The United Nations established April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day to raise consciousness about this lifelong brain development disorder that affects 1 in 68 children and impacts social interactions, learning and communication. Awareness is great but, acceptance and understanding are better. As is with any cause or issue, we must take the knowledge gained and insert it into our daily lives. It's not about one day, it's about every day.
Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society of America makes this point better than I can. "We must do more than raise awareness — we must call attention to the diverse needs of people with autism and the challenges they face. The greatest message ... is that every person who has an autism diagnosis must be fully respected, valued and be provided a life of the highest dignity, Unfortunately, we are not there yet. Poverty, denial of appropriate and required publication public education, unemployment or significant underemployment, denial of housing options, and way more are unfortunately common characteristics of autistic individuals.”
All too often awareness does not lead to acceptance and understanding in every day life. If the challenges of autism are to be met, it will take a culture shift, and action from all of us. It is my hope that those who read our story, and the stories of others, will take a moment to reflect on their neighbors, friends and those around them in schools, stores, events, and day to day interactions. That they will step outside themselves and help our society truly be more inclusive, not only of those with autism, but also those who live with, work with, and care for those with autism.
Our story is familiar and not unlike many. In many ways our story has been a success, but not without challenges. Some of you may have met Patrick, and if you drink Morning Glory Coffee, then you have enjoyed the results of his natural ability to roast terrific coffee. Patrick was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder just this past week, March 27th, 2017 at the age of 22. Due to a series of life events, other family health issues, and a lack of health insurance coverage, it has taken us seventeen years to reach this point of diagnosis. Patrick has always been high functioning which when he was younger made his differences and difficulties hard to see for those other than immediate family. We did however live the familiar day to day life of many people caring for someone with disabilities. We knew something was different, we just did not have the professional help to address the issue. This meant we were alone as a family to make the best of our situation. We were constantly defending, protecting from, and explaining to strangers and friends. Why does he act that way? You should keep better control of your child. Why do you home school, you should have him in school. Why can't he read, he has to read aloud or leave the group. My favorite has always been... You know what you should do....
After multiple attempts at cub scouts, church school, day camps etc., it became easier to insulate ourselves as a family and spend all our time together rather than expose Patrick, and ourselves to a new set of anxieties and questions, every time we tried to be involved in social or public events. Patrick was for the most part happy doing his thing at home, and as he got older, along with his very supportive brother we were able to attend events and movies with relative ease.
When Patrick turned seventeen we decided to try out roasting coffee as a skill. He was having an easier time with reading and basic social interaction so we felt the timing was right. Patrick took to roasting coffee very easily, making it his own, but then came a new challenge. Our retail and coffee roasting businesses are in the same room. The original intent was so we could interact with, and educate customers. The area where Patrick was working had very little separation from the public. This meant that aggressive customers would randomly ask questions of Patrick, who was unable to reply. The lack of understanding from people was unnerving, and more inappropriate than any of Patrick's behavior or lack of social skills. Customers were pushy and impatient. They would intrude on his work space expecting him to answer questions. This challenge would continue until we installed a larger roasting system, and effectively closed off access to the roasting area from customers.
Our experience in the shop, is a great example of, not only the need for awareness, but also the need for acceptance. Before you charge into and judge a situation without knowing, take a moment to consider that the person you are confronting may be on the spectrum, it is not always obvious at first glance. Patience and understanding are key, everything will be just fine if you take a moment to be considerate of the boundaries of others around you .
As for Patrick, now that he has a diagnosis, a whole new world has opened up for him, to not only to receive help, but to build relationships outside of work, and the immediate family. He will continue to work in the family business, improving his skills as a coffee roaster, and he will confront his challenges with the knowledge that he has a great support group of family and friends. He is also learning that he belongs to an incredible group of individuals worldwide.
I am thankful to the United Nations for creating this day, thankful to everyone working to make life with autism easier to live with, and especially thankful to Patrick, and every person with autism. You make the world a better place to live in.
