Jan 27th 2017 by BrickRoadDX • 7 Questions • 84 Points
Last week I brought Marco Rubio a spine to replace the one he lost when he voted to confirm Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Today the Senate will be holding a hearing and possibly voting on Tillerson’s nomination. Sadly the spine and I will be working from my office at Greenpeace for this one.
I’m also an attorney, and spent several hours at Dulles International Airport yesterday volunteering my services for detainees affected by Trump’s executive order. AMA!
The spine in the news:
Hi, how was it to be a prisoner during that time? How did you deal with everything mentally when the war was over?
Why do you think the food service industry is more willing to give people a second chance? I feel like many other industries are not as open to hiring people who are trying to get back in the workforce.
did you make eye contact with him?
That's the interesting thing! There are absolutely two sides to this equation, and I think people mainly tend to think about "income".
"Expenses" are oftentimes much more within your sphere of influence, so it can help to also consider these when trying to "make a living" pursuing a passion.
Point being, yeah, I live off making games full time now, but not because I've been wildly successful income-wise!
"I went through everything. Hunger, thirst, cold, heat. Th worst thing was home sickness, with 17 1/2. Only after two years were we allowed to write our parents. They didn't know where I was for two years. I had to work for what the Germans did to the Russian people. We worked four years for that without receiving the pay that they told us we'd get after we would be released. The Russians told us at least that it would be kept for what the Germans did to the Russian people."
"I didn't talk about it at all afterwards. Only some rare times." (Nowadays he talks about it some more though).
This industry is more forgiving, they are looking for people who work hard, they want people who show up and they are hiring. Its the perfect opportunity for people to have a second chance
He made eye contact with me, and with the spine.
Have you ever had a problem with the people you have employed. If not, have you had a problem with customers viewing your restaurant?
Did it send chills down his sp.......wait, he doesn't have one.
Nothing outside of what you would encounter in a normal restaurant, in fact we probably have less. Our biggest issues are more finding ways to help our students overcome their issues more then incidents taking place at the restaurant.
He looked confused, and then mildly alarmed.
Can you serve alcohol at your restaurant? If so, are there any challenges w/ your employees?
How many detainees did you personally speak with?
Yes, we can definitely serve alcohol. If someone is doing a 12-step program or something similar they don't necessarily have to work behind the bar. They are required to know the spirits but they don't have to be around the spirits.
Customs and Border Patrol is refusing to allow attorneys to speak with detainees. In violation of the court order.
How do you find former inmates for your staff—do they come to you through a referral program or do you post the jobs online, or...something else?
Also, congratulations! Rehabilitation and restoration of people who have criminal backgrounds is a special passion of mine and I love stories like yours!
There are a number of different routes. We teach in prison, have connections with local judges, parole officers, etc. We also get good responses from our stories and features in the media.
The plastic spine I held up.
What has been the reaction around Cleveland with you hiring convicts at an upscale restaurant?
Are you going to now start following him around with a pair of truck nuts?
Very positive. We're the pride of #CLE. People have really embraced it and they're quite proud of what we've accomplished. We've received national recognition, which highlights how proud CLE is. More than $8 million has come through the doors. It's been a smashing success.
ALSO: the Senate is about to hold a debate on confirming Rex Tillerson. Senate Democrats are trying to hold it up. Call your Senators and tell them to Reject Rex!
Do you do any marketing for your games? How do you attract potential buyers?
What was the education in Jungvolk, HJ, etc...about? Did they ever focus so much on race theory and how Germans were the master-race, as is often said today by historians?
Did they push people to have kids very soon with girls, be promiscuous, with the idea of a Germany with high population? (Considering he had many kids, that may have had a part in it)
What has been the most negative experience you have had with an employee or applicant?
Why is Rex Tillerson bad for the planet?
Tons! Lots of interfacing with YouTubers, Twitter, Key Giveaways, just did a community tournament. Basically anything and everything I can think of!
They did talk about race theory and such things in the Hitlerjugend.
He went to a Wehrertüchtigungslager (paramilitary training camp) with 15. They had to learn how great the war is and had to crawl through a field with gas masks on, while it was raining. When they would come back to the shack which you were living in with 10 people, all their clothes were thrown on the floor from their lockers. Then they had to sort through all their clothes and after half an hour there was roll call and everything had to be clean. The supervisor came in with white gloves with which he checked all the doors and stuff for dust.
When he was a soldier there was this thing called Selbsterziehung (self-discipline). If someone stole, then everyone had to suffer from that. In the night the Holy spirit would come into the shack and the person who stole didn't know about it. He would get a blanket over his head and then his trousers would get dragged down. Then he'd get hit by the leather of a belt and afterwards get black boot polish rubbed on it. In the morning for the Roll call he had to be clean again then. This was called self-discipline.
