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4 Amazing and Eco-Friendly Must Haves for New Parents

Posted by Brianna Kilcullen on

Are you expecting a bundle of joy soon? Or perhaps a loved one and their partner is expecting and you are looking for sustainable baby shower gifts? We are excited to share that we have put together a short list of eco-friendly baby shower gifts from small business owners to make your life easier. Check out these four amazing (and in demand) gifts that are eco-friendly, sustainable and unique!

  • Natural Wooden Name Puzzle made by Busy Puzzle - This eco friendly puzzle game is sustainable and handmade by Julia in the Ukraine. She started Busy Puzzle after wanting to create fun and memorable games she can play with her son. Family bonding time is so incredibly important, and so Julia created various different games using sustainable materials such as birch plywood and water based ink. All of the materials were chosen because they were eco-friendly and safe for children. You can customize this particular game to make it unique! 
  • Baby or Toddler Hammock Swing - This beautiful hammock swing is a wonderful choice to prepare for a new addition to your family - or a baby shower gift for expecting parents! This particular hammock is designed for babies and toddlers. This item comes in a plethora of different colors, and offers plenty of gender neutral colors.This hammock swing is completely handmade, and is made with sustainable wood and cotton to make it comfortable, safe and eco-friendly. 
  • Anact Bath Towel Set - Anact created an eco-friendly and sustainable hemp + organic cotton blend fabric in order to craft durable towels. We don’t use any dye’s or chemicals during the production process, which makes them extra safe (especially for new born babies!). Since our skin is our largest organ in our body, it’s super important to be mindful of what we put on it.Towels are often items that are forgotten, but oh so important when preparing for a baby. Since Anact towels are designed to be extra durable and are naturally biostatic (this means they naturally prevent the growth of bacteria!) - they are an amazing option when looking to buy towels for your baby. They also are incredibly soft, and only get softer over time. Just to make things easier, we created an amazing bundle that includes a bath, hand and wash towels to ensure that regardless of the size of towel you might need you’ll be covered. 
  • Healing Baltic Amber Teething Necklace- This is a wonderful woman owned company based out of Jacksonville, Florida who specializes in healing baltic amber jewelry. The brand sells this beautiful baltic amber teething necklace made for babies that are looking for emerging teeth pain. Since this necklace is made with real and natural amber, it doesn’t have harmful chemicals or residues. There are many teething options available, but it’s important to pick an item that is natural and chemical free. 

Any of these options would be wonderful gifts for loved one’s expecting a child, or if you’re expecting and are looking for items for your baby. If you’re looking for a gift bundle, a combination of these items would be a wonderful and helpful gift for new parents. 

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ANNE FRANK

Posted by Brianna Kilcullen on

Today is one of my hero's birthdays, Anne Frank. A fellow Gemini who captured my heart since I was 8 years old and first learned about the Holocaust in my 4th grade class in Verona, Wisconsin. Anne's story resonated with me so much that I somehow snuck a copy of Schindler's List out from the library and waited until my parents were out of the house one day to watch it by myself. That was a turning point in how I looked at the world. 

I always knew people were having different experiences than my own due to my Dad's job (he was a college basketball coach). When they weren't playing ball, my mom usually had my dad's players over to our house to either babysit us for extra money or for a home cooked meal. Most of these young men playing basketball (majority were on scholarship) came from all walks of life. Tough upbringings that my Dad would share with us when he talked about recruiting. 

But it wasn't until I met Anne one fateful day in 1998 via book that I really connected with someone (my own age too!) who was writing such poetry in one of the most difficult experiences that a human could go through. That's when I felt a fire ignite within myself. A fire that has led me to South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, Poland, Cambodia, and finally - Anact so that I could understand humanity. I actually thought about NOT sharing this worrying it might be too "deep" but then I thought - I don't want to hide pieces of my own human experience and moments that have sculpted my life anymore.

 

I tried to visit the Annex when I was in Amsterdam in 2016 but it was closed the day that I was there so I took a photo instead and vowed to go back. I've tried to hide this piece of myself that wants to break down and cry each time I see humans treat one another poorly but I don't believe it's what I was called to do. So if you're reading this, this is meant for you to know and hear. I'd rather spend my Saturday night paying homage to extraordinary beings like Anne than be drinking booze to numb out from the reality of the human condition. I'd rather be watching documentaries learning about what others have gone through so I can be better at holding space for the pain they carry. I'd rather put all of my energy towards understanding what is my responsibility to give back to humanity while I'm on this planet then have one more conversation that is created by the culture. 

I don't know why I am this way (my family wonders too) but it is what it is - God makes no mistakes. When I don't share what is in my heart then that's when I feel disconnected from who I am and from others and that feels AWFUL. And with that, I leave you with two of my all-time favorite Anne quotes. Here's to you Anne. May I show the same courage in life that you showed through your incredibly short lived life. May we all.

