Yoga Joes and Brogamats - for dudes keeping the inner peace

Yoga Joes, for the uninitiated, are toy figurines modeled after GI Joes and other toy soldiers.  Except they are molded in classic yoga poses: Headstand, Meditation Pose, Cobra Pose, Warrior One, Warrior Two, Child's Pose, Tree Pose, Crow Pose, and Downward-facing dog.  They are sold in a box imitating a yoga studio.  I had the opportunity to talk to Dan, the inventor – who you can also talk to at hello@brogamats.com.  Visit their website at http://www.yogajoes.com/ and http://www.brogamats.com/ or order on Amazon.com.  – Aaron Brachfeld

Aaron - - - Tell me about what led to your inspiration for Yoga Joe and your Broga Mats?  How did the thought occur to you?
Dan - - - When I was having coffee with my friend Paul Simmons (an SF standup comedian), we tried to brainstorm funny ways to make yoga more appealing to men. We were think dogs doing yoga? no. The Hulk doing yoga? no… And then it hit us like a ton of bricks - army men doing yoga! Their little platforms could be replaced with little green yoga mats. And the classic green army men toys were already in very similar gestural poses to yoga. For example, the "Warrior Two" pose was inspired by an army man throwing a grenade. Or the army man crawling through the trenches kind of resembles a "Cobra Pose." So the Yoga Joes were officially born in a San Francisco coffee shop.

Brogamats began one day when carrying my girlfriend's pink yoga mat to yoga class, I joked that I should design funny yoga products to make men feel more manly about doing yoga, since its widely considered a "chick sport." So I started making manly yoga bags and mats, like a giant burrito or a giant log (downward-facing log). It honestly started out as a joke, until one of my friends said to me "no Dan, you should do that."
So basically, I'm inspired by the people around me.

Aaron - - - Tell me about what kept you motivated through the difficult process of getting Yoga Joe and the Broga Mats manufactured? 
Dan - - - I often have half-baked silly ideas that I loose interest in quickly, but every once in awhile there's an idea that is too good not to finish. An idea that is annoyingly good. It keeps buzzing in your ear, not being made real yet. Yoga Joes was one them. It just had to exist. It was same with the Burrito yoga bag, I just had to see it be real.
I also am very lucky to have very supportive friends. They kept me going, and encouraged me to take these things all the way.

Aaron - - - What were some of the difficulties you faced in bringing your product from imagination to reality and how did you overcome them?
Dan - - - Namely the money was a challenge. I didn't have the very steep setup costs to create Yoga Joes. In order to mass produce a plastic injected toy, you need to forge a mold out of metal, which was estimated to cost between 40K-60K.
I also didn't know for sure if anyone would really want Yoga Joes. Some of my friends told me I was crazy, that Yoga Joes were funny, but no one would ACTUALLY buy them. So I turned to kickstarter for funding.
I was partially asking a community of strangers, "hey guys, is this a good idea that is worth pursuing?" $108,000 later, I began production. 

Aaron - - - Would you share a little about your own practice of yoga: how does it help you on a daily level, how did you begin to practice yoga?
Dan - - - Yoga lets me forget everything, except what is right in front of me. Believe it or not, launching a funny yoga business can be very stressful; I mentally work on it 24 hours a day. My brain often does not shut up at night when I'm trying to sleep.
But the practice of yoga, forces me to stay in the present. There's just no time to be distracted, I have to keep up with what's going on right in front of me (and the gobs of sweat pouring down my face). There's no time to worry about anything else.
And in that moment of mental silence, I have some of my best creative thinking. I find myself the most clear right after yoga.

Aaron - - - Your products are geared toward a mostly male consumer in what is increasingly a female dominated market.  Why is it important for men to practice yoga?  What are obstacles men face in practicing yoga that women do not?
Dan - - - Yoga Joes and Brogamats were inspired by the fact that I love yoga, but as a guy, I never thought it would be for me. I've found yoga has had incredibly restorative effects on my back pain. Every time I do yoga (about every 1-2 weeks), it basically "resets" my back.
I'm a dude, and it took a bit of a leap of faith to attempt a sport that was seemingly dominated by women. Sure, t was awkward at first, but it was so very worth it. And so, I wanted to make funny yoga products that essentially lowered the barrier to entry for people, who might not readily try yoga, like men, boys, and military veterans.
I hope that the next generation of boys get into yoga. That was the point of the Yoga Joes - to include a generation of boys that yoga practice can be for them too.

