Monday, June 24, 2013

233rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
“All They Can Say is No”

Way back in my early publishing days in New York City I realized that rejection had to become kind of my frenemy if I wanted to get in the game and try to succeed. “So what’s the worst that can happen?” my brother Craig asked, “All they can say is no? One yes can beat lots and lots of nos.”

The logic was flawless and from that point on I started asking questions looking for that yes and not thinking much about the nos I kept getting.

In early April I called Leigh Jensen Administrative Assistant/Contributions Coordinator for Jim Click Automotive. She suggested I send an email to Mr. Jim Click describing One Can A Week and the kind of help I need for my program.

The email went out the next day and after nearly two month of nothing I thought that’s my no. But I jumped the gun. On June 12th I got one of those surprise email I like so much.

Hello, Peter –

Leigh Jensen here. Mr. Click’s contributions coordinator.

I am wondering if you heard back from anyone in our office on this great program called “One Can A Week”. If not, I would be delighted to follow up on your behalf.I got right back to her with my “No. no one has” answer and some fresh One Can A Week “description copy.”

Leigh wrote back explaining that they get so many requests that things can be tabled for awhile. What I liked and really appreciated was her willingness to take responsibility for making the system work. So many people in the position to help their cause and their company just don’t “say something when they see something.” Leigh’s not like that.

Hi Leigh,

No need to apologize. That’s how the system works. And when it works well, as in this case, it is always a responsible person such as you who moves the “power in the world” forward. Martin Luther King, Jr. had the answer but it took Rosa Parks, my most favorite hero, to make things really happen.

It got silent again but only for two days.


Thank you for all that you are doing to not only provide lots of cans to the food bank, but also your cash contributions. If you and Bill put together a proposal I would be more than happy to send it to the Bashas Family of the Bashas Grocery store, as well as other major chains in Tucson. All they can do is say “no”, but hopefully they won’t. Congratulations on what you have accomplished.

Best regards,
Jim Click, Jr.

Well, Mr. Jim Click, Jr. has the same philosophical approach to initiating ideas as I do. Just knowing that makes this whole experience worthwhile even if we cannot open any new supermarket doors just yet. Notice I said “just yet.”

With Sprouts starting One Can A Week in July, all we need is time and Mr. Jim Click, Jr. on our side. It won’t be long before the other food industry giants start helping hungry kids and their parents every week, too.

UPDATE: Our One Can A Week proposal was emailed to Mr. Jim Click, Jr. Thursday afternoon. Today, Monday at 3:27 pm I got an email saying he had already reviewed and forwarded the proposal to Trey Basha, the CEO of the family owned company.

Interesting. Seems Mr. Click, Jr. and I have something else in common. He, too, is in a hurry to collect as much food as possible for the needy folks here in Arizona.

Map The Meal Gap
Feeding America just came out with a unique interactive county map that shows hunger rates for each and every county in the United States … all 3,143 of them.

Click on the link and scroll over Arizona and then click on Pima County. Not to spoil the bad news for you, but 16.6% of the county is food insecure. That’s 161, 260 folks. The state checks in at 19.1% or 1,237,540 hungry kids and their parents. Now what’s that reason again for why we don’t raise the minimum wage?

We collected a total of 142 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $35.00, a $25.00 check and $10.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 17, 2013

232nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Strong Enough to be Successful,
Too Weak to be Happy
Even over the clatter and whir of the coin separating machine, I could still clearly hear the conversation coming from the regular Rincon Market’s Saturday morning businessmen’s coffee klatch behind me. “What was the return on that investment?” “How much does that cost?” “I’m only into it for $8.000.”

What added to my discomfort and concern with the “nothing but money talk” was the fact that at least two of the gentlemen are off the clock and on the calendar, so to speak. Their wellbeing is in peril and all they can think about is return on investment and a quick vacation trip to Hawaii.

Around noon, right after I placed the Rincon Market food collection on the tables at my home I sit down for a pleasant lunch and casual read of the Huffington Post on the internet machine, as Rachael Maddow often calls it. The first article I perused was “A Call for a Movement to Redefine the Successful Life” written by Alina Tugend. In my current state of mind, this was more than appropriate reading, I thought.

