One of the seven Core Values of Whole Foods Market is: To Support Team Member Happiness and Excellence. To help strengthen this value, each store dedicates seven days each year to "Team Member Appreciation Week." The Human Impacts Institute was given the opportunity to be a part of last week’s activities through showcasing our Lexicon of Sustainability exhibit at Midtown East Whole Foods in New York City. We also sent a speaker to talk about our mission and what we do here in the city. On Thursday, May 24th, I was lucky enough to get to talk at the busy store. It also just so happened that the Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Truck was parked out front.
At the talk, I drew parallels between Whole Foods and HII. Both organizations are passionate about sustainability and making our communities better for our neighbors and ourselves. One striking similarity is our engagement strategy. Whole Foods tells stories of the vendors and farmers behind their products. They aim to show their customers how their purchases directly impact the world around them. At HII, we show individuals their impacts by relating their passions to the environment around them. In my workshop, I asked the team members what they really care about, what “blew their skirts up”. The following discussion was engaging, insightful, and inspirational. I met a fashion designer, a bike enthusiast, and a hip-hop artist. There is an amazing crew of people who are active in their communities and in the Whole Foods store. I showed them videos of how HII uses creative communication to link seemingly unrelated issues and topics. For our fashion guru, I showed HII’s participation in a fashion show for 10 Days of Climate Action.
For a deeper comparison between air quality in Shanghai and in New York City, I showed our film with the NYC Oil Addicts on Asthma in NYC.
And for the two participants that had organized a flash mob the previous week involving the whole store breaking out in a dance to Pharrell's “Happy”, I showed a flash mob video focusing on recycling.
Another common value we share is our love of food that is healthy for our bodies and the environment. The Lexicon of Sustainability photos were a perfect intersection between the core values at Whole Foods and our goals here at HII. The exhibit uses beautiful photos to tell a story and feature real people working on the issues that matter to them. The motto of the Lexicon of Sustainability is “Your words can change the world.” At HII and Whole Foods, we also believe that creating an inclusive and diverse environment for change is essential. That is why we aim to create environments that are simultaneously inviting, fun, unique, informal, and educational. I certainly hope all of those words could be used to describe the workshop. I can’t wait to work with such an amazing group of people again.
By LeAnne Harvey, Community Relations Manager for Human Impacts Institute