Building Bridges for U-District Youth

When I began training to be the next General Manager of Chaco University, one aspect I was the most excited about was taking on some community activism projects.

First, I wanted to settle into meeting members of the U-District community.

I took several walks around the neighborhood when I first started commuting from central Seattle.
Almost immediately, I noticed a disproportionately large number of homeless and disenfranchised youth on the streets of the U-district.

I thought, there must already be a great deal of effort going into helping this group of people find stability in their life.

I hoped that if I joined the people working on this that I could add a unique skill set. I wanted to use my resources to diversify and expand the scope of the work that they were doing.

I connected with several people at the annual stakeholder’s meeting with the U-District Partnership’s Buisness Improvement Area (BIA). I met folks working with U-Heights and ROOTS Young Adult Shelter. They were involved in working on improving the lives of homeless youth.

Roots

A few short weeks later, I was at a meeting with those same key people. We began hammering out the details for a homeless youth job placement program, hosted by ROOTS. We hashed out some initial details on doing outreach to other businesses with entry level work force needs. Then we outlined the creation of a pilot program for having light, general work training and UDP/City of Seattle wage compensation put in place. We were going to facilitate the push for these businesses to take on U-district youth as employees.

This project represents not only my personal drive to be a part of the community I work in, but the desire of the Chaco Family to be an active force for improvement in our communities.

There are many areas of my new post as General Manager at Chaco University that I am extremely excited about. The food and drink,

The amazing internal community that makes up the Chaco Family.

Our ability to drive forward sustainable, organic agriculture in Washington. Still, helping those in need in the greater U-District community is one area I feel most called to.

I’m really looking forward to continuing this work and to meeting many more wonderful members of the University District community. I’m excited to meet you all and build amazing things here!

Avalon Zanoni
Manager, U-District
Chaco Canyon Cafe

Choose Chaco Canyon Cafe for Heart of Seattle Award

There are a LOT of awards and recognition out there for businesses. Especially for restaurants.

Some are good, like Seattle Weekly’s annual poll – Chaco just got second place to Café Flora for best Vegetarian. Other awards are just spread around with no real meaning or actual achievement necessary. Awards like those handed out by Yelp and Zagat.
But then there are unique awards and recognition that go beyond good food. We get really excited about these kinds of awards at Chaco Canyon.

Last month, I wrote about the honors we received from 2013 Green Washington Award and the 2014 Recycler of the Year Award.

Earlier this year, we received our first international recognition as one of the

Top 10 Eco-Eateries

by Green Market Movers in the U.K.

I’m proud to announce, we’re up for another great award. Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe has been selected as one of only 15 finalists for the Heart of Seattle Award! The total pool of nominations was over 500 local businesses and nonprofits, and we have made it through to the final round of voting. This is a great honor, and something that is made for Chaco Canyon!
The Heart of Seattle Award is the brainchild of the renowned Chinook Book. The focus of the award is, “designed to recognize Seattle retail and service businesses that set a high bar for what good business should be…local businesses with stellar social and environmental priorities, ethical business practices, happy employees, and loving customers.”

 

We knew we had to apply as soon as we were notified about the award and read what it was dedicated to honoring. Furthermore, we thought we had a good shot of being recognized. Chaco Canyon embodies these traits and were founded upon them.

Vote Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe for the heart of seattle award
Vote Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe

 

 

So, please CLICK HERE to VOTE!

This one literally takes 15 seconds. You don’t need to enter an email address or sign up for anything. In addition to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, there are some other great businesses to laud and vote for, including two of our great community partners: Bootyland and Seattle ReCreative.
Please consider supporting Chaco for this award, we would love to be highly considered for this great community award for all we do!

 

Chris Maykut
Proud Owner
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes

Moving Beyond Green

togo wear and silverwear

 

In the days before I first opened Chaco Canyon in 2003, I found myself shopping for the last items we needed to be ready.

I came to the section with disposable utensils and paused for some time. This was in the dark ages before compostable was an option so we’re talking rigid plastic, single-use utensils.  I just couldn’t do it, and made a hurried trip to Goodwill to stock up on silverware to hand out to people until I could come up with a better idea.

A funny thing happened as we pondered a better plan: the ad-hoc one worked great for everyone.  Nine out of ten customers, when offered the option of a piece of silverware, said that they had a fork or spoon in the car or office, and they didn’t need anything.  Those that took them tended to come back and return their fork (great for retention), and most everyone understood that – while this was an admittedly weird system – they appreciated not feeling guilty for using a manufactured item from a far-flung country once and then tossing it into the waste stream.

Put this system side by side with the “normal” thing to do in the restaurant industry: putting a disposable fork, spoon and napkin (and knife and chopsticks….) in every bag, just to make sure everyone absolutely gets utensils.  Taking the time to ask everyone who gets something to go, and explaining that they can actually take utensils (or bamboo chopsticks) takes a lot more time and effort, but one of the main differentiators between a business that is “green” and one that has in its mission to have Zero Impact on the planet someday.

We’ve saved over a half million single-use utensils from production and disposal just by making this simple choice – that’s a good start.

Choosing not to have disposable utensils, and dozens of other ‘unusual’ behaviors and choices we make every day at Chaco Canyon, are what makes us unique and special.  It’s why we won the 2013 Green Washington Award and the 2014 Recycler of the Year Award for small businesses, as well as many other accolades and awards throughout the years.

WSRA

The sustainability and zero impact ethos permeate the café, from myself to the staff, to our customers and out into the city.  One of our staff recently contacted me to let me know that, as part of a bridal planning committee, she was assigned to buy a bunch of one-time use Solo cups for the reception.   “The environmentalist in me cringed”, she stated, and then asked if Chaco could buy some re-usable cups for her to bring to the wedding, and then put them into use at the cafes afterwards as water cups.  Of course we can!  I love our staff.

Working for a sustainable planet has changed over the last 30 years.  Recycling and composting are no longer the hallmark of environmentalism; they are the base expectation to start from.  Thanks to smart local legislation around Styrofoam and plastic bags, Seattle is a true leader in the movement for a sustainable planet.  We as a community should keep pushing for more, better, and weirder solutions to loving our planet.  What are you doing in your house?

 

Chris Maykut
Proud Owner
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafes