Monthly Archives: September 2013

Two Great Events coming up in Vancouver

Two Great Events are coming up in Vancouver that I wanted to share with y’all. If you can’t attend, send positive vibrations.

OCTOBER 2nd

The goal of The Deeper Side Blog is to inspire change. What better way to embrace change than by celebrating it? How else to celebrate women who are making the step to live clean and sober than by making them queens for a day? In anticipation of their forth-coming nuptials? How about gifting them designer, custom wedding dresses? Custom made Jewellery? How about a day at Zazou Spa?  How about those dresses be none other than upcycled wedding dresses from Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal Boutique?  Welcome to the ReVamp Gala.

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Celebrating the triumphant struggle of brave women, in front of the beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium, Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal designs will be upcycling wedding dresses.  Specially crafted jewellery will be gifted to the brides by Mirror Mirror Bijoux by Pamela Chang, a local designer. (I have pair of earrings I love by Pamela Chang.) And there will be a fashion show to celebrate.  All proceeds from the event will be donated to YWCA Crabtree Corner (assisting pregnant women with addictions). http://www.puremagnolia.ca/2013/09/inspiration-tuesday-the-ywca-crabtree-corner-brides/

OCTOBER 4TH

Second event is the TORCH OF LIFE is a huge media event, including press conferences, film screenings at VGH and Walk for Life Organ Donation.  https://www.facebook.com/events/510954582320796/

I was a living liver donor 2.5 years ago (yes, my liver grew back). Most people who need organs die on the waiting list waiting for someone else to die (yes it’s a weird feeling being on the wait list waiting for someone to die). If laws were changed then many people who were in my position will be spared the ordeal to save a loved one. Canada currently has an organ donation program where we opt in. This means that unless you have signed up to be a donor, you wont be one. The upshot of Canada’s current system is that most organs are lost to those who need them because, unintentionally, they didn’t sign up. Uruguay Mexico, Columbia and Singapore have recently implemented presumptive consent for organ donation. Presumptive consent means that the default is that you opt out. So if you don’t want to donate your organs, you don’t have to donate your organs.

Torch of Life
Karen Hurd Stacey, in a loving gesture, donated her “Blood Money” to help others. Given a transfusion of tainted blood many years ago, she developed liver disease.  Given compensation by the government and turning a tragedy to triumph, Karen used the money to set up the Stacey House. See my post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/05/21/livers-and-givers-karen-stacey/

Karen works tirelessly in the hospitals, volunteering and advising and supporting those people who desperately need an organ. She recently told me about a young man in intensive care who’s barely hanging on, hoping against hope, racing against the clock.  Karen has put together an amazing event to raise awareness for organ donation.  Two films will be shown: stories to touch you: one is about a Palestinian boy killed in the crossfire. His organs went to Israeli children.  In Nicholas’ Gift Nicholas killed while on holiday in Italy.  His parents saved multiple lives donating his organs.  Nicholas lives on.  This makes me cry just writing about it.

To celebrate life and miracles we are given by modern medicine, please come out, see the film, hear what Doctors, donors and recipients have to say and Join the short Walk for Life from VGH to Vancouver City Hall.  Seating is limited for the film.  So get your tickets before they are gone.

Style-Diet Shot – Mike

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

 – Thomas Jefferson

Mike, where he’s happiest at the piano tickling the keys. Michael’s jacket flourishes  (the piping on the sleeves, the collar appliqué, the cravat, and the pocket handkerchief) are all by Joanna Staniszkis, an artist and designer based in Vancouver, where Mike lives.  http://www3.telus.net/thesilkproject/about_us.html  Each item is a unique, one of a kind art piece made by hand in Vancouver and worn with flair!

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The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

522 Fundraiser

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

My mother Ratana quoted Margaret Mead the other night in her acceptance speech at the  Organic Trade Association Awards. It got me thinking about how a group of concerned committed citizens are leading this charge for the Basic Democratic Right to know what’s in our food. 64 countries around the world either ban or label GMOs. The USA and Canada are the only developed nations without Labelling laws. Given that 93% of Americas want labelling, why isn’t this a reality? If the companies selling GMOs only did short-term studies safety studies why are they allowed to sell GMOs?  Especially given they are not proven safe to eat? Why are GMOs not banned or labelled – at the very least?  Coming from Europe it took me a while to figure out that most N. Americans dont know what GMOs are, dont even know that they are in 80 – 85% of processed foods.  And why would they know?  Well Duh?  They are unlabelled.  The chemical companies who own the seed companies don’t want N. Americans to know.  What have they been hiding? 500x500-Avatar-Sup

In Washington State these is an initiative to require Mandatory labelling of GMOs. Called I 522 and put to the citizens, it was be voted on this November.  If you want labelling of GMOs you will vote yes. If you don’t want to know what’s in your food, you will vote no. Already record and ridiculous amounts of money have been poured into the No side by the pesticide companies, “big agriculture”, and purveyors of junk food. To date, they’ve put in over 12 million dollars. Most of these junk food companies also own organic companies, confusing the already complex chains of ownership.