Aaron - - - What encouragement would you offer to someone else starting a business (yoga related or not) during the inevitably difficult first few years while brand is built?
Dan - - - Seek out like-minded people on the beautiful forum of the internet. Resources like reddit and kickstarter allow you to shop around your ideas, and people are willing to help you with free advice. Strangers are generally very supportive, and have really good ideas.

Aaron - - - Your bags and toys both seem to be intended toward drawing attention to the user's yoga practice and encouraging a pride in yoga.  What makes you proud to be a yogi?
Dan - - - This entirely began as me spreading the word about a cure for backpain. Every time my back starts to hurt, from sitting at my desk all day, I do yoga. It basically "fixes" my back. This was a major discovery - because everyone I know complains about backpain. Namely, my father. If this exercise was the solution to the modern ailment of backpain, I had to tell people!
Aaron - - - Finally, I would ask you do please relate the stories about how your products have so deeply impacted people, especially the interesting story you hinted at regarding the soldiers...
Dan - - - This project became bigger than me. At first I thought it was a joke in a coffee shop. But I never knew there was such an enormous global community of people in the military that do yoga. Messages poured in from armies all over the world (not just my home country) from like-minded people in military that have found benefits in yoga, and wanted to convince others to do the same. There's something to do with the physical training and discipline of a soldier, on a universal level, that grooves well with the practice of yoga. I quickly realized I had stumbled upon something bigger than myself.
One Captain from Afghanistan messaged me that he likes to encourage his troops to do yoga after going out on patrols, because he "likes to play peace after playing war."
The other really funny story was a big order of many sets of Yoga Joes, for the Canadian Defence Department. Someone had bought it for their entire office - in the "Conflict Resolution" division.
In all honesty, I had no idea that this project would take this shape. I've received messages from families who are trying to reconcile life after service, and how yoga is helping them move forward. To have a product that can relate to them in any way, is so much more than what I intended for when launching this project.

I've also had the ability to connect with some pretty amazing non-profits, like Veterans at Ease and Connected Warriors. They're using Yoga Joes to raise money for more yoga in military communities. We even sent a big batch of Yoga Joes to Afghanistan so a bunch of soldiers at the Bangra Airfield would be encouraged to sign up for an introductory yoga class. It was pretty cool to see that happening.

Prairie Dogs and Mall are both doing well

I spoke with Peter Cudlip of Alberta Development about the Castle Rock Promenade:
Blocks 7 and 8, located at Factory Shops Blvd. and Meadows, are well under way. The building structure is going up now. We will be turning it over to tenants in late September.  In addition, after all the prairie dogs were removed on July 13 with the cooperation and support of Growing Ideas, we started mass grading and installing utilities. The buildings on the balance of the project will start going up this fall. We expect to have tenants moving in by the second quarter of 2016.