Here are some great links with information on austism
Autism Science Foundation
Autism Society of America
Oro y Plata, the Montana state motto speaks volumes. It was the independent frontier spirit, that brought the first settlers to Montana in the quest for Gold and Silver, and a new life under big clear skies. Those who have settled in Montana for the last five generations since then have carved out a life in a rugged, diverse and sometimes unforgiving landscape. From the Rocky Mountains of the west to the rolling ranch, and prairie lands of the the east, Montana is 147,000 square miles of challenges and opportunities.
Although living and doing business in Montana is not for the faint of heart, there is a unique opportunity here to be a part of something special. Our towns and communities are positioned for growth, and ready for investment. Montana leads the nation in business creation, not just in our cities, but also in our rural towns, and smaller communities. Montana is building it's future not only on economics, but also on it's unique lifestyle, it's connection to the outdoors, and it's small town feel. It's not called a small town with very long streets without reason. The deep connection between communities statewide is real, and the people are genuine. Innovation and opportunity aren't just words, in Montana they're reality. The businesses and strong communities throughout the state are proving this on a daily basis. The real challenge once you have decided on moving yourself, or your business to Montana, is choosing from so many great communities ready to meet your needs.
For myself, my family, and my business, the choice was West Yellowstone, Montana. What would your choice be?
Are you interested in moving your business to Montana, or starting a new business in one of our communities? Check out these links for more information.
The Montana Ambassadors is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization of leaders in business, education, and the professions with a common dedication to living and doing business in Montana and to furthering the best interests of the state. At the pleasure of the Governor, its members act as office Ambassadors of the State of Montana.
“What do the Montana Ambassadors do?”
1. Provide Mentorship to Montana businesses
2. Offer Networking Opportunities for Montana Businesses
3. Offer our resources and expertise in Advocacy when needed
4. Provide Outreach and Marketing for the Great State of Montana.
5. Identify and Recruit Top Quality Talent and Businesses to Montana.
Morning Glory Coffee & Tea, Inc. is a roaster of retail and wholesale specialty coffee. We provide coffees sourced in an ethical and sustainable way for retail, office, restaurant and in-room hotel applications. Our coffees and teas are available from our online catalog, and shipped nationwide. Our retail store offers coffee drinks, snacks, specialty goods and gifts. We are located in West Yellowstone, Montana on the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park.
The coffee industry had a large impact on myself and my family long before we started our roasting business in West Yellowstone, Montana. By the time we opened our doors in the spring of 2005, I had been directly involved with coffee from seed to cup for over ten years.
I have worked throughout the United States as a barista, coffee roaster, and in national sales of unroasted coffee at the farm production level. I used this experience to start Morning Glory Coffee & Tea with my wife and partner. Morning Glory Coffee has always been more about community, both local and globally, than product. It has always focused on the many people it takes to produce coffee worldwide, as well as our relationship with the end consumer. There is nothing better than the smile resulting from a great cup of coffee. Especially knowing that you have done everything possible, respecting the entire process from seed to cup to create the best product possible with the least amount of impact.
Unlike other businesses similar to ours, we are visited by people from around the world daily, during the summer and winter seasons. We are located on the western border of Yellowstone National Park, in Montana. This means that our products are not only impacting our small isolated community, they are being enjoyed onsite and online by a diverse worldwide community. This is unique for a small family business in a rural community. We are fortunate in that we can provide a comforting product that adds to the experience of those that visit us in Montana and Yellowstone. We can then build on that experience and create a long term relationship via social media and online sales after they return home.
Without a doubt, the ability for a small company like ours to utilize social media platforms has increased our presence, reach, and impact within a potential market that we could only dream of ten years ago. We already utilize Linkedin to connect with potential retail and wholesale customers. We are fortunate to be connected with thousands of talented people that have the potential to help grow our business. LinkedIn ProFinder looks to be an even more powerful outlet for connecting with customers that can benefit from our products and services. When you combine these two platforms with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the sky is the limit for growing the market for our coffee and creating more smiles along the way.
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We reached a milestone at Morning Glory Coffee. We are now baking for our retail store once again. We stopped baking four years ago. The reason? We were no longer able to keep up and maintain our family business due to illness. My wife and business partner was subjected to six surgeries in less than three years, including the removal of a kidney due to renal cell carcinoma (Kidney Cancer).