Attitudes, mostly poor attitudes, coming in with a sense of entitlement.
Rex Tillerson spent his entire career at ExxonMobil. His job was to find, extract, and burn carbon. Which, as everyone but this administration knows, causes climate change. Which is really bad for the planet. That's the short answer. There are many more reasons, ask away!
Do you take reservations? I'll bring my clients next time I visit Cleveland for business.
What was the best response you've gotten from your spine trolling?
Always, give us a call at 216.921.3333 or visit our website edwinsrestaurant.org
Has to be this, which arrived in the mail: http://imgur.com/a/dX46u
What were the most difficult obstacles to overcome in getting your business off the ground, and successful?
I like that question a lot! Unity makes it much easier to port the game to different platforms than many people might expect. Just in general getting up and running in Unity is not as hard as it might seem.
The worst part is bearing the brunt of strong negative opinions at times. It wouldn't be so bad except in a curation-driven marketplace, rececption and perception is everything.
Hours worked varies a lot. In the months leading up to release I work quite a lot, much more than full time. I try to relax as much as I can during the "cool down" period a couple of weeks after a launch though. Up until the whole cycle starts up again!
"It was wrong but we did believe in it. Back then though, we didn't find it wrong. Back then there was the hope of a Wunderwaffe (wonder weapon) that would still win us the war. That was a rumour going around. My view changed when I was a prisoner of war. Then I realized that it was wrong."
All the obstacles have been great opportunities. The one in particular was raising capital. It took years but made great relationships.
What reaction did you usually got when you told someone about your idea of starting this program?
Game dev will do it to ya man.
How have you mastered fine dining, breathing, AND remembered your name?
Absolutely! My first game, Militia, is available for free on Google Play (with an additional in-app purchase for the Dark World expansion content).
(not on iOS cause I don't have an iOS developer license or a Mac, but perhaps someday!)
- He says that they had captured Russians for their crew. They had to carry the ammunition. In times of of bombardment, they would hide in the bunker and the german officers forced them to go outside again using their guns. They also had Russian gun carriages which had 8,5 caliber. They were extended to fit the German 8,8 caliber and after around 100 shots the pipes got so warm that they couldn't use them anymore.
His crew was mostly people from his class and from his village and from around the other villages.
- He can't remember anything in particular unfortunately. That weren't the times for it, he says.
It's just life. It's the world in which I exist and the world in which we exist. It's like asking a boy, "How do you become a man?" It's just the way it is.
But isolation from the outside helps. Keeping clarity.
How old were you when you started learning programming? What languages are you familiar with? Is there anything else beyond game developing you plan in the future?
It's always amazing to me that people find goodness, friendship and bright moments in the middle of terrible events and circumstances. Do you have any good memories from your time as a prisoner of war? What helped you get through that time?
Do you have any favorite stories to share about people who have worked at Edwin's and have now moved on to other things?
Maybe music? I play guitar and sing in a band with some friends on New Years and such. So maybe more of that stuff?
"We were allowed to write short cards/messages home, that gave hope. He also says that "the Russians that worked with us Germans in that factory had it worse than us. We were treated less worse than them." I am not sure if that was a bit of hope for him (as macabre as it is), if he sees it positive. He mentioned it though. He also says that helping with the theater in the Camp helped.
They're all favorites because our graduates have shown great courage. But Lynn graduated in 2016, and has since bought his own hot dog cart, Udi Dogs. He comes by the restaurant every few weeks so the staff and students get to enjoy his food. I loved being able to send Darwin, our current sous chef, to France, too.
"They should go to Russia and see what happened there." He does not like people like that at all. Also I have to say that I don't think he met a lot of Neo-Nazis in his time. Our village thankfully doesn't have any, as far as I know.
Our goal is to help our graduates get jobs in other restaurants to broaden their experience and leadership skills, but Darwin was so strong that, after graduation, we hired him as a sous chef. Now he's able to mentor and teach while he's also learning himself.
I told Darwin, like I tell all of our graduates, never stop learning but if you're set on going to culinary school, make sure you spend a few years in the industry first. You'll be surprised at how much you know and can learn just by doing.
The concept of the business, is a great stepping stone btw. What is he hiring process like? Do you recruit or do people come to you seeking work?
I see what you did thar.
"In itself I don't like it if people do this comparison. But with the new american president it is difficult not to draw the parallels" (He had some difficulties really grasping what you meant with this question, I think. I don't think he meets a lot of people who throw these comparisons around so easily (maybe it is more of an internet thing)).