The YES side comprises the grass roots, the environmentalists, farmers who fear that export markets will dry up as GMO contamination spreads, people who care about nutrition and biodiversity, and independent organic companies that are minuscule in comparison to the NO side. Stonyfield – mostly owned by the French Group Danone, and Whole Foods a public company are notable exceptions supporting the YES side.  But compared to the NO side, the YES side companies are digging deep in their relatively tiny pockets. It is not an equal fight to begin with, simply based on resources of the NO side.

At Baltimore’s Black Olive Restaurant there was a fundraiser for the YES on Washington State’s I 522 two days ago. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be a great idea to celebrate the YES side, given that a whole group of supporters were together. So ignited the idea for this post.  Let’s put names and faces to some of the YES supporters.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of those attending the dinner nor those who support YES.  It’s just folks that I bumped into during my short time at the event.

The YES on I 522 fundraiser was organized by Living Maxwell http://livingmaxwell.com/ and Vani the Food Babe http://foodbabe.com/. Both are passionate about food and your right to know if you’re eating GMOs.  They are on a mission to inform and educate. Here is Max Goldberg (L) with Errol Schweizer of Whole Foods http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/.  Whole Foods has taken the laudable and unprecedented step by a national retailer to require labelling by all suppliers by 2018.  This is amazing.  It’s already causing ripples, nay waves.  But Whole Foods says they want to focus beyond GMO labelling and support biodynamic systems, heirloom varieties.  GMO labelling is just the starting point.

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Below here is the Food Babe (she *is* a BABE), with Mike Bronner of Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps.

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Below my brother Arjan (L) my of Nature’s Path Foods with Greg Fleishmann of Suja Organic Juice http://www.sujajuice.com/.

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Below Nutiva founder and CEO John Roulac http://nutiva.com/  posing with Kat Schuett.  Kat is a fellow jazz singer!  She’s also an international journalist, editor and community activist https://twitter.com/katschuett and –  (I’m sorry I didn’t get your name-someone please tell me so I can fix this).  Food Democracy Now’s David Murphy http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/ was in conversation with Delana Jones Campaign Manager for I 522 http://yeson522.com/.  Dave’s short term goal is a Million Members for  FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW.  Please sign up.

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Below Young Activists Birke Baehr http://www.birkeonthefarm.com/about-birke-baehr.html  and  Rachel Parent http://www.kidsrighttoknow.com/, who toppled Kevin O’Leary in a debate recently.   Kevin said “All right, Rachel,  I’ll give you labelling. With greater transparency this is going to happen.”   Do it already!  (Go YOUTH) These kids are only 14.  Birke has already given a TED Talk when we was like 12 years old.  These two have poise and charm and eloquence. GO YOUTH.

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Below, Dr Bronner’s Magical Soap team http://www.drbronner.com/.  The Bronner family cares about health and the planet, like everyone at this event.  The Bronners, Mike in the back and Dave in the hat, are big donors for the YES on I 522 and an inspiration to all fighting for your right to know what’s in your food.

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Below Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich.  They both were in the film GMO OMG.  Dennis said in the film, “If we are what we eat, then we must know what we eating so can learn what we’re going to become.  Until the year,Congressman Dennis Kucinich was the Democratic House representative for Ohio’s 10th district. A former mayor of Cleveland and Ohio state senator, Dennis has served seven terms as congressman for Ohio and in November 2010 was elected to serve an eighth.

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Below Dr Rimjhim Duggal-Stephens, my sister in law whose marriage to Arjan inspired LOVE Crunch cereal.  In a bite-for-bite program, for every bag sold of Love Crunch one is donated to the food bank. A loving person Rimjhim fell in Love with Suja Juices this last week.

