Team del Soul Spotlight : Ren!
A recent grad from Dominican in the last year, I’ve lived in this area for almost five years. When I was in school I stuck to the college campus and studied humanities and environmental issues. Which ties into why I’m here at Cafe del Soul working as a cashier and barista— I feel I can really appreciate that we compost, that we use bicycles for close delivery and fuel efficient cars. Now I’m taking some time after school to go out and explore and learn to support myself while also staying aligned with my values — respecting the planet and nourishing the community I’m a part of.
This job really turned my life around. When I spent time getting a fellowship after my thesis, I kept getting shot down. Even though my teachers continue to encouraged me, the stress of the experience was killing me. This is one of the first jobs that didn’t make me feel that way. The feedback has been so positive and I found I really enjoyed being a part of the community, and feeling like I can do good work.
What do you like best about your job?
I really like talking to people. I like the fact that there are regular customers that come in that I get to learn a little about and make them smile. I feel good promoting what we sell here. This is definitely a place where I want to eat and hang out, and working here I’m part of something I can really appreciate.
I’m also surprised there isn’t one employee I don’t get along with or don’t like working with. Everyone’s a hardworking team player. Everyone’s working together, being respectful and kind. I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s awesome to be in a place where everyone puts in a lot of effort.
What’s your favorite meal from Cafe del Soul?
I always go back to the Nachos de Maria. It’s not too heavy like other nachos, but you get to indulge a little bit. And you’re getting some greens in there, some vegetables. I feel like I’m getting protein.
What words do you live by?
Respect and honesty. I try to be an open and honest person while maintaining respect for myself and others, and supporting this network of life that supports me and everyone and everything that I love. Oh, and patience — because sometimes in working customer service you’ve got to stretch that muscle.
What is your idea of happiness?
This is pretty close to it. My idea of happiness as an individual is feeling like I can support myself and have time to pursue my art and enjoy the life I have and to be present in my life. Engaging with nature is a really big part of that as well.
What is your favorite book?
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. That book really changed my life. Kingsolver is a fairly famous author of fiction, but this is a semi-autobiographical book about a farm she inherited in the Appalachians, and how she and her family did what they could to live off the land for a year. It changed how I understood the food industry and how consumers fit into it. CDS really does what it can — serving organic food is a significant, healthier choice. The fact that this is a mostly vegetarian restaurant is really impressive to me. When we make choices to eat a more plant-based diet, it has such a positive impact on the health of the planet.
What is your favorite song?
“Lost Boy” by Ruth B. The lyrics are really moving at this stage of my life — transitioning from being a child to being a young adult, and not wanting to take on responsibility, though you have to. Personally I find that when I do it’s rewarding, but hearing a song like that touches the part of me that doesn’t want to grow up, that maintains the joy of being a kid.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to make someone laugh and really cheer people up and see a brighter side to things. it’s something I’ve struggled with. It’s not a “super” superpower but it can be really tough to do. When you can find a way to laugh and be less serious and have faith in yourself and for the future it helps get through the hard times.