Healing Charlotte Podcast: Kerry Kalish, Healthy Buildings TASC Force

In this episode, we meet Kerry Kalish. She is a Design Project Manager at ODA, an architecture firm here in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also manages the TASC(Tactful Approach to Sustainable Cleanliness) force which focuses on research and development for “Well Building” strategies. Kerry went to Architecture school at UNCC in 2004 and was fascinated back then about how architecture relates to humans. Now she is even more health conscious and aware of how spaces affect people due to having a child with asthma and ADHD. Prior to joining ODA, she worked for a forensic architecture firm where she was involved with more reactive work and fixing problems that already happened. She was interested in doing more proactive work from there. She joined ODA two weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Her boss came to her with an idea to focus more on the healthy building movement. After some initial reading and research, Kerry realized how connected this movement was to her interest in college.

“I even thought it{Healthy Building Movement} was mostly germs and good clean air. In hindsight, I realized this is that neuroscience stuff, this is that same scientific stuff but also the psychology and how we’ve gotten so much more aware of mindfulness.”

There are a couple of certifications including Fit Wel and Well Standard. This movement started about 7 years ago but gained momentum due to the pandemic. These certifications include sections on; fitness and mind, light(that could cause glare and headaches or lowered productivity), water cleanliness, and air to name a few. The standards also address vending machines, catering, and cafeteria requirements.

ODA created the TASC force to educate themselves as architects as well as contractors, developers, and decision makers who they were already connected with. They developed a newsletter to educate and help people see the importance of these standars as well as the return on investment. JLL created the “3-30-300 rule” that helps illustrate where to invest money. Every business, per year, per square foot spends $3 for utilities, $30 for rent, and $300 for payroll(insurance, PTO, sick time, etc). So in essence, Healthy Buildings protect and enhance the lives of people on the inside. The focus most recently has been on ventilation(better air, UV filters, higher quality filters), high touch areas(using surfaces that can be cleaned and bleached), and connection with nature(rooftop terraces, courtyards, and biophilic design). Some industries that are currently adopting these standards are hospitality, self-storage, and education to name a few. Where the Healthy Building Movement protects the people on the inside, where as the Sustainable Movement which strives to not damage, create minimal damage, or regenerate the environment outside of the building. In the future, the TASC force may move beyond Healthy Buildings and look at technology of materials or regenerative design.

“You can really mitigate those if you reduce your employees sick time or if you can improve their productivity. You are going to be able to balance that out more than you can by putting in some slightly more energy efficient light bulbs in your building.”

Kerry wants to heal Charlotte because her friends and family are here and wants her daughter to have a healthy experience. Kerry is inspired by Envision Charlotte; a group that is focused on creating a circular economy including regenerative design, composting, recycling and using underemployed folx to help. Self-care for Kerry includes an anti-inflammatory diet and being intentional with the food she ingests.

“I want to take care of the people around me. I’ve always wanted to do that to some extent. I’ve always wanted to give a positive to the community around me in some way, shape, or form.”

Visit the TASC force website and subscribe to the quarterly newsletter. Reach out to Kerry directly at kkalish@oda.us.com or tascforce@oda.us.com.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Molly Ruggere, Counterculture Club

Molly Ruggere is on the podcast today speaking about her work as a Certified Life and Alcohol Freedom Coach as well as the alcohol-free social community she has created, Counterculture Club. It’s a global alcohol free community based in Charlotte that includes a monthly membership for virtual events 2x a week, in person events, and group coaching. Local members meet several times a month for events such as yoga, Whitewater center, dinners, etc. All of the events are alcohol free and are not limited to women who are sober or alcohol-free. Many of the members are looking for alcohol free spaces and can give those who are curious a way to dip their toe in and see if it is for them or can prove to themselves that they can socialize without alcohol. Member have found excitement by getting through events outside of the club without alcohol and realizing it was a crutch. Molly started the group in 2019 after she was in her sobriety, put tools together for herself, and done the inner work. After all of this she was lacking the like-minded community of women. During the pandemic, she opened up membership to include virtual events and saw membership increase quickly as well as members from all over the world. Alcohol consumption increased during the pandemic and especially for women making this group so important as a resource.

“It’s very hard to exist in a society as a non-drinker when everyone around you in drinking and we are getting these messages constantly that alcohol is what makes you fun and sophisticated and sexy. So we have to do a lot of mental de-programming to see our relationship with alcohol honestly and do some inner work.”