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Below Darren Mahaffy, of Natures Path Foods, surrounded by delightful companions: Maria Anderson, Andrea and Randi from Naturally Savy http://www.naturallysavvy.com/

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Below Ken Roseboro below surrounded by friends. Ken is the editor of the Organic and Non-GMO report. http://www.non-gmoreport.com/organicnongmo/newslettereditor.php  He appeared in the film GMO OMG, driving around corn fields with Jeremy Seifert.  He is the one who first explained to Jeremy in the film that the GMO corn is technically a pesticide.  That pesticide companies are putting pesticides in our food.

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I wanted hoping to catch Steve Crider, regional volunteer for the YES on 522 Campaign.  He is with Amy’s Kitchen, making our family’s favourite frozen pizzas.  They also support YES with all their Heart.

In sum, you have a committed group of folks who live, sleep and breathe the YES movement for a safer, more delicious world.

The NO side is a nameless, faceless conglomeration of huge multinationals, pesticide companies with huge legal teams, infinitely bottomless wells of cash resources and shareholders who only care about protecting their bottom line.  Lest you think that this is the Organic industry versus the chemical companies it’s not so simple.  It may surprise you that not every large organic food company is fighting for your right to know.  In fact most are NOT supporting citizen’s right to know.  As Big Multinationals bought out organic companies, (like Kelloggs bought out Kashi for example), most large Organic brands are actually supporting the NO side.  What?  Say that again? How doest that work?  Well, if they hadn’t sold out I can guarantee you that they would be supporting YES. They are supporting no because they are beholden to their Giant parent companies who share a very different set of ideals than the idealists who started out wanting to grow food without poisoning the Earth.  

Organic food growers and farmers are my heroes.  They replenish the soils, purify the waters and go above and beyond the call of duty to the Earth.  Every single one I’ve met wants everyone to grow organic for the sake of our future. Long-term side-by-side comparison studies by the Rodale Institute show equivalent or greater yields.  Without poisoning the water or soil.

Why are we doing this again?

Whom would you trust?

Style-Diet Shot – Anita blue trousers and black top

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

 – Thomas Jefferson

Anita.  Vintage trousers and top.  Her friend’s friend who lives in LA made the turquoise earrings.

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The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Academy Awards of Organic Food

Last night, I attended the OTA awards recognizing Leadership in the Organic Foods Industry.  Organic became an industry started by idealists like my father, as a response to farming with toxic chemicals. These committed few believe, as I do, that poisons don’t belong in the food supply.  Ask any mother and she’ll tell you that she doesn’t want to feed even trace amounts of carcinogens and hormone disrupters to her children.   Several joined the caravan and the few became an “industry”.  Fast forward several years and things are looking brighter as the industry has grown from a seed into a sapling.  But we now have to contend with unsustainable GMO agriculture. Instead of decreasing their use, GMOs have exponentially increased pesticide and herbicide use in a misguided mono-crop disaster.

But here is hope for our planet and our health.  Side by side studies with “Conventional” Vs Organic show that Organic yields are equivalent and organic yields are greater in times of Drought.  Organic methods are the gold standard for healthy soil, clean water, and the food Mother Earth intended for us to eat.  For those of you wondering about organic standards, please see my blog post with answers from Dag Falck. https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/09/15/dag-falck-replies/

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The first award was presented to my parents Arran and Ratana Stephens, of Nature’s Path Foods.  They were honoured with the Growing Organic Industry Award.  When recently asked if Nature’s Path was a non-profit activist group or a consumer foods company, Dad answered “Both”.  I’ve copied his and mom’s inspired acceptance speeches below.

The Second Award was presented to Kyle Mathison of Stemlit Growers for Organic Farmer of the Year Award.  In a rousing speech which made my mouth water, Kyle spoke about his quest to grow the best, most juicy, luscious fruits.  He has helped advance solutions in orchard weed control, organic fertilizer, integrated pest control etc etc.  Kyle, a fourth generation farmer from Washington, made me salivate as I flashed though my most memorable fruit experiences.  That peach I bought in Montreal, those figs from Florence, the sweet muscat grapes from France that tasted like candy, ripe mangoes from India that defy description.  The Apples dad has espalliered.  I wish I had the text of his speech so I could make you salivate too.

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The third and last award of the evening was presented to Karen and Colin Archipley: the Rising Star Award.  Colin is a war veteran who founded the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program.  Helping veterans, who face employment hurdles after leaving the military, Karen and Colin create a link between jobs for vets and organic agriculture on Archi’s Acres in California, their organic hydroponic farm.  Talk about literally turning swords into ploughshares!  They recently helped plant the White House’s Organic garden.