 

"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

 

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank 

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CBD Craze

Posted by Brianna Kilcullen on

Hemp. A four letter word (or shall I say plant) that holds so much hope and promise for US farmers, entrepreneurs and the US economy. A plant that has been mislabeled and mistreated for more than 70 years in United States society that many are now betting their whole livelihoods on.

The hemp industry has become synonymous with the same energy exhibited by industries such as cryptocurrency, e-commerce, and blockchain. Driving down your street you’ll see “CBD sold here” claims from convenience stores to retail stores to billboards claiming hemp can solve your anxiety and more. In my opinion, that’s one tall order to put on one plant crop!

That’s why I have gravitated towards connecting with people and businesses that are creating products that use hemp to solve problems instead of jumping on the trendy bandwagon and taking advantage of consumers in this wild west of an industry. Because I do not believe that CBD which is derived from the hemp plant is a one-stop shop for all of your problems. I believe it has performance features that can help you whether it is ingested or used topically but that what it presents is far more alluring - the opportunity to connect with our soil and the future of manufacturing. 

Most people do not know that the US imports more than 99% of our textiles from other countries, including hemp textiles. The hemp that is being grown in the United States is not the variety needed to be grown for textiles. Furthermore, even if it was, we do not have the manufacturing capabilities to process and cut and sew it into garments that would be at a price point that American customers could afford. 

When I designed the Anact towels, I was super excited to get rid of the mildew smell that had long accompanied my plush bath towels made out of conventional cotton (if you did not know, hemp is biostatic which means resists the growth of bacteria due to its molecular structure) but I was also really excited about educating Anact customers and our community as to why we cannot manufacture here and the history of textiles in the United States so we could innovate the future of textiles using hemp. 

Since we are re-introducing hemp for the first time since 2014, there is very little supply which means there is enormous opportunity for innovation, automation, robotics - you name it. The sky's the limit to apply an Elon Musk Tesla style approach to how we manufacture hemp as we know it for whatever industry it will be sold in and tell the story of the farmers, the soil, the process, the factory worker and the problems that the end product is solving for you as the customer. 

That is why I believe it is ultra-important to ask questions and thoroughly research brands selling hemp-based products before you buy from them to ensure that they are here to solve your problems while doing justice to the hemp crop instead of manipulating a plant only to land us back into the capitalist structure that exploits people for profits. 

Hemp is the future - but only if we truly let it be without applying preconceived notions of the past and the thought process of “this is just how we’ve always done it.” Cheers to hemp paving the way for our next iteration of capitalism: conscious capitalism. Welcome, it is nice to meet you. 

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Downtown Jacksonville

Posted by Brianna Kilcullen on

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida but more specifically Atlantic Beach. Atlantic Beach is a cozy nook with a small town charm; however, I did not go to school where I grew up. Instead, I went to school downtown. My 11-year-old self still remembers hopping on the non-air-conditioned bus during those sticky, humid Floridian mornings and the goodbye waves to my dad as I sat on the brown peeling leather seats that my legs immediately stuck to as we pulled out of Fletcher Middle School’s parking lot en route to James Weldon Johnson Middle School. I always knew we were close to school when I smelled the coffee grounds while traveling over the Mathews Bridge. 

Going to school downtown while living at the beach was an experience I am forever grateful for because it shed light onto the intense racial inequality that exists within my city. It opened my eyes on a daily basis. Who would have thought that almost twenty years later I would be living less than a mile from my old middle school in Jacksonville’s downtown? Unfortunately, my time downtown did not last long. Here’s why.

Our downtown has a serious issue of people who are physically and mentally hurting arriving at the GreyHound Bus Station. People arrive from all over the country where passengers disembark without anyplace to go. If you have ever been to LA and seen Skid Row, you would feel like we are not too far off from that after a drive through LaVilla. What breaks my heart is that we accept this as normal. I am here to tell you - it is not. 

Sometimes in the morning when I was living downtown, I would get up and go for a run down the streets around the new courthouse and Jenkins BBQ (my favorite), by the Clara White Mission House and the old houses that look like they were built in the 1800s, through FSCJ’s campus to the outskirts of Springfield past the Cathedral to the Jaguar stadium and WJCT’s station and loop back to Bay Street and up Laura before ending at the Barnett Building. To switch it up every once in a while, I would run along the river to Riverside and back again. On these runs, I witnessed some things that I could no’t believe with my own eyes.

