Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Feature: Dandelion Communitea Cafe

I apologise for not having written in a few days - I have been in Orlando, Florida at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference. Talk about trash. Ugh. I have managed to be almost trash-free here, except receipts and a newspaper that was left at the doorstep of my hotel room. On the flights, I have remained close to trash-free, too, with nothing apart from my boarding pass being generated. I don't drink or eat anything served on the plane; I take my own water bottle (empty through security check-in), and fill it up at the water fountain at the gate and just drink that on the flight, and I just bring my own food (they don't serve anything other than peanuts or pretzels, anyway...)...

But in stark contrast to the AIAA conference, this post is about a place that is extremely positive. There are very few places that are truly genuine in their energy, their aura, and their mission. (Comet Coffee, Cafe Japon and Crazy Wisdom Tea Room are three places in Ann Arbor that I feel are genuine and thoughtful, but many places seem to have a facade up, and have furthermore been morphed into "cool hang out spots" or super hipster places.) Dandelion Communitea Cafe is one of those genuine places. Here is their mission and philosophy:

"At Dandelion, our mission is to Save the World, starting with ourselves, by:
  • Cultivating an enlightened, vibrant and healthy community;
  • Nourishing bodies, minds and spirits; and
  • Promoting the mindful practice of simple, honest and sustainable living.
We accomplish this through delicious, organic, vegetarian food and beverages, legendary atmosphere, sustainable sales growth, conscious cost controls and manifesting prosperity with compassionate regard for the way we conduct ourselves in relation to people, planet (and all it’s creatures) and profits.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Mahatama Gandhi
At Dandelion, we practice a zen blend of Conscious Capitalism, Sacred Commerce and Common Sense.

We believe in social and environmental responsibility. We source organic, fair trade, local, cruelty-free and eco-friendly products from vendors who include love of people, planet and animals in their bottom line whenever possible.

We believe in the power of community. We are part of and beholden to the community we live, work and play in and continue to experience the joys of being supported by and for our community.

We believe in a local living economy. We proudly think of Orlando as “OurLando, Locally Made,” a statement which taps into the independent, progressive and community-minded spirit of a wide diversity of locally owned, independent enterprises and we strive to nurture and promote these concepts by working in harmony with other businesses, artists and entrepreneurs. (We co-created & co-founded the non-profit Progressive Local Alliance for Community Enrichment in January 2009).

We believe in the concepts of Slow Food. Slow Food envisions a future food system that is good, clean and fair and focuses on sustainable agriculture, regional food traditions, the pleasures of the table, and a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life. (For more info on Slow Food, visit"

I have been eating almost exclusively at Dandelion, trash-free. The people that work here are truly thoughtful people, and they have been fully supportive of trash-free living. I believe that in general, the biggest hurdle to overcome when going to a new place is being honest and open about what you are doing. People will be receptive and helpful. I also believe that anywhere you go, you will find little pockets of goodness, no matter how bad you might think the place is. When people think of Orlando, and Florida in general, they think of Disney, Universal and Sea World. But Florida really is much more than theme parks and paved-over land. There are spectacular nature reserves and wildlife refuges. And there are also people that are truly committed to being the change they wish to see in the world. All we need to do is just scratch below the surface, find and support these people, places and communiTEAs.

I have been thinking about several topics to post about, and I will resume regular posting starting tomorrow. I wish you a happy, ecologically- and socially-friendly year ahead.

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