Red Goes Green and Phillies fare

There’s nothing better than rooting for the Phillies. For many that’s true when the Fightins’ are winning. For others, including myself, I’ll be cheering whether they’re world champions as they are right now or when they hit a slump. The 2009 season at Citizens Bank Park (CBP) is already underway in my mind. On this damp, dreary, late March day, I ventured to the ballpark to experience the club’s offerings off the field for the new (and champion) season.

This will be the Phillies first full season for the Red Goes Green initiative. The Phillies rolled out the first public efforts to reduce the team and stadium’s carbon footprint last May. This season, fans can more actively take part in the efforts. Around the ballpark concourses are 35 three-stream collectors with an 80-gallon capacity. Global Spectrum General Manager Bram Reynolds says once fans understood the rectangular containers were NOT ad panels for Waste Management, containers that ask for bottles, cans, cardboard and other litter started filling up quickly during games. Staffers work to empty the collectors for more recycling “donations.” Reynolds says when you factor in the post-game cleanup by staff plus what was deposited during a game, depending on attendance from 1 1/2 to 2 tons of cans, bottles and plastic are recycled. Three tons of cardboard is collected and compacted from the average game-day crowd. Factor in the other litter, an average game generates 12 tons of trash. Fans could also find themselves being followed around by “Phil the Can,” and his pal George Colli or one of the other Phanstormers. The Phillies red pinstriped waste can reminds fans to deposit their waste and not leave it behind.
The Phillies are also stepping up a volunteer idea that began last season: giving groups of between 30 and 100 a chance to help the Red Goes Green effort while catching some of the game at the same time. Now, you don’t get a seat at the game. You do get free parking and a meal ticket. Your group fans out, (children under 16 have to be chaperoned by an adult) and you walk up and down the section steps and around the concourses during the game through the 7th inning collecting recyclable plastic and aluminum. Your volunteer group is recognized during the pre-game events. There’s more information on the Phillies site and you can ask for information by emailing
CBP food and merchandise concessionaire Aramark is taking a few more steps to offer more recyclable paper and plastic goods. Director of Concessions at the ballpark, David Lippman says all food containers are bio-degradable or compostable including every plastic cup dispensed at the park. Fry-oil is recycled. He stresses there is no Styrofoam used at the park. Lippman said his wife gave him grief about Styrofoam, so he is likely happy at home and at work.
Those condiment packets that seemed to be stuck to the ground everywhere at the ballpark are long gone. They disappeared last season in place of the condiment dispensers. While the onion dispenser tends to get clogged up and some people are perfect slobs when it comes to tending to the messes they make, the dispensers are a much better alternative than those foil packets.
In the CBP shops, there are 100% organic items for sale including the World Champion Phillies shopping bag and a “onesie” for the tiniest of Phillies fans. Phils spokeswoman Leigh Tobin is a big fan of the organic items, though her baby is probably too big now for the “onesie.”

The Phillies continue to work behind the scenes with their partners in the recycling effort. Everything from office paper to printer cartridges, light ballasts and batteries are deposited in the offices for recycling. “Green” cleaning products are used throughout the park. The club has also committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy this year.
Beyond Red Goes Green efforts, Aramark has tweaked the food offerings with a few more vegetarian and vegan items. Campo’s is now the chicken and steak purveyor at the park and also serving up a tasty vegan “steak” with spicy peppers. Yes, it DID taste like chicken, but extremely flavorful, served in a fresh roll. Planet Hoagie is again serving its vegetable hoagie and is offering chicken and tuna salad hoagies on a healthy wheat roll. The new Alley Grill is featuring selections from Harry the K’s restaurant as well as a southwestern veggie burger. Bull’s BBQ, with former Phillie great Greg Luzinski hosting, is also serving now a “kid’s” platter with a chicken slider, gooey mac and cheese and apple sauce.

While food prices at the ballpark can be a budget-buster in these tight economic times, the Phils allow you to bring in food. While you might want to “brown-bag-it” for your game-day main course, buying and sharing a snack as your treat will save you a bundle. Or, you could enjoy a slice of Seasons pizza from Neighborhood Pizza and take in peanuts you bought at the grocery store.

While the Phillies capitalize on the 2008 World Series victory, it remains to be seen whether the recession will affect the ballpark. The place may be “greener” with the recycling efforts, but it remains to be seen whether the million-plus fans at the park spend any more “green” while they cheer the Fightin Phils.

