Tuesday, February 19, 2013

215th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
We Have Been Out of the Caves
Only 12,000 Years


Judi and Merv Wingard already introduced One Can A Week to their neighbors at Academy Village when they asked me to come and make a presentation. They (the neighbors) approved collecting One Can A Week in their monthly executive meeting and opted to ask folks to bring cans to the Community Center rather than going door to door. That interaction seemed like a lot of work to them. Judi on the other hand wanted me to present to her neighbors how the program proves to be the most effective.

After a brief introduction I showed Molly Thrasher’s 10-minute One Can A Week video which got them in the mood. But I don’t explain what the Community Food Bank does or how great the need is. That follows the Henry Ford slide below. Instead I brought up a different, yet quite related subject … attitude.

What I have learned over these past four years of encouraging people to help the hungry is that there is a huge disconnect when it comes to how we humans fit on this beautiful planet and what we should be doing. The crux of the problem is our perception of time.

We moved out of the caves some 12,000 years ago which seems like a long time to most folks … but it is not. So I began there to try to startle the audience in an attempt to help them gain a new prospective.


Sociologists set the generational scale at 25 years but I suggest we look at a linear generational chart based on 100 years. That means since we came out of the caves, one person is born, lives to be 100-years-old and dies. Then the next person is born and so on. We see a lot of 100-year-old people these days making it a quite familiar age.

I asked the question, “Linearly speaking, over the past 12,000 years how many 100-year-old people have lived and died?” I let them calculate for a few seconds, but as confusion creeps across their faces I say. “120 people. You’ve been in longer movie lines. And I have to tell you, I’m now at the 70% mark of one of those one-hundred-year old people and it’s not been very long at all. I feel like I’m just getting on a roll. What do you think? Has it been long for you? Of course not, so why do we think we know anything? Why do we think we know anything at all? And by the way, it doesn’t look like it but there are exactly 120 figures holding hands in the chart.”

This idea of so few lives representing how long we have been highly productive on this planet is astonishing and provocative. A year ago I gave this talk and a person who was there came up to me recently and said, “Do you believe it? Only 120 people.”

A normal 25-year linear generation isn’t much better. It’s 480 people and that number fills a little over half of a full capacity (853 seats) Air Bus 380A.


Now that I have them blinking I talk about the haves and the 80% who have nearly nothing. The top 20% are doing okay but the bottom 80% are sinking fast. Looking at the actual figures brought a hush over the audience, especially that 4.7% number.


To bring my audience back up for air I offered a solution that is just as astounding as the 120-people time gauge. About two months ago Demos, an idea organization in New York City presented a study where minimum wage workers could be paid an annual full time salary of $25,000 and it would only cost 30 cents more every time consumers shopped at their favorite retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.

This idea, too, caused more blinking. How could 30 cents be the solution? Simple. It’s a One Can A Week idea. Lots of folks doing a little all of the time.


Just one of those one-hundred-year-old people ago, Henry Ford was stuck like many of the major retailers are today. They have substantial turnover and many of their workers can’t buy their company’s products.

Mr. Ford shocked the world when he made a purely business decision to raise the wages of his average worker from $2.50 a day to $5.00 a day. This cut his turnover, increased the worker pool and expanded his customer base. Of course, other manufactures followed suit and the middle class was born.

At this point I discussed the need for food and our wonderfully efficient Community Food Bank. One Can A Week is what we can do now to help feed folks—and at the same time—show other neighborhoods that we all have to “Do Something…” to make a better society.

When the talk ended, many are a bit surprised with what they have just heard and their questions proved I may have hit a nerve. “How come we stopped caring for each other?” (Probably the invention of the refrigerator made it unnecessary to share to averted food spoilage.) “How come churches aren’t more involved?” (Probably because pastors pushing parishioners to participate in weekly community service is antithetical to job security.)

Even at the 5 pm social after the presentation the questions continued. This is exactly what I was going for. Only 120 one-hundred-year old people have gone down the linear path before us so we really only know two thing for sure, we can never stop asking questions and we’ve got to “Do Something” to help each other.

Reaching across Broadway
Maen handed me a slip of paper with an email address written on it and suggested I contact the young man. “He’s a good guy,” Maen said. That’s all I needed to know.

Turns out the “good guy” is Davis Perry Bauer, the marketing director for a new U of A initiative called UA Campus Pantry. They want to get involved with One Can A Week to help feed their own needy students and staff. Also he is a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu (åAM) fraternity and they want to donate to the Miles Neighborhood starting next Sunday.

Isn’t it always the way? I was looking to engage the University of Arizona in One Can A Week and they reached out to me.

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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