As an Alcohol Freedom Coach, Molly helps people work with their mindset to address their relationship with alcohol. She has found that people have found the impact alcohol has on their health and their relationships. She believes that this coaching and therapy can complement each other well. Coaching is more future-focused with actionable steps.

“Coaching is a partnership. I’m not coming at it from an expert perspective. I’m more of a person that’s here for accountability and to help you step-by-step pull out what you need to do so that it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming and it doesn’t feel like a lonely journey of accomplishing your alcohol-free goals.”

Molly loves working with people who are ambitious, creative, curious, out-of-the-box thinkers, and open to change. For self-care, she utilizes really listening to herself and being honest about her needs. She has ever-evolving tools to take care of herself including journaling everyday. She has found that she can tune in better to herself without the influence of alcohol. Molly wants to heal Charlotte because she grew up here and has enjoyed seeing how collaborative and supportive the city has become. She is inspired by 2 local healers; Rebby Kern who is a Yoga Instructor and Social Justice Warrior and Sam Diminich with “Your Farms, Your Table” for his work in employing people in recovery as well as creating a community for service industry workers in recovery called “Ben’s Friends.”

“It {alcohol} doesn’t even come up because it’s not relevant. It’s not what we are focused on. We are really just focused on having fun and connecting with other people. That’s the message and mission behind it.”

For more resources on living alcohol-free, Molly suggest the book “Sober Curious” by Ruby Warrington or to visit Counterculture Club website. Molly is also a writer for many publications on living alcohol-free.

If someone attends an event in your home that is choosing not to drink, Molly suggests the following:

  • have non-alcoholic drinks available, not just tap water
  • don’t make a big deal about it
  • don’t pry or ask for more information

You can stay up to date with Counterculture Club by visiting their website, Instagram, Facebook, or email countercultureclubclt@gmail.com.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Abby Glen, Shelves Bookstore

Photo by ELEANORKATH Photography.

This episode is with Abby Glen, the owner and founder of Shelves Bookstore. Shelves just celebrated their 2-year anniversary as an online and pop-up new book store. Shelves started as a pop-up store partnering with local coffee shops when COVID-19 hit. Abby quickly shifted to an online model and has now moved to offering both options to purchase books. Abby has wanted to open a bookstore for a long time but waited until she got out of debt first. In preparation, she did a lot of research online on how to run a bookstore, and started to reach out to local businesses to partner with her.

Abby’s history with books starts back when she was young remembering the encyclopedias in her home and visiting the library often with her family. As a teenager in Philly, she started going to a bookstore and was pleased to find books that she could relate to. Around this same time, she joined a book club through Essence magazine and was delivered “Flyy Girl” by Omar Tyree.

“It was the first time I read a book that I could see myself and my neighborhood, and my friends, and my family, and my school, and everything on the pages.”

From there, Abby began swapping the books around to her friend group, much like she does with her “Reading is a Lifestyle” bookclub. This subscription service launched in February but is not a traditional bookclub. You pick 3 categories of books you are open to and each month you will be surprised with a book from 1 of your 3 categories. They also conduct a monthly zoom hangout where readers discuss their own books and hear about the others that were sent out.

“The only reason I’ve managed to get as far as I’ve gotten to or where I have gotten to is because I stayed curious and I’ve managed to convince a couple of other people to be curious with me.”

Abby enjoys working with people who are serious in changing narratives. She likes people who are curious like her and have an open mind to consider new perspectives or new ways of doing things. She is currently partnered with Enderly Coffee and Mint Hill Roasting Company for her pop ups. As far as her own self-care, Abby enjoys journaling and spending time with friends. She wants to heal Charlotte’s literary scene. Currently, we only have 1 other independent new bookseller and few authors come to town. Abby wants to change that and is looking forward to her brick and mortar store in the future as a gathering space for fellowship, friendship, and camaraderie. She believes by doing this and supporting other small businesses here it creates our city’s culture. She is inspired by author and therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab who recently wrote, “Set Boundaries, Find Peace.”

“It’s your people who determine what the culture’s gonna be and your small businesses set the tone of a city.”

Visit their website to purchase books or join the bookclub. If you live in Mecklenburg County, local pickup is available at Enderly Coffee, some areas are eligible for local delivery, or you can have your books shipped anywhere. Follow along on social media or subscribe to the newsletter for all information including the next pop-up location.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Alicia Martin, Plant Therapy

Alicia Martin, the owner of Plant Therapy, is on a mission to improve lives by fostering the love of plants here in Charlotte. Her journey started back in childhood with outdoor plants and her parents teaching her the names of them. Later on in college, she didn’t have any outdoor space, so she began bringing plants into her home. Starting the business wasn’t a dream of hers but more of encouragement from her friends and husband because she is so passionate about and good with plants. Plant Therapy began in September 2019 with a pop-up market and hasn’t stopped since.

