If anyone had asked me such a question a week ago, especially in the middle of a restaurant full of great-looking Angelinos, I would have wondered what parallel universe I’d stumbled upon (“Where am I and WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH LOS ANGELES?!”)However, I can now answer this question with ease: I am grateful for vegan spot Cafe Gratitude, which has fulfilled my quest for the delicious/healthy food Holy Grail that I seek but so rarely find. To clarify – I’m not a vegan, but am thrilled when I find any healthful place, vegan or otherwise, that captures my fancy enough to distract from my neighborhood taco cart (the ever-present danger zone).If you imagine such a warmly named vegan restaurant being heavy on the hippie and light on the irony, then you imagine correctly. Cafe Gratitude has embraced rather than shirked this association between food and spirituality. Dishes are named, “I am Fortified,” “I am Energized,” “I am Loved,” etc. and upon presentation the statement is flipped to give you a little empowerment with your side salad. “You are Fortified.” “You are Loved.”It takes a some getting used to if you’ve lost touch with your inner-flower child, but hey, where else can I go geek out about being alive over an amazing bowl of vegetables that actually taste like its made of love and energy??The best part of the whole enterprise is their “I am Grateful” dish. This bowl of satisfaction is like a donation-only yoga class or a museum where they recommend you pay five bucks but nobody’s mad if you can’t. The suggested value is $7, but they’re serious when they say you can pay $0 or $14, funding one for yourself and one for the next guy. Food for the body and the soul – what could be more AOK than that?No Comments »
Sure, you may not have known that April 28th is OFFICIALLY Pay It Forward Day, but now that you do, all those cool micro-kindnesses you do out in your world have their own holiday. AND their own app.Pay It Forward Day marks the launch of our beta app in the iTunes App Store and the Android Marketplace. It’s there for you on Pay It Forward Day and every day after that! Get the iTunes app here: AOK for iPhone and the Droid app here: AOK for Droid.The AOK team couldn’t be more stoked. Upload your AOKs and earn Virtue Points that go to real-world causes. AOK has issued a 500k point challenge, with a penny for every point the community earns. Check the point ticker here: AOK.
Act Locally, Impact Globally!No Comments »
From AOK team member Lynn, an attempted AOK (Editorial Note: Inspired by this act of leaving extra time in the meter for the next person, I added an hour to my meter on San Vicente before I drove off. AOK relay?)I pull up to the parking meter, and with kindness overflowing, I don’t just take a nickel out to put in the meter while I run for coffee, I take a WHOLE QUARTER!!! I snap a picture, to document my overwhelmingly kind act, and lo and behold, the damn meter is BROKEN. Mission NOT accomplished, this was an AOK No-Go.No Comments »
From our AOK team member, Lynn:Parking at Target on the weekend usually sucks, you’re on guard for all sorts of rotten driving behavior. Today, I was more than pleasantly surprised when a young woman and her son went towards their car, and it was the son who made eye contact and a gesture to alert me that this parking spot was soon going to be for me. What really struck is the age of the boy, maybe 7 or 8, and how proud he was to provide me this gift and exchange this silent pleasantry…well beyond his years….it was as if he’d been watching his mom for years do the same, and seeing how happy it made people, thought he’d give it try. I smiled and waved big time, and I could tell he thought it was cool to bond, if only for a moment, with a perfect stranger, on this nice gesture. AOK Observed!A few moments later, the boy gets out of his car and walks towards mine. For the life of me I can’t think of any reason this would need to occur…and I CONFESS that I was a little apprehensive…what could this boy want from me…was there any reason I should go back to my previous on guard position? Geez I hoped not…we’d just had such a perfect AOK moment! I rolled down my window…and the sweet little guy just wanted to tell me that ‘his mom was going to take a little while longer…she had to do something in the car’….WHAT…getting out of your car to tell me this…your AMAZING kid (I thought in my head)! He just didn’t want me to have to wait…he smiled..happy to impart this bit of important information…and boy did I smile back. The only thing I wish I could have taken back was my minor moment of apprehension…completely washed away as this kid melted my heart and made my day!No Comments »
A tale of two trees, from AOK team member, Ira:The tree out front was long dead. We’d been nipping and tucking our new home to make for perfect – and it really was already the best place of seven others we’d occupied in as many years since moving from NY to LA – so our home improvement trigger fingers were often itchy and at times hasty. When we decided to have the wooden carcass removed we knew that we’d have to use one of our landlord’s “guys”, most of which turned out less than stellar work, but in this case a very nice and generally diligent green-thumbed fella, named Ignacio.We didn’t have a history with Ignacio, however. Some language barriers were present, and I’ll admit, I did more than my part to fail to communicate the kind of tree we actually wanted. That hasty, often distracted and hair-trigger, home-improvement-finger lead me to capitulate to Ignacio’s “foliage as a fence” aka the Privacy Tree theory. And while I would have accepted what had been my understanding of a ficus tree (you know, that braided trunk, artful and sparse extension of branches, type deal that everyone in NYC kills trying to domesticate them for indoor display), the tree that was erected at 6:30am, before anyone had a chance to say “yay” or “nay” to it’s installation, one Saturday morning weeks ago, could have passed for a baby Giant Sequoia. It was huge. It was abundant with leaves. It was a force of nature.I was still in denial when I excitedly tried to surprise the family with our new edition. It seemed like one of those cool things a dad does, that if filmed without sound and in saturated colors could make for part of a montaged commercial for a pharmaceutical drug or, with the brood in matching pajamas, perhaps Banana Republic. But by the time we made it 3/4 of the way on our morning walk for coffee, the tree was destined to go. Of course it was too late by then. The tags were removed. Exchanging it for another tree was not an option. Not Banana Republic indeed. Anticipating we’d take our lumps and buy ANOTHER tree, replant the behemoth out back and incur the added expense of labor, we set out and then promptly failed to find our dream tree.Ignacio however saved the day. Maybe he recognized his part in the matter, installing the tree without first getting our green light. And since he was the “landlord’s guy” not “my guy”, and even if he was “my guy” I wasn’t keen on playing the part of petulant customer by lowering the fault hammer solely on him. So I was expecting and prepared to pay the additional day’s labor fee. But Ignacio did what businesspeople used to do: Make the customer happy. He waived the added expense of uprooting and replanting the tree out back. Kudos Ignacio! An AOK move that I was pleasantly surprised to observe and report!The touch of gray in the silver lining though was that Ignacio had “guys” of his own – employees. And while they showed up for work to do the usual foliage clean up, they undoubtably couldn’t have expected to move the gentle giant today. It didn’t seem fair to me.So, did I act out of guilt or generosity today when I gave them a $40 tip?Is this an AOK confession or an AOK action?I’m not sure..No Comments »