I share this with you because Americans have a habit of looking down on other countries and other people without realizing that our backyard is not very clean itself and many people in our local communities are suffering and in need of one another. Here are some of the things that I witnessed: 

  • I witnessed a man just released from the hospital with soiled scrubs walk barefoot like a zombie through downtown for several days on end. 
  • I witnessed another man carrying a machete style knife as he slept outside of my building. One of his lungs had collapsed and he would scream out to anyone who passed for some type of human connection. He still roams downtown trying to connect with others to this day. People refer to him as the beatbox man. 
  • I witnessed a woman singing to herself on the corner for hours, her face sunburnt from the hot Florida sun. She went missing last year and I have not seen her since. I will never forget meeting the Barnett Building cleaning crew who shared with me that one time this woman had fallen and they helped pick her up. When they did, the woman told them she had not been acknowledged or touched in years, and she was so grateful for their kindness. That made me cry. 
  • I witnessed another woman who would sprawl out in the gutter with all her belongings beg for cigarettes on the weekends. 
  • I witnessed a man crippled by drug use standing outside of Jimmy John’s begging for money every single day. 
  • I witnessed a man named Elijah physically attack men if he felt like they were threatening any women(whether they were or not). 
  • One night I looked outside after I heard screaming and saw several drug dealers pull out a gun on a couple who claimed they had ripped them off. The look on the couple’s faces when they saw a gun pointed at their faces is something I will never forget. 
  • At night, I heard the screams and fighting throughout the streets. One of my neighbors told me as soon as the sun goes down everything changes. All I knew was that once I was inside for the night, I was not going back out there until daybreak. 
  • I woke up one morning to find my car broken into and I often witnessed others have their cars burglarized. 
  • I learned to always have my doors locked and to do rolling stops. I actually learned this in Baltimore but felt like I applied it more often in my hometown than I did anywhere else I have ever lived. 
  • I learned to avoid the intersection where 7-11 is located because heaven only knows what could and was going down there. One time my mom was driving early in the morning and while parked at this intersection, she had a woman come up with just her underwear on and try to open her car door. 
  • I made mental notes of who hung around the Riverwalk when I went for runs and which areas had blind spots so no one would see me run one way and surprise me on the way back. 
  • I saw a family packing up their car in the morning who had just slept in the same car the night before. They were hustling to get up and get out before the relentless downtown parking police ticketed them. 
  • I saw the morning crew starting to line up outside of the library ready to open at ten am so they could hang there for the day. 

I share this with you because I believe that we should be leading with our hearts more than ever. We should not be turning away from that which breaks our hearts but turning toward. Because from the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that anyone or anything is a lost cause. Jesus showed us that redemption is possible for all of us on this planet. 

One morning, I visited my friend Nathan at the amazing community garden he built in Springfield. I was sharing with him what I was experiencing and he mentioned a book he was reading about testing conducted on hamsters. The testing concluded that when hamsters are isolated, they lean on any type of drug for connection but when they are together and can be connected to one another, they do not need any drug.

That really resonated with me because it made me think that maybe that is what is going on in downtown Jacksonville. A lot of people who do not feel seen, heard or like there is a future for them so it becomes an apocalyptic stomping grounds for the mentally ill with no reprieve in sight. They are an eyesore for the politicians of Jacksonville and a heartbreaker for the empathic ones. I feel called to say something not only because it makes my heart break but because of my own belief system. I used to think that my greatest accolades in life would be based on what I did and accomplished. Now, I believe it is based on how I made others feel and how I am able to offer my skill set to let someone else know they are not alone while giving a voice to those who do not have one.

As for a way forward, I realized that I would not be able to help others without helping myself which is why I had to remove myself from living downtown full-time to calm my own nervous system and feel safe to move about without fear of being watched, tracked or harmed. I do not believe that anyone would have hurt me intentionally downtown but unfortunately, I do not trust people who are taking drugs to not hurt me and I do not feel physically or mentally strong enough to protect myself. 

That is why I chose to continue to build Anact and partner with others who see the same things I see and have the bandwidth and the ability to do something about it. I am attracted to anyone who believes in shedding light on those who don’t have a voice in our local and global community. I’m researching and reading up on the use of psychedelics (in controlled environments) to help those dealing with their own neuroses to face their trauma, quiet the ego and release it so they can get to the root cause of the wounding. 

My hat goes off to downtown warriors such as Folio, Wolf & Cub, Bellwether, Sulzbacher and more who have either carved out spaces to run businesses in these areas or are directly helping those in need. Y’all are the realest. 

In light of surviving year one of a pandemic, I pray that our community will continue to have more compassion for one another and to honor each other’s human experiences regardless of what we have gone through, what we are suffering from (because we all suffer), how much money we make, what we have done in the past, whether we live in a home or not, or what we have to “offer” in this world. 

I pray for the people listed above as well as for everyone in my life and on this planet everyday. I hope that in sharing my experience living downtown from what I witnessed and continue to witness brought you on that journey with me and inspired you to take action in some way. Because if not you, then who? 

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History of Hemp

Posted by Daniel Kapron on

Learn more about the storied history of Hemp
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