Alicia provides consulting to gain an understanding of her clients including their physical space, light, travel schedule, and how much time they want to dedicate to care. She can then bring the potted plants to your home. She also can do virtual house calls to troubleshoot improving the plant’s health. You can find Alicia at pop-up markets, private, and semi-private events.

“During quarantine, people started looking at plants. We are all stuck in our homes and they are looking for ways to beautify our spaces. Aside from that, plants also bring a sense of relaxation, it gives you something to care for and nurture, and learn.”

She loves working with new plant parents to give them the confidence and knowledge to be successful. Alicia loves the connections she has made with other small businesses whether it’s another plant company, a planter company, or a macramé maker.

“Think of it not only as an investment of money but also some of your time and you are going to reap the benefits, you are going to get a lot of pleasure out of it.”

Alicia’s self-care revolves around plants and nature. She absolutely loves taking care of plants and talking about them, strolling through a nursery, or being outdoors. Nature is very calming for her. She wants to heal Charlotte because this is where her footprint is and she is aware of all of the suffering people go through. She has a desire to create a better community for others and especially her 3 young boys. A couple of healers in Charlotte who she is inspired by are Nikki at Bohemian Stylehouse because of the conversations they have and feeling seen as well as Ladara McKennon of Ladara Fine Art who creates beautiful, colorful paintings.

“That’s why I want to heal Charlotte; obviously I want to heal the world, but Charlotte is my footprint right now and so I’m going to do what I can to help the people closest to me.”

You can check out Alicia’s schedule of events on her website as well as follow her on Instagram, or email her mosslady@planttherapyclt.com.

Healing Charlotte Podcast: Challise Cantleberry, Changed Choices

On today’s episode, we meet Challise Cantleberry, the Director of Detention Center Services at Changed Choices. Changed Choices is a local non-profit that supports women impacted by incarceration. They do this through the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, North Carolina area prisons, and in the community. When women are residents at the detention center, Changed Choices can support them through life skills and parenting classes, mentorship program, and counseling services. If women are accepted into their program as clients and are residing at North Carolina state prisons, Changed Choices supports them through their wraparound services including bible studies, pen pals, mentorship, substance abuse curriculum, and support for their families. Once the women in the program have completed their sentences, the community services include mentorship, bible study, assistance with housing and job searching. Changed Choices also has the “Ruth Snyder Home” named after the founder where they can support 5-6 women in the home. Challise mentions that some of the challenges that their clients face once they are in the community include finding a job and housing which can be difficult depending on what is on their record. Family reunification can also be a challenge for them.

“It’s a message of somebody on the outside knows this woman and she has someone who is paying attention to what’s going on and she’s valued and loved and all of a sudden, things change, they are just not forgotten in that prison.”

During COVID, Changed Choices has been unable to provide in person services at the detention center and local prisons. Their mentors switched over to writing letters and their classes were held virtually in the pods. Counseling services ceased at the detention center but were able to continue virtually at the prisons. They started an initiative where they collected items to go into “Encouragement Bags” for the staff at the prisons and detention center.

“That’s why we need second chances; sometimes people really aren’t given a good start and situations perpetuate bad decisions.”

Changed Choices started in 1999 by a woman named Ruth Snyder who was asked to come mentor a couple of women at the detention center. This turned into classes and Ruth recruited other women to join her.

“They look just like us. They just need somebody to give them a second chance that they’ve changed their ways and they want to live a life that’s pleasing to the Lord. So they are attending churches and part of a congregation, they are working for employers all around town, and their kids go to school just like our kids.”

Before working at Changed Choices, Challise had a background in Social Work and Women’s studies. She had a desire to move south and through a friend was connected to the organization. She has now been there 5 years. Self-care for her includes her faith(family and church family) and getting outside(walking, bike riding, and swimming). Challise loves working with the COOOL(Changing Our Outlook on Life) mentors.

Changed Choices could use support as they are a non-profit that is funded by individuals, churches, and grants. Financial support is accepted on their website and by mail, volunteers are needed as mentors, card writers, and pen pals. Visit their website to sign up for the newsletter to learn about what is going on in the justice system and current needs.

Challise is inspired by Brave Step and Crystal Emerick(a former podcast guest) for the partnerships they have formed and what she is doing with her organization. She also enjoys working with Beds for Kids, Dress for Success, and Fashion and Compassion, all Charlotte organizations.