Posts tagged ‘share our strength’

April 10, 2011

Two Guys & A Fight – Phase 1 to Strength Hike 2014

Personal Post from Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO of Chalkboarder

I’ve had a dream for a couple years now. This dream goes to my core – it gives to the community. It’s complex and yet simple at the same time. I’d like to lay out the vision here for you.

Imagine a society where no child goes hungry.

I’ve subscribed to this vision since 1994, when I first participated with Share Our Strength. Share Our Strength is a U.S. nonprofit, dedicated to eradicating childhood hunger in the States. As a chef, I participated in numerous fund-raising events and instigated the launch of the Maine Chapter. I was fortunate to travel with Food Network Chefs and Share Our Strength to New Orleans just after Katrina. I have long been passionate about this organization and believe that this society can eradicate childhood hunger.

Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. — Muhammed Ali

That’s the background for this post.

I have a vision to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail (2650 miles) as a progressive fund-raiser for Share Our Strength. I’ve set my start date for March 15th, 2014, to finish by August 15th and to travel North-to-South, from Canada to Mexico.

Most PCT thru-hikers travel South to North, avoiding the remnants of winter on the northern half. My first pledger, Eric Stromquist of Oregon Culinary Institute, challenged me to travel South in exchange for being the first pledge. [thanks, Eric]

This is no easy venture. Snow in Washington/Oregon in March and April can be over six foot deep.

Here’s how the progressive fundraiser works. Every 300 miles, your pledge doubles. If you pledge one cent per mile to start, and I complete all 2650 miles, your pledge becomes $1405. I intend to sign up one-hundred pledging units before starting – which would make (if each started pledging at one-cent per mile) a total funds raise of $140,500.

At mile 2300, with one hundred pledgers (who started with me at one-cent per mile), the total pledge doubles – from $70,000 to $140,000 – with 350 miles left to complete. That’s motivating to finish!

You’re probably going “ok – but what does that have to do with boxing and fighting?” I’ll get to that in a moment…

In 1998, with my then girl-friend (now former wife), I hiked 1700 miles on the Appalachian Trail in five months. I have a good idea of the challenges I’m undertaking in this venture.

In 1998, I was 34. I’d been on my feet 14 hours a day as a chef and soldier for fifteen years. In 2014, I’ll be turning 50. Things are different now. Back then, I didn’t train for a long-distance hike. After a month, we were banging out 20+ mile days in succession. I cannot approach the PCT without training.

Phase One Training – Conditioning

Get in shape. Quit smoking. Increase endurance at high energy expenditures. Develop the body’s ability to avoid injury naturally and without thinking. Develop a high level of physical awareness.

I’ve partnered up with Coach Jana Simms of Jana Simms Boxing – part of one of the top Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the USA, Alive MMA. Jana has heard my vision and I am placing my trust in her to springboard me toward the Trail. In return, I’ll be launching two blogs that detail the training and the thru-hike. The first blog, called Two Guys & A Fight, will journalize my experience learning boxing, muay thai, gi jiu-jitsu and other forms of mixed martial arts.

Someone asked if I was going to fight. Yes, I will – when that time comes.

Phase Two Training – Skills

Long-distance endurance. Situational awareness. Back-country survival. Minimalist expeditions. Biathlon and expedition skiing. Marathons and parkour.

The Pacific Crest Trail is tough. It’s more remote than the Appalachian Trail and higher in elevation.

Medical care is harder to get too. Wild animals are more prevalent.

In 1998, I sought out B&Bs along the way. I traveled with a lot of gear. Gear and comfort slow you down. I’ve set a time limit of 5 months for this venture and will plan this trip as minimally as possible. Gear will be as light and minimal as possible in order to cover as much distance each day that I can.

Phase two focuses on distance endurance, survival skills, injury prevention and winter travel. It also focuses on being easily able to deal with danger – that’s where the sport of parkour comes in.

Phase Three Training – Logistics

Hiking plan, logistics, resupply points, gear. Continued training in MMA, extreme survival and long-distance endurance.

The final phase deals with planning and logistics. In this phase I’ll plan and purchase equipment, rest and resupply stops and conduct quick recon trips to short-hike key sections of the PCT.

By this phase, I’ll be able to hike a week of 20+ mile days with 50+ pounds on back.

Village and Vision

For pledgers, besides the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to eradicate childhood hunger, they will live vicariously through the hike.

I’ll be tweeting, blogging and sharing the entire venture, from phase one training to the actual five months of hiking from Canada to Mexico. Technology by 2014 will allow me to do a weekly “thru hike webinar check in”, post numerous videos from the trail, tweet images and thoughts – you name it. I’ve already launched a second blog, called Strength Hike 2014, where I journal this entire venture.

My intent is to 1) generate a sizeable contribution in the fight against childhood hunger and 2) build a tight-knit community of visionaries through the experience.

What I Ask For

I seek your encouragement.

I won’t be able to make this happen alone.

Please contact me at jkingman (at) anytime.

Strength Hike 2014 is 35 months away.


September 15, 2010

No Kid Hungry

September 19 – 25, 2010 ~ Great American Dine Out

I’ve lived on both sides of the tracks. I’ve lived both broke-as-hell-homeless and pretty well off in my quite full life.

Great American Dine Out

I grew up in Helena, Montana. We were pretty well off growing up, in the upper echelons of local society, entertaining often. I remember, though, visiting friends – other kids who lived in single-wide mobile homes with broken vehicles in the yard. Today, knowing what I know, I wonder how many of them were hungry, especially in the middle of those wickedly bitter cold Montana winters.