I also spoke with Deanna Meyer of Wildlands Defense about how the prairie dogs (which were slated for destruction, but which Wildlands Defense was able to relocate) are doing:
After 6 weeks of working long hours in the field, Growing Spaces and WildLands Defense have successfully relocated the remaining prairie dogs off of the Promenade site and into their new home in Sedalia. It was an amazing experience to be a part of a movement that saved hundreds of prairie dogs that otherwise would have been churned under the heavy machinery of "progress" with their fates sealed in concrete. When we began this campaign, we never imagined that so many individuals would come together and fight as hard as we did for the existence of this amazing keystone species. With the help and support of these caring individuals and with the continued insistence of prairie dog advocates, we successfully accomplished what many people believed was impossible. Alberta Development did delay the construction of this mall until the remaining prairie dogs were safely and viably relocated.
I have the privilege to witness these survivors on a daily basis. This relocation was 100% successful and the prairie dogs are gaining weight, playing, jump yipping, stretching and beginning the long process of building new burrows that ensure their existence with connections to a new land base. I have witnessed many new hawks, owls, eagles, foxes and coyotes that continually visit this area. Our horses prefer to graze on the land the prairie dogs feast upon, and this amazing keystone species has benefited all elements of the land in just a few short weeks. Watching these prairie dog families has taught me many different things about how we, as a human community, need to educate ourselves out of myths and insist on coexistence that ensures the survival of other species.
In the past year while working on this campaign, I have learned so much about the prairie dog and prairie habitat overall. As I watch the cancerous growth of Douglas County and continue to witness the mass annihilation of the remaining prairie dog colonies in this area, my heart breaks as millions of years of soil and land is churned over and destroyed for tract homes and development. The prairie dogs are an integral part of wildlife that hold these fragile natural communities together, and I hope people will take this example and continue to protect the last remaining open spaces of Douglas County from growth and destruction that in turn will allow the hundreds of species many of us have grown to love to live out their existences on this beautiful landscape. We can stop this monstrous growth, but we all have to work together to put policies in place that ensure those protections. We must protect what little is left of our democratic process and continue to insist in our right to determine the future of our one and only home.

Leon finds a pot of gold

Photographs by Nick Lucey. Nick Lucey provides photographic and web design services at NickLucey.com
By Aaron Brachfeld - - - Castle Rock’s pot of gold has drawn the attention of residents using the Plum Creek trail. 
On August 24, the pot of gold was noticed by Nick Lucey, who posted a picture of it on Facebook.  The community reacted with curiosity, with some residents wondering if it was some kind of social experiment, but others concerned that it was the property of a transient resident and should be safeguarded.  By 5pm, some younger residents attempted to take it, but were dissuaded by adults on the trail to leave it for someone else who was in greater need.  Police also showed up on the scene to check things out.
And there was concern voiced by many residents that the pot of gold would be taken by “someone in want, not in need.” 
On August 25 at 8am, the pot of gold was noticed to have been emptied.  Something similar happened in the Stock Market that day.  Some people actually expected the pot of gold to go undisturbed through the night.
On August 26, the pot of gold was up to about $5.
And then it was taken by Leon.
Citizen reporter Nick Lucey met Leon.
“This is Leon,” said Lucey. “Leon is going to use the 5 bucks in the "Pot of Gold" to get some food, or "energy" as he calls it, to help him get down to Colorado Springs. He didn't take it all -- he left a few pennies, explaining, "You don't take all the water out of a well; you leave some there so the next guy can prime the pump and get some water." I gotta say, I feel pretty good that the pot is helping Leon accomplish his mission.”

No term limits work great in Washington and 3rd World Countries


Brutal assault in Rocky Mountain National Park

By Kyle Patterson - - - On June 30, 2014, National Park Rangers, with assistance from an officer with the Estes Park Police Department, responded to an incident in the Upper Beaver Meadows area of Rocky Mountain National Park.   A suspect, later identified as 36 year-old Adam Harvey from Bancroft, Nebraska, was located, arrested and charged with Assault, Resulting In Serious Bodily Injury.   The victim was a 64 year-old man. His name and home town will not be released.  The victim was alone, enjoying the night skies, when he was approached and brutally assaulted by Harvey.
     Following an investigation by National Park Rangers, the US Attorney's office prosecuted Adam Harvey, resulting in the recent sentencing of 26 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.  He is in custody, and was remanded at the hearing’s conclusion.  

     According to Chief Ranger Mark Magnuson, “While Rocky Mountain National Park, visited by over 3.4 million annually, is statistically a safe place for park visitors, serious crime does occur.  When a crime like this happens, we work hard to ensure that the victim is afforded justice. We are pleased that Mr. Harvey will be held accountable for the assault.”

