There is a simple truth buried in the fundamental philosophy behind Downtown CREDO. It ends up falling out of my mouth a lot: your quality of life is more tied to who you’re becoming than what you have, or what you’re accomplishing. This truth, perhaps more than any others has, made action possible.

The problem with problems is that they tend to arise from a whole complex matrix of issues. If the goal of my action is accomplishing a solution, those complex matrices can paralyze me. When my goal is instead to become a person who rejects apathy and chooses impact (on whatever scale), I acknowledge the matrix and step in.

This first occurred to me one day at the grocery store several years ago. I was in the coffee aisle, remembering the stories I’d read in college about growers and harvesters really getting shafted by the global coffee industry: large companies making large profits at the expense of dudes hauling big bags of coffee up and down mountainsides. My purchase made me feel complicit in stuff I didn’t like. I could’ve jumped on Fair-Trade, but was skeptical of the approach actually moving anyone out from poverty, and had done just a bit of research affirming that. That’s when it triggered.

Some time ago I had been introduced to a friend of a friend buying coffee directly from a group of growers. He visited annually. He payed them as much as possible for their coffee. He partnered with them, as a friend, in making life doable in the rural mountains of Guatemala. I was introduced so that I would buy from him. But I thought, “I can’t start caring where my coffee comes from. Then I’ll have to solve the whole supply chain problem: where do my clothes come from, where does my food come from, where does my phone come from, where does my car come from, etc.”

In the grocery store staring at bags of coffee several years ago something switched. I’ll care where my coffee comes from not to solve the global coffee industry or fix international trade, just to be the sort of person who rejects complacency. That rejection is powerful. It’s transferable too. Since then we’ve rejected complacency all over the place. It’s lead us into new friendships all over town, and we’re starting to own the reality that though problems are complex, we are the ones to make an impact. And we’re liking it.

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