Manic Monday

Whether you are employed putting in mega-hours a week or transitioning, Mondays still mean the same thing. This first spring Monday is no different. You keep to the morning routine and head out for appointments. Only difference; you’re not getting paid. You tell yourself, that’s OK, it’s all in the name of networking and gaining new and different experiences. Deep in your gut you wonder, is there anything in this for me? The answer is always a resounding: YES.
One fact in working a gazillion hours a week is you are always in hyper drive. You are balancing work, home and many other personal things. Now your focus is not only on finding new work in perhaps a new field, but finding the place you fit in the world-at-large. Even if you are employed, this is always a mission, you just don’t have the time to thing about the “big” picture and where you fit in the future. While I balance the job search and quest to fulfill my life, I am taking baby steps. Sure, I’d like to feed the poor, solve illiteracy, clean up the environment, run for office and in the process win the Nobel Peace Prize. Guess what, not happening. So channeling my thoughts and energy into ways that I can be of service to my community while networking professionally is the best use of my time for me right now.
I have found two places I’m trying where I am getting to use my professional know-how and serve at the same time. (Both of these things look great on a resume once I’ve put in some time.)
I started another manic Monday feeling as though I had little to offer. After a more than 90 minute meeting with two key stakeholders in a worthwhile community organization, not only do I know I can help them and the cause, but to quote Sally Field, “They like me.” Never underrate maintaining self-confidence during these shaky times. Grab on to those handle bars and realize YOU are steering. Finding the direction is the mission.

Is anybody out there?

What did we do before cell phones, text messages and emails? The answer is simple: we had actual face-to-face contact with people! I believe many of us are becoming socially deprived. While many people in the business world do have many opportunities to meet and greet and have face-to-face meetings, so many others hardly ever talk to a person. I looked in my email “deleted” folder today, I have more than 500 messages in there. Of course, lots of it is “junk” and I’ll purge the folder of those emails, but I think about all the people I haven’t actually spoken with in months. That has changed as I am in this new phase of my life. I am enjoying getting out in the city, meeting people for coffee, tea or lunch and talking about life. It is a wonderful feeling to sit down, if only for half an hour or so and make eye contact with a person you have known for years personally or professionally and just take a moment to enjoy their company.

I had lunch today with Jack, a dear friend from high school. We reconnected several years ago during the planning phase of a reunion through another dear friend, Marc. We talked of jobs and the jobless, his successful company and expertise, his family, mutual friends and went through the “whatever-happened-to” conversation. Yes, I handed him a business card he said he’d give to someone in his office building who we both know, who might be interested in getting in touch with me. Of course, I’ll follow up, but the point is: taking the time to reconnect with old friends when sometimes all you want to do is pull the covers over your head, can be just the lift you need. This has turned out to be one of the good days in this journey. I’m learning quickly to capitalize on these good days and be thankful. That, despite the fact that when I went out to my car after lunch, the Philadelphia Parking Authority guy was just printing out an expired meter ticket. At least THAT young man HAS a job! All we can do is laugh.

Retrain your Brain

When the light bulb (or CFL if you want to be environmentally correct) brightened for me when I joined the Weight Watchers program some years back, I learned that in order to lose the 30-something pounds, I had to retrain my brain..FOREVER. I had to eat differently; find nutritious and better choices and understand how I got there in the first place. During this job seeking journey as I answer “What’s Next,” I’m retraining my brain concerning my career. Perhaps it’s an overused cliche, but it is quite true: think outside the box. Several people have suggested to me that looking for a job that really makes you happy, is a number one priority. The economy got where it is today because of pushing and shoving to earn more, live larger and put yourself through so much stress your head feels as if it’ll explode. One person in the know asked, “Do you REALLY need a job right away, or can you take the time to find what you REALLY WANT?” I had my “Ah-ha” moment recently and opted for choice number two. Now, patience can be the devil in disguise, but I am determined to serve, bring people together for a common cause or goal and really help others through my position. Aren’t you exhausted listening to people argue points when they ultimately want the same thing? Are you tired of people pressing their point so hard that they can’t even begin to hear what others are saying? My skills in listening and analyzing, helping people understand the goals and interpreting and explaining what other people are saying, can help me in my quest for that job with an organization. Instead of seeing myself in just one mold, I am working to remold myself. I may have to take another class or two and read some books, but the important thing is my wide network of contacts will start to hear me and see me in a different light. Let’s see how the new more turns out.

Life is a circle–look all around

You never know where you’ll get a job lead. Today, at a memorial service (seriously) I handed out a business card. You had to know my neighbor who passed away. He was a barrel of laughs. Harrison had a sarcastic wit that would make you roll for hours. At the age of 86 and after a long fight, his body just gave out. His family gave him a sendoff that I’m sure Harrison watched from above and enjoyed completely. I even left him a scotch and rocks on his memorial table, just for him to “enjoy.” I digress. There I was, enjoying talking about family, friends and neighbors with the invited guests and a man who used to live across the street from my house starts talking about a board he serves on for an organization I truly believe in. I start chatting and asking questions. Somehow it did get mentioned I was in transition in my career and he starts mentioning people I should contact. Then he asks me for my card so he can call a couple of people on my behalf. Goodness, wouldn’t it be ironic if I ended up with a position after attending the memorial service for my wonderful neighbor? Whether the lead pans out, it just goes to show you: while your job search is underway, never underestimate any situation you are in during your daily life. Being a trained observer my entire professional life has led me to be always looking at life 360°. Life is indeed a circle.

