Rags to Rakusus: Paco

Lay practitioners of Zen Buddhist lineages who take refuge in the Buddhist precepts and vows prepare and wear a rakusu – a cloth garment around their neck – representing the monastic robe, also known as kesa. In the days of the Buddha, it is said that certain materials called Pamsula were taboo for use by society. This included materials used for shrouds covering the dead, those gnawed by rats, or menstrual rags. These were collected to create the monks’ robes. The late co-founder of the Zen Peacemaker Order, Roshi Sandra Jishu Holmes, first conceived the Zen Peacemaker Rakusu that is made up of pieces of discarded cloth from origins meaningful to their wearer’s life and practice. This series of posts named ‘Rags to Rakusus,’ showcases the personal stories of Zen Peacemakers’ rakusus around the world.

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Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award

  Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award As Organization Continues to Expand Impact (from Greyston press release, April 2016)   April 8, 2016. Yonkers, NY – On April 7, 2016, The Lewis Institute at Babson presented the Social Innovator Award to Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, for pioneering an organization dedicated to job creation and community empowerment. Bernie joins the ranks of past Social Innovator Award recipients, such as Dr. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, Founders of Partners in Health. This award celebrates extraordinary global social innovators and informs the Babson community on what it takes to create real and lasting change in the world. Bernie created Greyston on the foundation of Open Hiring, which embraces an individual’s potential by providing employment opportunities regardless of background or work history while offering the support necessary to thrive in the workplace and in the community. Greyston continues to champion and expand Open Hiring 33 years since its founding. The event also marked the launch of an innovative partnership between Greyston and Babson. Babson will be the first school to participate in Greyston’s immersive social innovation learning program, which will change the way students learn and approach social change. Mike Brady, CEO and President of Greyston, says, “33-years ago Bernie had a vision for combining business and the values of non-judgement, transformation and loving action to change the lives of people most in need. His vision continues to inform innovative approaches to poverty alleviation three decades later. We are delighted to be launching the education program with Babson College to create a new generation of courageous leaders who will push Bernie’s vision forward. Businesses need to embrace solutions like Greyston’s Open Hiring if we are to break the cycle of poverty and the address the social injustices in the world today. ” “We are excited to co- create this innovative program. Social Innovation is best taught in context and there is no better context for our students to learn from than inside one of the most admired and sustainable social enterprises,” Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director, The Lewis Institute. About Greyston: Founded in 1982, Greyston is an integrated network of programs that provides jobs, workforce development, child care, after-school programs and community gardens, reaching more than 5,000 community members...

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WHAT’S IN A PHOTO?

  WHAT’S IN A PHOTO? By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photo by Peter Cunningham Monkfish Publications, which is publishing a book on Lex Hixon and the radio interviews he did in New York City’s WBAI in the 1970s and 1980s, recently asked us for a photo of Bernie from years ago. I SOS’d Peter Cunningham, photographer extraordinaire, and we went back and forth with various old photos (“Wow, look at that one!” ”Who’s that guy?” “Remember her!” “When was this?”, and on and on), and somewhere in that process, it hit both Peter and me how historic some of photos are, and the broad, multi-weave tapestry we’ve not only witnessed over these decades but have been raveled into ourselves. One photo showed Bernie, Peter Matthiessen, and Lex at a table in the Greyston mansion in Riverdale. Bernie, bald and in his tattered brown samue jacket, is the essence of animation as he lays out one vision after another, Peter looks pensively (painfully?) down, probably wishing he was back home writing a book, and Lex shines like the sun, face radiant. I’m not there, it’s before my days, but I’ll bet a million dollars that this was a board meeting to discuss Bernie’s thoughts and plans for opening up businesses and not for profits as vehicles for Zen practice. Any old member of the Zen Community of New York will remember those endless meetings, the excitement, exhilaration, and the trepidation (How are we ever going to get the money!). It caused me to recall my own first experience, coming up with a friend to the Greyston mansion in 1985 for the evening sitting, only to bumble into the middle of a residents’ gathering in an immense dining room. Generously, we were invited to sit in the corner of the long table as they talked about plans to serve monthly meals at the Yonkers Sharing Community to homeless people, hiring those same folks at the Greyston Bakery (which was already in existence), following that up by building permanent apartments for homeless families (in a county that for years built no apartments of any kind, just private homes and Mcmansions), child care centers, and programs to help folks get off the welfare system. I sat there, novice...