The subject matter centered around a conference presented by Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post. The venue was Ms. Huffington’s new apartment in TriBeCa where over 200 participants jammed into her living room. Of course, TriBeCa is THE place to reside now in Manhattan which is bordered by Canal Street, Park Place and Broadway with terrific Hudson River water front access. Apparently, Ms. Tugend did not miss the irony in the conference location when she mentioned both the upscale neighborhood and the cramped quarters.

In commencement speeches and in her books and online newspaper, Ms. Huffington is mostly telling women that “The way we define success isn’t working. More, bigger, better — we can’t do that anymore.”

How true. However, with the addiction that comes along with the accumulation of wealth and power in our current society, just saying we have to stop is never going to work. And what will work is not even in the conversation.

Think about it? What can it be? Is it money? No. Is it power? No. Is it time off? No. It is probably something you will never guess and that is, nearly every human being on this planet wants to be better than the human being standing next to him or her. In other words, primitive tribalism. It permeates every aspect of every society on the planet and includes sports teams, political parties, schools, age groups, religions, companies, neighborhoods, races, nationalities, anywhere there are two people engaged in an activity.

And just looking for another metric to add to Money and Power to create a more balanced and intelligent life is a bit silly. What can one add to greed and avarice to make them more reasonable? So we have to take a whole new look at how we approach making a living on this planet. And a great place to start is we humans have to learn to celebrate our differences and the talents and worth of each individual. You can’t do that if your tribe says only people who ignore their families to succeed count or only people who hate certain people can belong to this club or only people who cheer for a specific team are worthwhile.

If we cannot make tribal behavior part of our distant past then we are destine to live stressful, unhappy and consistently painful existences.

In the meantime, I’m going to help folks help feed as many hungry kids and parents as possible. What about you?

Final Review of Arroyo Chico Improvements
Larry Robison, Division Manger at Pima County Flood Control sent around an email inviting everyone to a meeting Tuesday, June 25 at 8:30 am to review all of the improvements KE&G, the local contractor, made before they finish up. Folks are requested to gather at the Fremont Building on the west side of the park.

We collected a total of 181 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 10, 2013

231st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Reaching Out

This is my friend Beth Haggerty. She and her husband Terry saved my life once.

In 2000 I was an independent contractor for the State of Arizona helping Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) folks get back into the working world by showing them how to market themselves more effectively. Beth, an NLP Therapist, helped me land that job because she needed help with one very important and special client.

A year an a half later the world came to an end when 911 happened or at least my world did. I went through Plan A, B and C trying to find work. To no avail. Plan D was to join my younger brother on his wife’s farm in Missouri and help him build his pet food home delivery business. The living was comfortable but the pay was family pay…room and board. Also I was not into nights out at the Elks Club or Tiger Woods jokes. (I shutter to think of what it would have been like the past 5 years with President Obama in the White House?)

Anyway, I was beginning to feel like an indentured servant with no way out. Even my Cabriolet was hobbled in the barn with its oil canister mount lying on a workbench near by.

Then one night I got an idea. I’d modified one of my marketing strategies and send an email to 20 or so friends in Tucson.

If you are talking to a friend or close associate about finding work, you never ask that person directly if he or she has a job for you. This puts them on the spot and a “no” kills the conversation.

However, if you ask them a question like—“Do you know someone who may be looking for help and could you pass my resume along?”—this eliminates pressure on all sides and helps your friends think of ways to help. They may have a job they could talk themselves into giving you but it won’t happen if you are standing right in front of them.

In my “reaching out” email I could not be so general so I picked someone who probably could not help at all and sent her the email explaining my dire situation. Then I put everyone else in the cc: box.

It worked. Beth and Terry had a guest house they were always talking about fixing up and renting but the motivation just wasn’t there. To go through the fix-up and then the rent-to-a-stranger scenario was just distasteful to them. Then Beth got my “Do you know someone” email.

The next day I got a reply from Beth telling me about their plans and that I could take possession of my new home in 30 days. When I told my brother and his wife the news they helped me fix my car and get packed. Guess I wasn’t the only one sick of the situation.