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During their acceptance speech, Colin made everyone in the crowded room raise their hand and pledge to be Semper Fidelis.  This is a Marine Motto.  Always Loyal.  It was a lovely gesture.  From a former marine leading the pledge (whose opening I solemnly swear reminded me of the marauders map), it was powerful.  If anyone had been unsure about the zealous commitment to Organic farming, this dispelled any doubts.

I saw Bob Quinn the KAMUT grower on my way out.  Bob and I spent many years bumping and into each other at European Trade shows.  No matter where I was or what my mood was, Bob made me smile with his killer smile dressed in his cowboy boots and hat with two sprigs of Kamut in its band.  Kamut (heirloom wheat found in an Egyptian tomb and subsequently planted in the midwest) has higher protein content and superior nutritional content to modern wheat.  It also doesn’t cause bloating.  Only organically grown, Kamut, which is trademarked, is growing literally by leaps and bounds since I last saw Bob.  Bob tells me that over 70,000 acres are dedicated to the organic sowing of Kamut!  That is great news for Kamut growers, happy tummies and the planet.

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Below is the inspiring speech mom and dad gave:

OTA Growing Organic Leadership Award ACCEPTANCE SPEECH, Sept 26, 2013, Baltimore, MD:

RATANA:
Dear friends, family, OTA Board Members and Fellow Travelers,

Thank you for bestowing this honor upon us. We are privileged to be recognized.   This journey has been a labor of love. It is to create a better world for our children, grandchildren, and the children of the universe.

This has not been a solo play. So wonderful to see many familiar faces who have been a vital part of the organic movement for years, and together we have nurtured and grown this into an industry. What is the power of a committed few? According to Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Rather than talking about what has happened over the past 45 years that Arran and I have been together (and believe me, we have seen a lot), I would like to pass along some advice in building a successful legacy enterprise, and what we have learned from our mentors:

Never sacrifice quality for money or for any other consideration

Always do your best, and leave the rest

A success is a failure that never gave up. There’s no substitute for patience and persistence.

Never compromise core values and principles. Business and the market are in constant flux, VALUES never change.

Be humble.

Now, I’m going to turn this over to Arran…

ARRAN:

On behalf of the many, Thanks for the Award!

Because of the visible stand that i and my family have taken against the artificial genetic modification of our food supply, And our fight to have GMO foods properly labeled in California and Washington State so people can make an informed decision about whether or not they wish to feed this stuff to their families, I received a tongue-in-cheek question, “Are you a packaged consumer goods company, or an activist group?” I happily answered, “Both!”

2 1/2 years ago, lying in the ICU ward, my life was dangling from a very slender thread, hovering somewhere in the void between life and death. It seemed then, in some strange way that I had a choice—to go into the Beyond or stay on and complete some unfinished aspects of this existence. I chose, or so it seemed, to live on.

Having been granted a life extension, I re-dedicated whatever time was left to serve the Creation in some small way—on the one hand to nurture and protect the fragile earth, to help fulfill the destiny of our enterprise, Nature’s Path and ensure its smooth succession to the next generation, to be there as a loving father and husband, and on the other hand, to continue to evolve as a human and spiritual being.

In ancient times, it was said, “Honor your heavenly Father and your earthly Mother that your days may be long upon the earth, for from one mother proceeds all that lives; therefore he that kills, kills his brother, and from him will the earthly mother pluck her quickening breast.”

I have always felt a kinship with this spiritual, but non-religious Father-Mother aspect of existence.

Over the past seven decades. I have been much blessed to have been raised by loving parents on the family farm on Vancouver Island; to have lived in India; to have married one of her daughters; to have been blessed by her Saints, to have been constantly involved in the organic movement since 1967, before there was an industry, to have, with my dear wife of 44 years, and our four children–Shanti, Gurdeep, Jyoti and Arjan) built an inter-generational legacy of Nature’s Path, without selling out!  For our friends in the investment community, no part of NP is for sale, just to save your and our time.

We have made many good friends over these decades, many of whom are in this hall tonight. We honor you all, we love you all.  To all who are part of the burgeoning organic industry, starting with our unsung heroes: family farmers, suppliers, the hundreds of Valued Nature’s Path Team Members, wholesalers, retailers and last but not least, our millions of customers, we salute you, for without you, we wouldn’t be here.