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Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement

Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement By Roshi Bernie Glassman Photo by Peter Cunningham of Bernie, Sandra Jishu Holmes and the Greyston Builders, local Yonkers construction crew  started by Bernie, at the first rehab project (2.8 million dollars) for homeless families (19 units of housing) and a child care center in Yonkers, NY USA. Greyston has built over 300 units of housing by 2015.  (Continued from Bernie’s Training: In The Beginning ) This is my second twenty years in Zen—sort of the second twenty. I will start around 1976. That’s about forty years ago. I had just received dharma transmission from my teacher. But more important in ’76, I had an experience which was very important in my life. It was an experience of feeling all of the hungry spirits, or ghosts in the universe—all suffering, as we all do. And they were suffering for different things. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough enlightenment. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough food. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough love. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough fame. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough housing. Some were suffering because they had bad teeth—like me, all kinds of sufferings. Out of that, in a car ride to work, a vision of all of these hungry spirits popped up. And immediately it also popped up, that these are all aspects of me. Just remember, my experience was that everything is me. All of these hungry aspects of myself popped up. And an action came out of that, which was a vow to serve, to feed—it was really more to feed all of these hungry spirits. So until then, I had decided that my work was going to be in the meditation hall, and in a temple. I had quit for the fourth and last time my job at McDonnell Douglas. And I was now a full time Zen teacher. And I was going to work only in the meditation hall, and work only with people who came to our Zendo, and wanted to be trained. But now I made this vow to work with all these hungry spirits. So that meant I had to change the venue, change the place I worked. And now it...

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Mike Brady Named President & CEO of Greyston

Greyston’s Board of Directors Announced that Mike Brady, President of Greyston Bakery, has been named President and CEO of Greyston, expanding his leadership role to the entirety of Greyston. “We are pleased to have found a leader within our existing team who possesses both the passion for our mission, as well as a vision for what a successful organization should be in the 21st Century,” said Deborah Stewart, Chair of the Greyston Foundation Board of Directors. Mike was a Board Member of Greyston Foundation before being named President and CEO of Greyston Bakery in 2012, the for-profit arm of Greyston Foundation. Through his leadership, Mike developed the Bakery into a pre-eminent social enterprise, demonstrating that Greyston’s unique model of Open Hiring and PathMaking-Greyston’s mission in serving the people of Southwest Yonkers-is compatible with a profitable business model. Passionate about social entrepreneurship,Mike is a well-known thought leader on social enterprise management, mindfulness in business, and the development and success of Benefit Corporations. He is a regularly featured speaker on these and related topics, having presented at TED@Unilever, CGI America, the Ashoka Future Forum, as well as at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Brown. Mike remarked, “Greyston celebrated its 32nd Anniversary this year and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on our heritage as a pioneering social enterprise. The momentum behind socially-minded and sustainable business practices has never been stronger and this could not be happening at a more critical time as we search for answers to the challenges of joblessness and poverty, which are preventing good people from leading lives of self-sufficiency. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at Greyston to address these problems and to set an example for other like-minded organizations to follow.” “We congratulate Mike Brady as Greyston’s newest leader and visionary, who has the experience and passion to continue Greyston’s business model of expert community outreach and growth,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “I look forward to continuing our collaboration with Greyston to assist those in need throughout Yonkers and beyond.” Under Mike’s leadership, Greyston Bakery has been marked by solid financial and mission-based achievements. During his tenure, the Bakery increased revenues by more than 50% and was recognized as New York State’s first Benefit Corporation. Brady’s strategic initiatives have also...

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Greyston’s Mission and History

Greyston’s Mission Greyston is a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. We operate a profitable business, baking high quality products with a commitment to customer satisfaction. Grounded in a philosophy that we call PathMaking, we create jobs and provide integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Our History Greyston has a successful 30 year history that’s grounded in a philosophy to better our community and the lives within it. This philosophy permeates everything that we do and has helped to make Greyston the force of socially conscious purpose that it is today. In the 1980s, our founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman recognized that employment is the gateway out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency. In 1982, he opened Greyston Bakery, giving the hard-to-employ a new chance at life. His open-door policy offered employment opportunities regardless of education, work history or past social barriers, such as incarceration, homelessness or drug use. Out of this hiring policy a new and larger mission grew. Low-income apartments were built for the formerly homeless, providing housing for Bakery workers and their peers. Soon after, Greyston Child Care Center was founded to ensure that a lack of high-quality, low cost child care wouldn’t be a barrier to work. As the AIDS epidemic spread, Greyston responded by opening Issan House and the Maitri Center, providing housing and adult day health services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Growing awareness of health disparities for communities of color and growing concerns about the environment prompted the creation of the Community Gardens and Environmental Education program. Most recently, in response to the recession, which disproportionately impacted poor Yonkers residents, Greyston launched WD 2.0, a comprehensive workforce development program. What originally began as a modest bakery has grown into a broad array of results-oriented, evidence-based programs and services designed to respond to the changing needs of Yonkers residents. We are proud to say that today, Greyston serves over 2,200 community members...

