100 new crayons equal about 1 pound, which totals out to 120,000 pounds of being manufactured and distributed daily. Just for the record and to put more of a “WHAT” factor in place, that is 60 tons of petroleum-based paraffin wax that will eventually find their way to landfills. We estimate that roughly between 45,000 and 75,000 pounds of broken crayons are discarded in landfills throughout the country annually.

 

This is a travesty and should be taken into consideration, and most certainly one of the cornerstones that The Crayon Initiative was built on.

 

Let’s go back to our tiny little nub that has served us so well, but this time, let us realize that by throwing him or her into the bin for simple disposal is only the beginning of its life here on the planet. Wouldn’t that life be better served as a recycled form of their glory days and in the hands of a deserving child that can realize all the potential of sea and space voyages for a whole new block of time? Not only do we believe this, but also every child’s movie ever made about inanimate objects would agree.

 

After they are created, crayons sole purpose in life, is to bring imagination to life, and they are designed to do so for decades, certainly not live under a pile of other household trash for centuries.

 

So remember the next time it’s time to buy new crayons, we should take into consideration that we are merely renting them.