I follow @hardlynormal on Twitter, a former Hollywood filmmaker named Mark Horvath, who now travels the country and world documenting and interviewing as many homeless families and folks as he can. Daily, there are stories he tells of young children, homeless and hungry.

In 2004 I traveled to Nicaragua, spending two weeks with a very rural and very poor rice plantation squatters village, helping them to construct a comedor, a community kitchen, from local fieldstone and wood. The comedor was being constructed to provide the children breakfast before school, with five years of donation from the Japanese government. While these were some of the happiest people I’ve ever been with, I witnessed the children hungry.

In 2005, six months after Katrina, I traveled with Mary Sue Milliken (Food Network Chef/Borders of Los Angeles), Floyd Cardoz (James Beard Chef/Restaurant Tabla NYC) and other top industry professionals to New Orleans. By day the participants of this Share Our Strength group bore witness to the total devastation and hunger; by night we discussed it over dinner with Chefs John Besh, Susan Spicer and others.

Nearly 17 million children in America struggle with hunger. That’s almost 1 in 4 kids.

In the world’s wealthiest nation, childhood hunger is simply unacceptable. Hunger impairs our children’s health, growth and development in significant and long-lasting ways.

I’ve long been a supporter of Share Our Strength – they are singularly my favorite organization. In 2007, at the National Restaurant Show Annual Dinner, I was fortunate to spend more one on one time with Billy Shore and his sister Debbie, when Billy was honored by the NRA. I’ve participated in eight Tastes Of The Nation as a contributing Chef and instigated the formation of the Maine chapter (we raised $50,000 from 200 contributors on our first event in 2005).

It only takes political will. Our restaurants are the cornerstone of our society. Restaurants are where we gather around to celebrate joys and sorrows, crossing political and theological fences to be in community with each other. Ending childhood hunger only takes consolidated political will.

Please join me September 19th to 25th for the Great American Dine Out. As part of the No Kid Hungry campaign, funds raised through the Great American Dine Out are granted out to anti-hunger organizations that demonstrate effective work to help end childhood hunger. For more info click here.

Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO


September 4, 2010

Restaurateurs Have More Right Than Ministers…

Leah Chase stood in the middle of her restaurant in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, pounded her fist into her palm and flatly stated “By God, I’m going to reopen.” Six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, fifteen feet from this life-long restaurateur, I watched her eyes, full of fire, grit and bull-dog determination.

Leah Chase

Leah Chase

Leah Chase apparently never ran her restaurant to get rich. When I met her that early spring, she was aged, standing in the utter ruins of a neighborhood with rich history – a history full of music, food and long relationships. As we stood in the chaos of a blown-out restaurant, jumbles of electrical wires and naked framing abundant, the smell of mold and decay rampant six months after destruction, Leah told us stories of the restaurant.

Two of these stories illustrate clearly a thesis I propose to you. The first is from the civil rights era in the sixties. Leah and her restaurant were much younger then and as we stood there in her bombed out establishment (with no federal or state relief in sight), Leah related how she cooked for and served Martin Luther King several times a week, often joining his table for the post-dinner strategy sessions. MLK built community. He was one of those rare ministers that crossed theological divisions to build community in a tour de force display of will. Leah, with her abilities in food and service, helped sustain that effort, and through that work, built local community in Lower Ninth Ward that crossed theological, and political, divides across five decades.

Her next story is more poignant. Within 72 hours of Katrina lashing the Lower Ninth Ward in demolition furies, Leah and a few of her crew gathered at the restaurant. Within a week, Leah and some of her crew were making food for those residents of Lower Ninth Ward that had stayed behind. By the end of the first week, people were gathering at Leah’s restaurant, pinning notes to the beams, searching for those they knew; striving to come together in community again. Leah’s restaurant became the gathering place in Lower Ninth Ward to find your neighbors. Her restaurant was the focal point of rebuilding in tragedy; so much more effective than safety agencies, churches or other entities.

My thesis is this. Restaurateurs and Chefs have more legitimate right to be called “community builders” than ministers, politicians or nonprofits do. In this industry, our establishments are places where people gather; coming together across theological and political fences to celebrate each other’s joys and achievements, mourn each other’s losses and provide comfort and companionship, laugh with friends and family, assist and counsel peers. Our restaurants, from the coffee shop to the neighborhood bar to the casual fast-food to the best dining spots in the world, embody this age-less tenet of our business. We are humanity’s sacred gathering spot.

Since the age of hunters and gatherers, humanity has gathered around the fire. We are the only specie that has gathered around fire and used it to prepare food. Each time humans have done this, we have reinforced the basic building block of community – sharing with each other; sharing sustenance, not only in meal, but also in gathering together.

Today, in this society, it still occurs. It happens every day in our one million plus restaurant locations in the USA. Our specie still gathers and communes with each other in joy and compassion. While often the fire is tucked away in the back of the house – it remains the gathering place. I think as hosts, we often forget this, in the daily struggle with staffing, equipment, suppliers, et al.

How much more village can restaurateurs and chefs build by keeping their right as community builders closer to the chest? How much deeper connections can we assist in forging by recognizing each table as a unique and singular moment of opportunity to strengthen the bonds of community and humanity? And to be frank, wouldn’t a restaurant that pays attention to this enjoy the benefits of greater sustainability?

Three years after standing with Billy Shore, Mary Sue Milliken, Floyd Cardoz, Ron Ruggles and others on that Share Our Strength expedition to Katrina-devastated New Orleans, Leah re-opened her restaurant. I’m humbled that I was able to meet her. I hope my daughters have 1/100th of her spirit and determination in their lives and that they too – are community builders, no matter what their profession.

As always, I welcome your feedback, critique and observations.

Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO ~ Chalkboarder