It’s been a little over 10 years now and I’m still delighted with my the little space that saved me.

Up to this incident, I needed no help taking care of myself. I always thought of something to escape from the grasp of the Blue Meanie. But being stripped of my earning power I became trapped. My mind thought of the answer to get out of trouble, but I had to totally rely on someone else.

This acceptance of the reality that I have to depend on others when in need—reach out, in other words—opened up a totally new world for me. In this enlightened state of mind I was able to create One Can A Week where I help thousands of folks, but I need a tremendous amount of help from my neighbors to succeed.

Beth and Terry not only saved me with their little guest house, they showed me that in all of the stages of life on this planet we need the help of others. The sooner we all reach out to help or to be helped the better it will be for all of us. Myself, I now like doing both at the same time.

Five full trucks since January – Just two weeks ago we talked about how unusual it was to
have so many stuffed trucks in such a short period of time. Now we have another one weighing in at 474 lbs.

Ward 6 and its One Can A Meeting Program – For a couple of years now Council Member Steve Kozachik and his staff collect lots of food for the Community Food Bank by simply asking their constituents to donate a can of food every time they use the free meeting rooms. The idea caught on and just today Ward 6 donated 248 lbs. of food. This happens nearly every other month. The photo above shows what a little bit of effort and a lot of commitment can do.

2013 Summer Newsletter
On Saturday you received the Miles Neighborhood newsletter in the mail. The Tucson Housing & Community Development Department was kind enough to pay for the printing and the mailing of the piece.

Be sure to check it out. There are a number of interesting neighborhood updates and a neighborhood meeting schedule you can tape to the refrigerator.

We collected a total of 142 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $13.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 3, 2013

230th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
One Can A Week Makes the Big Time

Richard Rodriguez, the manager of the Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway and Swan, is a big, fit man who drives a big white pickup truck so the moment you enter his store you have to consider the larger picture.

Since Richard is a “walk around manager” the first thing you do is scan the 28,000 sq. ft. layout to determine if he is on the floor. If not, just ask any Sprouts staff member because he or she will know where he is or how to reach out to him.

On Friday I stopped by to see if Richard had heard from management about starting up One Can A Week again. (Remember, when Sprouts was still the Sunflower Farmers Market a couple of years back, Richard instituted One Can A Week because he could call most of the shots in his store. The new owner is a much bigger corporation with nearly 150 stores and they are more involved in everyday operations.)

I got the attention of a young lady in a Sprouts green tee shirt who quickly yanked the ear pod out of her ear while walking up to me.

“Is Richard around?”

With out a word, she rose up on the balls of her feet and looked around. “No, but I’ll page him if you can wait a minute,” she replied settling back on her heels.

And it wasn’t but a minute before Richard came out of the back and walked over to where we were standing.

“Any news from management?” I asked.

With a big grin he said, “Yes, they read all of your materials and would like to start in early July.”

Richard then proceeded to tell me that they had a number of promotions in the front of the store in June so we have to wait a while. He was almost apologetic about not being able to start right away. I assured him that starting whenever he was ready was just fine with me.

Then the thought sunk in. The management of a large supermarket chain just approved One Can A Week in one of its stores. That’s big. That accomplishment will keep me going for some time so the start date can wait.

In March of 2009, I began presenting the One Can A Week concept to various supermarkets. Richard, as a chain store manager, was the first to see the potential in the program and it took a little over four years for events and circumstances to propel the idea up to the management level. In the end, it’s turning out to be a big deal for both of us.

When Richard and I finished our conversation I thanked him very much which he acknowledged and then said, “Well, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

It sure is.

About Sprouts Farmers Market - The corporate office for the nearly 150 stores and 11,000 employees is in Phoenix. Their stores are located in seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah).

Making Her Folks Proud
Megan Guthrie, daughter of Becky and Mark Guthrie on 12th Street was just accepted into grad school at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When Mark told me the good news on Sunday I said, “That’s one of the best schools of journalism in the country. You must be very proud?”

“I am,” he replied and just continued smiling.

We collected a total of 210 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $41.00, a $25.00 check and $16.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,