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One Baker’s Mission to Embrace Change

Our journey sharing Full Circle stories continues. Today, we reveal Raymond’s story: a true testimony to our community of dreamers and achievers. Through him, we hope you will see the inspirational strength and love that defines Greyston Bakery. Raymond grew up in Yonkers smelling the delicious chocolate scent which signifies proximity to the bakery producing over 30,000 pounds of brownies daily. Raymond’s father left he and his mother at an early age and his hardworking mother had to work long hours. Raymond began selling drugs with some friends but after spending time in prison far away from his mother and the rest of his family, Raymond resolved to change his life and become a better person. Raymond faced huge challenges at this time. He wanted to let go of his past, forgive himself and find a meaningful job. However, it quickly became clear that many places of business would not hire him because of the person he used to be. He worked for some time at a hospital and at Snapple before signing his name on the Greyston Bakery hiring list. Raymond was determined to work at the bakery, a place he felt would truly accept him. When he received the call about an open position, he felt overjoyed at the prospect of a new beginning. He describes being “welcomed with open arms” on his first day. It has been a year since Raymond’s first day and he has grown to love the community. Sunitha, Account Manager for Ben & Jerry’s, inspires Raymond daily. “I get my energy from Suni. She stands out because she comes into work every day with a smile on her face. That is not an easy thing to do and I respect her for that.” Raymond finds that most of the staff know how to leave their troubles outside the door and share happiness and encouragement within the walls of the bakery. He feels he learns something new every day from all of his coworkers and is inspired to be amongst an incredible group of people who have overcome immense challenges. Each day, Raymond strives to make the people around him laugh. “Greyston has truly given me the opportunity to put my past behind me. I am surrounded by...

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A trip to the Greyston bakery always ends up delivering a cookie and a smile, but at the bakery run by Mike Brady, the extra icing is its stated goal of also serving up a second chance. The recipe for the success of their enterprise includes a commitment to employing a range of chronically unemployed people, including former convicts and recovering addicts. Mike, the President and CEO at Greyston Bakery, is building on the Bakery’s thirty year heritage as a model for social enterprise using entrepreneurship to address the issues of generational poverty in low income communities. Their manufacturing facility in Yonkers, NY serves as a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. Greyston is best known for a 24-year relationship baking the brownies that go into Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. Mike’s passion for social entrepreneurism and the use of business to solve social issues are fundamental to his work at Greyston Bakery. Mike is a business advisor to the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) helping to promote policies for a more sustainable economy. View the webcast about Greyston and one of it’s workers Dion...

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Panels at Greyston Bakery Created by Greyston Employees

GREYSTON’ MISSION STATEMENT Grounded in a whole-person approach, which we call PathMaking, Greyston Foundation, a pioneer in social enterprise, creates jobs and provides integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Greyston Mandala All of Greyston’s interconnected programs, services, all of its employees, tenants, and program- clients. PathMaking It is both a guiding philosophy and a program at Greyston. The PathMaking philosophy is our belief that individuals can be supported to achieve “wholeness” (self-sufficiency) that comes from having a well-balanced, satisfying and integrated personal, spiritual and professional life. The PathMaking program at Greyston provides direction, support and referrals, to all members of the Greyston Mandala- employees, clients, and the board, in the areas of personal and professional development and organizational success. Spirituality at Greyston We understand that we all are connected to one another, have responsibility for each other, and for ourselves; there are ways of being in the world that can help ourselves and others. Openness We believe that our openness is our authentic willingness to include and accept all others in a non-judgmental way, while holding ourselves and others accountable. We understand that we are all connected and have responsibility for respecting and acknowledging one another. We welcome innovation and accept the existence of endless possibilities. Loving-Action We believe in loving-action as a practical application, creating the conditions for others to become empowered, approaching all persons with compassion and all situations with integrity and commitment to do the right thing. Transformation We believe that our acceptance of others where they are, followed by right action, will lead to growth and positive change in the evolution of individuals, programs and communities. Not-knowing Is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation. Bearing Witness We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t run away. Loving Action Is an action that arises naturally when one enters a situation in the state of not-knowing and then bears witness to...