Operating a small business in a small seasonal community has more than enough challenges. Operating a manufacturing facility while one of the owners is surviving cancer and battling a variety of health issues is more than overwhelming.
The fallout from health issues, and a cancer diagnosis is much different than anyone would expect. We lost multiple retail customers, who could not cope with our situation. We also lost multiple commercial accounts, dropped shortly after we announced what was happening. We spent months wondering if our business would survive, or if we would go bankrupt, losing our house, as well as our business, due to our lack of health insurance.
Aside from a few loyal friends and customers who helped, there was no family to fall back on, there were no fundraisers, there were no new accounts to help soften the blow. There was no indication from anyone that we mattered to our community, or that we would be missed if we were gone. In fact there was one person that told us that we did not matter, and if we did not like how things were going, we should just leave.
It was a dark time and confusing time. And the remnants of this struggle still remain in the form of medical bills, continuing healthcare issues, and lost relationships, both personal and business.
Throughout this struggle, the only person that matters, Laura, persevered. She maintained the family, and continued to see hope in adapting and growing our business. She has dealt with the pain and loss, and focused on moving forward. It is only because of her that Morning Glory Coffee & Tea continues to grow within our community, regionally with wholesale, and throughout the United States via our online catalog.
It is because of her that I was able to reach outside of our isolated community. With her support, I ran for State Legislature twice in an effort to improve our local and regional community while meeting and networking with others that loved Montana as much as we do. In the process I have been able to meet and network with incredibly talented people from throughout Montana. I have also been appointed a Montana Ambassador with the Governors Office of Economic Development. This has further helped in my ability to reach out and share both our business, and the state that we love, with our customers and the world.
So here we are today. Anxious as ever, producing the best products we can, and growing our small Montana family business. There are great challenges ahead in the near future. Like any business, of any size, we will confront those challenges without knowing the outcome. We will move forward, growing our brand and producing the best coffees and teas that we can. Satisfying one customer at a time. And for the first time in four years, we will begin to make baked goods from scratch for our retail again. It has been fourteen months with no surgeries. It is time to begin again and reinforce what we do best. Creating things that make people smile.
20 million+ families in 50 countries work directly in the production of coffee. Around 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods. When you consider seasonal labor, children and other family members, plus related jobs like the truck driver or port worker — whose work during part of the year depends on earnings that come from processing, transporting and shipping the coffee — the figure quickly multiplies.
Add to this the significant number of people who rely on coffee contributing to a part of their salary, whether from roasting coffee, serving coffee in cafes or restaurants, working at a factory which manufactures coffee equipment, disposable cups for coffee or other industry-related activities, and you will find that millions more people depend on coffee for at least a part of their salary throughout the world.
Over 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year. Each cup will directly or indirectly affect between 600 million and 800 million people worldwide or equivalent to at least 10 percent of the world’s population. The importance of coffee, and the labor involved to produce it cannot be overstated. Coffee is a world economic and cultural force that brings us together. Share a cup with a friend, and celebrate the hard work and human innovation that crosses all political, religious and cultural boundaries to bring us our favorite cup of joe.
It is encouraging and beautiful to see familiar faces concerned for, and working towards a more perfect Montana. It is not just those living in Gallatin Valley, but all of us that live in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem that benefit from a respect for and the conservation of all of our water resources. When we choose a place like Montana to live in, it is of great importance that we understand the history and stories of those who have come before us. It is even more crucial that we understand, respect and manage the resources we have as we grow in population.
Mountain Time Arts( mountaintimearts.org ), is telling this story in a unique way.
Some say that the grass is always greener on the other side. I live in a land where the prairie meets the mountains, and the grass doesn't matter so much as the people do.
With a total area of 147,040 square miles. It is the fourth largest state in the United States after Alaska, Texas, and California; the largest landlocked U.S. state. One would think that the space between communities alone, never mind the long and windy winters, would be less than perfect for creating a statewide community of people and businesses.
Montana is different. The people of Montana embrace the challenges of creating relationships and business opportunities over long distances. More than any other place I have lived or worked, the people of Montana are willing to put competition and ego behind for the benefit of others. They are willing to travel a great distance to meet, share and listen to others, especially if it helps improve the lives and businesses of fellow Montanans.