The world we all share and love, is in crisis. Nature is under serious attack, and she’s beginning to revolt. It’s up to us to nurture and care for what is left. Our generation has made a terrible mess of polluting the nest; let us hope and pray the next generation is wiser. My dad told me, his ten year old son, as we hand planted a field of corn together to “Always leave the soil better than you found it.”

With modern methods of chemical agriculture, using fossil fuel based fertilizers and attacking pests with massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides, we are short-sightedly destroying the long-term fertility of our soil bank, depleting it at the expense of future generations. In less than 20 years, since the first GMO crops were introduced, more than 90% of soy, cotton, sugar beets, canola, and Hawaiian papayas now contain alien gene traits. There have been no long-term safety GMO trials, which makes us part of an unprecedented feeding study, but we are not lab rats! Nor are GMOs even labeled, yet they are in 80% of supermarket foods. GMO crops are failing their maker’s promise to provide greater yields, toxic herbicide use has gone up 15 fold, allergies have increased three fold in the short two decades since GMOs were introduced into the North American agricultural system. Predicted super weeds have developed resistance to herbicides, contaminating more than seventy million acres in North America, now requiring even more deadly chemicals to eradicate them. Thousands of unique species of plants and creatures are lost every year.  Instead of cooperating with nature as we should, as guardians or trustees of our land bank, modern science and short-sighted consumerism is waging war against Nature. And this has many of us disturbed.

Biotech companies are interfering with evolutionary processes that have taken thousands—even millions of years to perfect. Genetic modification is not a continuation of selective breeding, but the significant alteration of life forms. And the outcomes are haphazard and unpredictable.

Organic agriculture and soil conservation is the only bulwark against this tsunami of ecological mismanagement.

Because we are concerned that good organic farmland is being lost due to ageing farmers retiring with no heirs to take their place, we have begun to buy good farmland, with a cooperative crop-sharing model. It is working, but with the rate of demand exceeding supply, we desperately need more young organic farmers. We are grateful to be a part of the organic solution. You are, or can also be a part of the solution. A new, caring economy is needed. A fresh paradigm of conscious capitalism, if I may borrow the term, a new generation of idealist-entrepreneurs is much needed. There is hope, and I am an optimist.  I will fight for the good of the earth so long as I live, and until the I that is my body becomes the earth, while the I that is my soul soars free from its temporal fetters to merge the lesser light with its Source in the greater Light.

Let me share one of my farmer/songwriter/father’s songs:

Across the plain, my yellow grain
Lies restless as the sea,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

To fill my need I sowed the seed,
And now repaid I’ll be,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

The seasons change with splendor,
My ceiling is the sky,
The earth, my master, happy man am I

Two arms that gladly share my toil
Or hold me tenderly,
How could this all be given to a guy like me?

Style-Diet Shot – Fair Trade Wedding Ring

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

 – Thomas Jefferson

I mentioned earlier that this was my year of weddings – I was invited to no fewer than 6 weddings this year.  I felt all swimming with love and pomp and circumstance, heart-felt positivity.  I was tickled to find that a certain groom was given a fair-trade certified and stamped wedding ring.  I didn’t know that they even existed!

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In the ultimate symbol of love and fidelity, it’s triply meaningful for it to be stamped fair trade!

The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

Great Canadian Shore Cleanup

We are in the middle of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup week.  Feeling bad about the oceans full of plastic and the sea life whose bellies are filled with plastic?  Do something about it, turn that angst into action!  http://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/en/search/cleanups  Find a clean-up near you.

Anissa Paulsson, the Director of Exhibits at the BC Maritime Museum invited me to clean-up a local shoreline park in Victoria’s inner harbour .  Pick up garbage?  On a Sunday afternoon?  (The last time we did a beach clean-up, we collected curious objects that I was loath to explain to my kids.)  But we don’t want birds and seals and otters (of which we have several residents) eating them either.  So fricking A, we were in!

Martime MuseumHere we are outside the Maritime Museum with Anissa and her mini-me, Amara (and the haul).   As you can see, we are hoisting bags of garbage.  Cute Amara was getting into the spirit of the photo-op!  All this was an hour’s worth of collection from about 8 volunteers from the small park at Yates and Wharf Street.   

Think of how wonderful this is for our local seals, sea otters, sea gulls and other birds and wildlife!   I’m so happy Anissa told me about it in her apologetic email.

She spread the word to me and I’m now spreading it to you.  All is takes sometimes is a reminder.

Please spread this to others so we can all cycle in positive feedback.