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Greyston Community Gardens

Greyston’s Community Gardens and Environmental Education Program plays a critically important role in the community – providing comprehensive environmental education for hundreds of Yonkers youths and their families, fresh fruits and vegetables and safe open space for recreation and relaxation. The program has turned eight vacant city lots into thriving growing spaces as well as hands-on outdoor classrooms, teaching Yonkers youths and their families the importance of eating healthy. Our longtime Program Coordinator, Lucy, is a member of the community and works to cultivate a sense of ecological stewardship while simultaneously instilling an entrepreneurial work ethic through the growing and selling of fresh produce by program members. Greyston’s Community Gardens & Environmental Education program is comprised of four components: Gardens Greyston maintains community gardens in eight separate locations within Yonkers, serving a total of nearly 400 garden members. Garden members weed, water, harvest, and care for vegetable plots that produce hundreds of pounds of produce every year. During harvest season, members unite to create nutritious meals right in the garden using barbeques and fire pits, and enjoy communal dining in their urban oasis. School and Community-Based Environmental Education Each year, more than 600 students at local schools and libraries are introduced to environmental science concepts. Students are exposed to real-life examples of the many intersections between the natural environment and their daily lives. Additional interactive and dynamic workshops covering a wide variety of topics, including: recycling and other conservation measures; the local urban habitat; the roles of local plants, bugs, and animals on our ecosystem are provided throughout the year. The Enviro-Earth Club The Enviro-Earth Club is an after-school and summer program that cultivates local environmental leaders by educating and motivating urban youth about gardening and the environment, while promoting healthy eating and living among the participants and their families. Special Events Special events for members and the Yonkers community include the annual Enviro-Health Fair, garden barbeques, garden clean-ups, and “green” holiday celebrations. Unique, environmentally-themed programming is offered over the course of the year in conjunction with our community partners, including the Yonkers Riverfront Library, Yonkers Public Schools, Groundwork Yonkers, Sarah Lawrence College, and Concordia College. These special events serve a combined total of more than 1,000 Yonkers residents each...

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Plunging at Greyston

To “plunge” is to assume the responsibilities and daily challenges of a line-staffer by doing their job for a full day or shift. The objective is to come as close to experiencing an actual work day in the life of an employee. Working side by side and interacting with employees in another department, brings about appreciation and respect for the employees who permanently fill those roles and inspires team spirit throughout the Mandala. Plunging is a chance to bear witness to the hard work of individual employees who contribute to fulfilling Greyston’s mission in their own unique way. All plungers are encouraged to share feedback on their experience within a day or two of their plunge. Plunges have been designed for each service-area of Greyston. Any employee or board member can sign up to have this experience through the PathMaking department...

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Greyston Real Estate

In above photo from left to right: Maezumi Roshi, Hon. Al Del Bello, Sandra Jishu Holmes, Bernie Glassman, Ellen Burstyn, Alan Ginsberg, Kuroda Sensei, Junyu Kuroda Roshi, Tamiko Kuroda at the opening of the first Greyston housing for previously homeless folks. Beginnings: After creating jobs for the unemployed  in the community through the Greyston Bakery in the 1980’s, Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, decided to address another great need in South West Yonkers, affordable housing. What began on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers spread all the way to Irvington and Pleasantville, NY. Today, Greyston currently has affordable and low income housing at 8 different locations. In those buildings Greyston meets the housing needs of formerly homeless persons, senior citizens, artists and musicians and persons living with AIDS/HIV, as well as the housing needs of those seeking affordable housing. Meeting community needs: Aside from Greyston’s programs and offices that are located at some of its housing sites, Greyston has other important community services and business that occupy commercial space in its buildings. For example, the Irvington Public Library is housed in one of our buildings in Irvington; the Pleasantville Senior Center is located on the first floor of our 24 unit building for seniors, and a lavish ballroom for catered events is located in Getty Square at its 2-8 Hudson Street buildings along with a fabulous new Pakistani/Indian restaurant. PathMaking in its Program: In keeping with its PathMaking philosophy to provide support to individuals as they seek self sufficiency, Greyston not only provides employment but also housing for a number of its employees. Many of those employees have been long term tenants, and one in particular was an original tenant in the Warburton Avenue apartments when they were built in the 80’s! She says, “It has been a great experience living and working in the same community. Working at Greyston, I get to see the children who attended our Childcare center go on to public school, and I’m able to relate to their parents as involved and concerned residents of this community.” In the forefront, Shelley Weintraub, our VP of Real Estate  Development, continues to seek out and diligently work on other development opportunities for Greyston. Behind the scenes, Greyston employs a hardworking team of porters and...

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