A Reflection for B Corp Month, 2022

What follows isn’t really about mead or meadmaking in any meaningful sense. It’s not about what inspired me to be a meadmaker or how to run a meadery. It’s probably not even good advice about how to run a business in general. It’s just something that I, Ricky the Meadmaker, need to say on This of All Days.

We’re a proud B Corp standing for People, Planet, and Prosperity for All. And with the start of B Corp Month, I finally decided that it’s time to tell everyone that there is no handbook that tells you how to stay in business while living your values. There isn’t even a book that can tell you how to stay in business or one that can tell you how to actually live your values.

Every day we do our best to make decisions that meet all of our lofty goals, but to paraphrase Albert Hubbard, “A leader is someone who makes a lot of decisions, some of them right.”

So with no handbook and so many impossible goals, I wanted to tell you how we try to make every decision at Groennfell Meadery and what it means in the real world.

“Today I recommit myself to the Feast. I will welcome all those in need of Safety, Comfort, and Joy. And I will accept all invitations to the same, for in a feast there is no giving and there is no receiving, for all is giving and all is receiving in a feast.”

These are the first words I say every morning when I get up. They are a bit grandiose or possibly worse, but they came to me one day shortly after Erik was born and was safely home. I’ve said them every day since, and I have no idea where they came from.

Every time I say them aloud, it suddenly seems like a brand new message that applies to that exact day.

When we were invited to a wedding that involves hauling two children (both under five-years-old) over twelve hours in a car, we couldn’t decide what to do. Everyone is going to be vaccinated, everyone who can quarantine will do so, and… I just didn’t like the idea of sitting in Jersey traffic with a baby and kiddo. Then, on that day, I remembered, “And I will accept all invitations to the same…” and it was obvious. Our cousin is (hopefully) only getting married once in her whole life, and she has invited us to a feast.

These days, in addition to a few responsibilities at the meadery, I’m mostly a stay-at-home dad so that Kelly can run the company, and I can’t tell you how often I have meditated on the words “I will welcome all those in need of Safety, Comfort, and Joy” with little ones who rely on me for everything from food to cuddles to a coherent story about how the world works. There’s no obvious way to give them both comfort and to share the stories of the many challenges in this world that call upon us to act.

For me, depending on the day, it is hard to welcome or it is hard to accept… or both.

I want to live with an abundance mindset, but that prosperity piece is so elusive…

As a business owner, the entire marketplace is constantly judging you with dollars, but when you’ve committed to running a business with a triple bottom line, suddenly you can be judged on every action. And not just on the results of those actions, but on people’s perception of your intentions.

So be it. That’s exactly what I signed up for.

Today I recommit myself to the Feast. I will welcome all those in need of Safety, Comfort, and Joy. And I will accept all invitations to the same, for in a feast there is no giving and there is no receiving, for all is giving and all is receiving in a feast.

These words are derived, in many ways, from our company mission statement:

Join the Feast is more than a slogan to the staff and community surrounding Groennfell Meadery, it is a commitment we have made about how we want to live our lives.

In a world full of noise, doubt, and distraction, the Feast is a place where we can recommit to our principles, our families, and our wider community.

A Feast is not simply an abundance of food, nor an excess of drink. A Feast is a ritual set off from the rest of your day, week, or year. It needn’t be a grand affair; with the right intention, two people can feast on a picnic blanket.

Our goal at Groennfell Meadery is to be Stewards of the Feast. We try to incorporate the values of the Feast into everything we brew, all of our events, and the way we run our business.

Between the UN Climate Report and the ongoing war in the Ukraine, those words have yet again taken on a new meaning; they have finally coalesced into a mission statement for me and the meadery.

We are as responsible for the Feast tomorrow as the Feast in a century.

As our mission has slowly expanded over the years to welcome more and more people to a community that accepts them as their entire selves, we are expanding that call to look to the future members of our community, those human beings not yet born.

This year we are analyzing all of our ingredients, packaging, and resource usage as part of Scope 3 analysis to help us steward resources for the generations to come.

For our biggest inputs, honey and fruit, we are already undertaking a transition so that we can personally verify the environmental practices and working conditions involved in the production of all of those ingredients.

We’re not telling you to buy our mead because it will change the world. Frankly, if you want to have the biggest impact with your beverage consumption, you could switch to drinking water out of your tap and forget this whole alcohol thing.

We’re just telling you about our commitment: We are as responsible for the Feast tomorrow as the Feast in a century. And, with that commitment, we are taking our stewardship and oversight to a new level.

At its core, a Feast requires abundance and a willingness to share it. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that large corporations (and many individuals) have more in the way of assets than we do, but we have something so much more valuable that we can share with future feasters: Time and Attention.

First, we have Time. Most people know the old saying “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Every day, starting at this very moment, we can work to reduce the amount of carbon that we put into the atmosphere and, through our Bondegaard project, even begin sequestering more than we release.

Second, we can give our Attention to the things that matter. We can take a personal stand against the wrongs of this world and, perhaps most importantly, against the pervasive anxiety that makes it feel like we’re powerless.

We can give our attention to well-researched reports and news and make the decision to do  something.

You are in control of your attention and you can be proactive about how you spend your time; use them to make this world ready for the generations to come.

That is what we’re committed to. To the best of our ability we will make all decisions on an 80-year time horizon. Why 80 years? Honestly, it’s because we know people who will still be around then, and it makes the decision-making less abstract.

People, Planet, and Prosperity for All aren’t distinct goals that we can work on independently. They are deeply interconnected and we are more committed than ever to work together with our community to Feast today, tomorrow, and in the decades to come.

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