This sense of community and fellowship was on display this past week at the Innovate Montana Symposium, held in Billings, Montana. Present and future entrepreneurs from around the state gathered together to connect, learn, listen and share. Unlike similar conventions and symposiums, this event was absent of sales pitches and overblown egos, telling attendees what they were doing wrong, or what they needed to purchase for sure success. This was real people telling real stories from a variety of perspectives. It was a forum where I heard people at varying levels of success (both financial and community) admit there were things they did not know, and mistakes they made.
The panels were diverse in that they communicated that a business person developing a niche in a small community was equally as important as person running an investment firm. The challenges of operating a large pharmaceutical company were not all that different from growing and operating a specialty furniture store in a small eastern Montana town. The challenges of developing an off the grid environmentally friendly home could be applied to the challenges of running a large hotel operation.
In the end, I came away with a better understanding, that all of these people, businesses and places are pieces of a bigger puzzle that completes and grows the economy of Montana.
There are of course many challenges that we face as business owners in the state of Montana. How do we better finance small businesses, that do not have the fast rate of return investors are looking for. How do we maintain and grow our communities with the least impact on the environment. How do we better communicate and build statewide markets for the products we produce, and how do we incentivize long term revitalization and reinvestment in our rural (and sometimes urban) infrastructure that is quickly eroding and disappearing.
The most important thing is that Montanans are working together, planning and creating opportunities to meet these challenges and others every single day. That is why I am proud to choose Montana as my home. As the author Jennifer Savage write's, "I choose to live where a sturdy fence is still a compliment".
Freshness has always been of great importance at Morning Glory. How we package and ship our coffees after roasting is crucial to how it tastes when it reaches your cup.
Coffee is sensitive to oxygen, moisture, light and odor. Our specially produced bags insure protection from the elements, while a one-way degassing valve allows for the release of naturally occurring carbon dioxide. When you open your bag of Morning Glory, you are greeted with a fresh aroma and a quality cup each and every time.
After opening we recommend storing your coffee in an airtight, dry place. Do not place in the refrigerator or freezer, where your coffee will be affected by moisture and odors.
For many of us coffee is the wake up call or the conversation with dessert. In coffee houses and homes across the world coffee is presented in many forms to satisfy the thirsty connoisseur. Drip, pour over, press, espresso, latte, cappuccino, blended to name just a few. Coffee like no other beverage created, is prepared and enjoyed differently throughout the world.
It is Coffea Arabica that has been the spark that has changed and continues to change human kind. From its discovery and first cultivation in what today is Yemen, coffee has transformed life, culture, religion, trade, and business. Coffee is one of few products that truly brings us together on this little planet called Earth.
At Morning Glory Coffee & Tea, Inc.® we are very fortunate to share our coffees with visitors from around the world, who come to visit Yellowstone National Park and Montana. Because we service people from many cultures and backgrounds, we have to adapt to the many ways that coffee is prepared and served. We believe that whether you are entertaining at home, traveling or in your favorite coffee shop, the only wrong way to drink coffee is to not drink it at all. The rules are that there are no rules except to enjoy your coffee how you like it. Our goal at Morning Glory is to make sure your coffee is right for you.
The world of Specialty Coffee has grown enormously in the past twenty five years. Improvements in agriculture, roasting and packaging now allow an incredible variety of great origin coffees, blends and flavors to be available to the customer. With this in mind we as producers and consumers should share in the wonder that is coffee, by celebrating and better understanding its origins and preparations with very cup we drink.
Check out our coffees in our online catalog here>> www.morningglorycoffee.net
I spend a fair amount of time explaining where we live and, how isolated our little town of West Yellowstone, Montana is from the rest of the world. We spend our days roasting, shipping and serving coffees, two blocks from Yellowstone National Park. Once a week we regardless of weather (for the most part) we make the trip from West Yellowstone, to Big Sky and on to Bozeman to deliver our coffees and stock up on supplies for home and business. Ninety miles each way, this trip brings us through a portion of Yellowstone and is a weekly reminder of just how special it is to live and do business in Montana.
Thanks to Zeno Pontiggia for taking this footage. For us at Morning Glory, this is our weekly trip.