He doesn't see the comparison between modern politics and those of germany in the 30s and 40s. At least not in Germany itself. Other places might be different though.
"We were raised to believe in it. I was in the Hitlerjugend and afterwards we had to join the party. I was 16 when I joined the party. But I was too young for politics. We only believed in what they told us."
Process is simple. Sign up, interview, GO. We don't recruit, its all about word of mouth. The difficult part is the first three weeks, which is like a boot camp, a lot of people don't make it out.
What is your opinion on the many European (and American) far-right populist movements that have become so popular in the last year - do you have concerns that what you went through may happen to your children's or grandchildren's generations?
I can imagine it is tough maybe adjusting. Like the work in the culinary area is demanding. Mental toughness
He doesn't like these movements at all. There was a recent comment from Höcke, an AfD politician about the Holocaust memorial which my grandfather found awful. He says that Höcke should be send to Russia to a prisoners camp to experience what he experienced and then he wouldn't say these things. He says that these populists have no idea what they are talking about.
You nailed it, toughness, especially mental toughness is what you need to succeed in life
So we have the restaurant boom in Cleveland, but it's threatened by lack of good staff. How is the institute responding to this issue and how in demand are the students?
The restaurant boom is, in fact, true, but the general idea of lack of good staff is not the problem; it's a lack of training. It's restaurant owners who don't know how to train or don't want to train because they expanded into too many restaurants too rapidly.
We don't have a difficult time running a fine dining restaurant. We have a waiting list of people who want to be involved. And it's not the staff, it's the training. We get people in here with no experience, and we train them to be the best.
We respond by training to the top and training leaders. Currently, there are 40 restaurants who are on a list waiting to hire, so the demand is high.
I'll be honest, I don't get a lot of time to cook at home, when I do its something like cereal, or a simple breakfast with my wife and kid
Any info on the butcher shop or is it still in the planning stages?
Plans being drafted and roof being fixed now. Construction should start in May 2016.
I'm not a felon, but I love your program! How can I be a part of it?
shoot our case manager an email email@example.com she will get you all the info you need
Thank you for what you are doing! The system makes it so hard for ex convicts to make a living and avoid reverting to crime once they are out of prison. You are doing an awesome thing giving these folks a second chance at life. How passionate are the employees? Do you look into what they were in prison for, if so whats some of the common crimes they did time for?
Our students are here 50 hours a week for little pay, the have homework and papers due weekly, if that's not passion I don't know what is.
As a Frenchman, I wanted to know, what is served in French Restaurants? Since you're fine dining, I can't imagine it being things like Pot au Feu or Potée Bretonne, but except Foie Gras, nothing comes to mind when I think of fine dining which is very French.
Cheese, and The Pressed Duck
I got arrested and found a mentor who taught me about perfect practice.
Here's some more color: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/
Did you ever felt like giving up and what did you do in such situations?
No, its been tough at times, but in tight or difficult times its about pushing through and fighting for the cause
Where do you see Edwin's in the next 10, 20 years? How do you hope to expand your mission and brand?
By having the best culinary school in the country and being a civil rights leader for returning citizens. By also continuing to do what we're doing already. The campus was first, the building for the butcher shop is ready, after that it will be a bakery, cheese shop, etc. We're isolating each one of the skills in the school and teaching in a real world environment. We are affecting every aspect - the culinary aspect and the school aspect. We're also teaching a culinary program in all state prisons. The fact can not be denied that every human being deserves a fair and equal second chance.
Kelvin Bailey, from where he started to where he is now.
You can see a little more about him on life after edwins here http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/
I had lunch in a restaurant with a similar MO in Charlotte, probably about 8 years ago, and loved it.
Do you keep in touch with similar businesses, e.g. To discuss business strategies and experiences, or collaborate in any other way such as marketing?
Good q. We try to reach out to other players in this space but pretty buried in what we have going on. Please send me info about the restaurant in Charlotte as I would love to check out.
Live in Cleveland and shared your story on Facebook a few weeks ago when it made the front page. I could only hope to have an impact like you in the community. Do you guys have volunteer opportunities?
Thanks for the kind words! We depend on volunteers for lots of things - you can reach out to our volunteer coordinator, Marie, at volunteer (at) edwinsrestaurant.org who can share more.
I have worked with former inmates in the past and I know it can be difficult adjusting to life in the real world after their release from prison.
Could you tell me about some of the support services that you provide members of your program with outside of your restaurant?