The Jobseekers

You see them popping up everywhere: pink slip parties, job fairs, resume writing groups and for lack of a better term support groups for the unemployed. I made my way to such a group that a church member stepped up to form at my local house of worship. This was the group’s third session. The organizer sent emails letting us know the owner of a recruiting company would be attending to offer pearls of wisdom and answer questions. The turnout was the largest since the group formed; even the head pastor attended to offer support.
I was never much of a group-sharing kind of person; I was never comfortable sharing my feelings. That changed several years ago when I totally “got” the Weight Watchers philosophy and lost 32 pounds becoming a lifetime member (and have still kept off the weight). While I was hesitant to go to this group, I figured, misery loves company. At least I’d have a place to listen, learn and get a few things off my own chest.
The group members varied from an employed educator who believes she’ll be losing her job soon to a CPA who is probably on the brink of getting a new job as well as a recent college graduate looking for a break in the web and Internet design field. The evening got interesting when the church member who owns an executive search firm arrived. He was very candid in telling us what firms look for, what companies want and how to approach meeting with human resources personnel once you get that far.
He advised us not to be discouraged. It is his belief there are many jobs available, you just have to be creative in finding them. The online searches probably don’t offer the best opportunities and are generally NOT a good way into a job. The human connection is best: find someone you know or someone who knows someone and make that human contact. You may still have to go through the online application which gets screened by an applicant tracking system, but you may be positioned on an insider’s radar screen. He told us the applicant tracking system is the best thing to happen to search firms and human resources and the WORST thing to happen to job candidates. A computer program or in some cases, a person, looks through your carefully compiled resume for key words that relate to the position available. If you do not have those key words or experience or education needed, you are OUT. If you do get through that screening, you are one of many applicants; you still have a long way to go.
What I got out of that job seekers meeting was a camaraderie among people I barely knew or never knew. I connected with a business executive who I’ll be meeting with next week. We’ll talk about the possibility of consulting together. I also had a good day in meeting with a good friend of mine. She has a growing retail business and she may be using me for some public relations and promotions as well as some web/Internet fine-tuning.
Networking is huge. Try to say “yes” to any opportunity to meet in person with people, no matter how casual the situation. Many people I continue to talk to say the BEST way to connect with a new position is to get your face in front of a person who is in the know or perhaps the person who will be hiring. Beats those online applications any day.

It’s all about ME

The most uncomfortable part of the next journey I’m embroiled in is talking about myself. “I think” this and “I want” that. I have spent my career mainly listening to people, asking them questions, interpreting their answers and writing stories about issues, people and situations. My whole approach to news has been, “How does this story affect YOU the listener/viewer?” Now, clearly moving away from broadcasting at the moment, I have to focus on what it is I want to be in this next phase of my life. All of the people I’ve been meeting with over the past weeks have asked me the same thing, “What do you want to do?” Finding the inspiration to dig deep within myself to answer that question is where I am at today. My answer so far is simple: I want to serve the community, somehow make a difference in lives within that community and be HAPPY doing it.
I’m fortunate to have a husband who is gainfully employed, so we are not on the brink of financial disaster. I have the luxury of time which can be a double-edged sword. The longer you are out of the game, the rustier you get. So I keep meeting with the many people with whom I’ve come to know over these many years in the professional world. I say “yes” to networking events. My church has a new group, “Jobseekers” with people in the same boat; I’ll network from them.
What about applying for jobs? Oh, the list is growing. If I’m lucky, I apply for a job online and at the same time, know someone within the organization so I don’t have my online application ending up in cyberspace. But it’s really a HOOT to get rejected by what I call the “IN-HUMANE Resources” departments of companies and organizations. It’s the 21st century version of the “reject letter.” In an email that is likely computer generated, they praise your resume, but say they are considering other applicants. I was rejected for a position I know I was very well qualified for. But the local company had a parent company located in one of those “square” states in the Midwest, and I was rejected within 24 hours by that “inhumane” resources computer program that scanned my resume and/or cover letter and rejected me on the basis of a few words here and there.
I am a great believer in destiny. Whatever I am destined to do next will be a challenge, hopefully a worthwhile position that will make a difference in other people’s lives as well as fulfilling my own. I continue to listen to other stories and hold on to the optimism within, knowing my next challenge is out there, I just have to seek, find and grab.