You're right, its a big transition. We offer whatever someone needs to accomplish their goal. If we don't have it in house we go to our strong network of supporters, diners, etc., most of whom are highly rated int their field of work. We have a case manager that helps with any social needs, connects them with child care, social services, etc. We also have attorney that helps with legal woes (driver's license reinstatement, child support, custody battles, etc.). We also offer a family class to build stronger families. We have a handwriting analysis expert who has become more of a counselor. We also offer housing for students and alumni. On top of that we have a staff that cares about each student as if they were a member of the family.
Brandon, I think this is awesome. This is the only way we're going to help people turn their lives around. We can't throw them in a cage for 5 or 10 or 12 years, then turn them loose and expect them to succeed in a world that left them behind.
I love what amount to grassroots efforts like this. Rachel's House in Columbus does some of the same support stuff it sounds like you're doing, aimed at women returning to society after drug and prostitution offenses.
Can you talk a little more about the beginnings of your work, or point us to more writings? What kind of support or pushback did you get from the Parole Authority in the beginning? Was there a lot of doubt on their end? How difficult was it to get into the prisons for classes?
And a last q, if you want: care to comment on the ODRC decision to get rid of the system's farmland and that decisions's effects on diets and such?
Here's a link to a few of my recent op-eds: http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2016/06/02/op-ed-heeding-the-humanity-of-former-prisoners http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/07/prison_gave_me_a_recipe_for_fr.html
We didn't get any push back, we got support. Parole officers don't want to see people fail. They want solutions for success. We also had zero resistance from prisons for our classes. Re: the ODRC decision, its unfortunate but I understand there is a cost associated with that. I thought it was great opportunity for them to learn valuable skills and where food comes from.
I've been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and have a PCL-R score of 33/40. Meaning I'm a psychopath.
A lot of people like me end up going through the prison system, would you/have you hired someone like me (knowingly)? If so then what pros/cons do you think there would be/have you noticed?
Yes, you could be part of our program. We have a tough first 3 weeks to see if you can handle the intensity of the the industry. We have come across many people with different issues and we make sure there is a strong network to support all of them. Your honesty about the situation can make it better and easier, if you are willing to understand the issues you face we will be there to help you through them.
Is the business model viable? Could someone do the same thing without the 501 status?
Yes and No, you would have to cut out a lot of the extras such as housing, case management and other perks our students have. If you work had enough its possible.
Do your employees ever suggest recipes and if so, what was the weirdest recipe and what was the best recipe?
Yes, they do. The weirdest was bleu cheese ice cream. They come up with recipes for our specials all the time, so come in for dinner to try the best ones.
No. There are certain issues that we have 0 tolerance for and are easy calls to make. The other times we have to let someone go are because of effort and we give many opportunities to succeed so it is an easy call to make. No fear when being fair and doing the right thing.
Hi Brandon! I work at a nonprofit in Nashville that helps formerly incarcerated people find employment so I love what you're doing. Employment and job training is absolutely the biggest factor in reducing recidivism. Also, a big fan of the wrap-around services you offer. Have you had any trouble with finding interested employees or with retention? And have you had any trouble with community support and fund development?
We have close to 100 restaurant in the city who have hired our students, and a list of about 40 who are waiting for students to graduate. We are trying to make the community better and they are behind us fully!
It's my understanding that many kitchens develop quirks or rituals that become a part of the kitchen's culture. Have any of these kinds of peculiarities emerged in the kitchen at EDWINS?
Long running joke, our director of culinary arts, Gerry Grim, been with us from the start. Any word, say like Cherry or Blueberry becomes Gerryies or bluegerries
I work with inmates working in Correctional Industries. We also run a cafe, staffed by female inmates, which is open to the public.
Do you find a good deal of your business is for the novelty factor?
We get a ton of people that drop by because getting served by inmates is a weird and strange experience. It's amazing how often people say, "Oh, they're just like normal people."
Thank you for the work you do, I sincerely believe giving someone a purpose and a chance is the best way to keep recidivism rates down and make a real change in someone's life.
No, we do not, we are charging $34 for a french hamburger, the novelty wears off if the quality isn't there.
Are there any aspects of your training programme that are different to other restaurants' training programmes which are designed to educate your workers on the cons of reoffending/show them the pros of employment?
We are more aggressive, each student works every position in the restaurant. To the second part of your question, there are no lessons on why not to re-offend the trick is to provide more powerful yes. If we can keep a student more focused on accomplishing their goals the temptation to return to there old way becomes a less powerful yes.
My fiancée and I are going to EDWINS for valentines day this year. Any suggestions?
Oysters, Paupiette, Venison, Chocolate Pyramid!
We want to build deeper not wider, that why we have done the butcher shop and campus, we want to expand on our neighborhood and where we are. We have 166 graduates, they are our expansion.