Recycling Drop-Off in Castle Rock is privately funded

Castle Rock, Colorado - - - Chuck Wilson and the Douglas County Senior Foundation are the only reason that many Castle Rock residents have the ability to recycle their trash.  
He started the only public drop-off for recyclable items while working with the Senior Center when, one day, he became aware that the $15 per month pick up fee was too expensive for some seniors.    
Then he learned that most area residents don’t even have the option of paying $15 for pick up!
The drop off is at the Douglas County Schools Parking Lot at 701 Prairie Hawk Drive “We got started with a single dumpster,” explained Wilson.  “In just 6 months, we grew to 7 dumpsters.  We usually fill most of them by 11am.”
The recycling drop off opens at 9am.
The dumpsters are only open one day per week because the drop off receives no public support; run by the Senior Center, it is entirely supported by private funding.  Yet it benefits more than just area Seniors.
“I’ve been recycling since 2009,” said the elderly Wilson.  “I would have recycled for longer than that – I’ve always been interested in it.  Recycled material has value – and we don’t need anything added to the landfill.  We don’t want people to put into the garbage what can be reused.”
     If you would like to support Wilson and the Senior Center in providing recycling to Castle Rock, donations are tax-deductible and may be mailed to the Douglas County Senior Foundation: PO BOX 692 Castle Rock 80104.

     If you would like to encourage the City to support the public service, contact your Councilmember.

Elbert County is bad for business

     Elbert County is again providing notice to local hay farmers that hay sales are not permitted on agriculturally zoned lands.
     Recently, in 13CV100, the question was brought before Elbert County District Court. And while certain aspects of the matter remain for decision this October, a general examination was made by Judge Spear on January 14, 2015.
     In that case, Elbert County focused its objections upon the commercial aspects of storage (business and commerce are defined in Elbert County as the exchange of goods or services for remuneration) (ECZR II(25)). 
Judge Spear ruled partially in favor of the County, and partially in favor of the landowner in that case, finding that “if there is no remuneration, there is no commerce, [...but landowners] must obtain a special review permit to profit from sales or distributions of hay they do not produce on their properties” (Page 8-9: section 5, paragraph 2 and 4 of the Order).
     In the same case, Elbert County had objected to the sale of hay produced on lands not adjacent to lands where they were being sold, but  Judge Spear firmly defended the landowner, concluding “agricultural sales, regardless of where the sales take place, are a use by right in A-zoned properties for agricultural items produced by the landowner” (Page 8-9: section 5, paragraph 4 of the Order).
     The case has its roots from June 1, 2009, when Elbert County determined that selling hay grown on non-adjacent lands was a “Home Occupation,” and
provided notice to the landowner that he was in violation of regulations requiring “there shall be no outside storage on the premises of materials or equipment used in connection with the home occupation that is not fenced or enclosed” (ECZR II(23)(B)(3)). 
However while the question of whether a barbed wire fence constitutes a fence was answered affirmatively in 12CV270, the question of whether this may be applied to the home occupation regulations will be answered this October.
     In October, the Judge will also deliver an opinion of whether a hay farmer may employ help in hay farming and sales, whether adjacently or non-adjacently to the point of sale – an activity which Elbert County has objected to.
It should be clear by now that Elbert County hates hay farmers - and is bad for business. 

​Part-time Soccer Coach for Kids at the MAC in Castle Rock

(Must be at least 16 years old to apply)
Part Time: $11.50/hour
We are looking for fun, energetic individuals to teach fitness and some minor soccer skills like kicking and running to kids AGES 15 MONTHS-12 YEARS. NO SOCCER EXPERIENCE NEEDED!

Does the idea of working with fifteen 2 year olds sound FUN to you? Want to come to work but not feel like you are working because you are having so much FUN teaching kids? Does roaring like a tiger and making kids laugh sound FUN to you? If so, this is the place for you!
We are looking for extremely energetic, outrageously FUN, outgoing, high-energy instructors to join our team. We are searching for someone who interacts extraordinarily well with young children in a NON-COMPETITIVE environment, while sharing their passion for soccer and physical fitness.
Early childhood development and some experience with youth are desirable but not required.
Looking for instructors who will commit at least 6 months - one year to the program.
Part time position. 4-6 hours per week.
Must be available Saturday mornings. Hours will increase commiserate with performance.

Some other requirements to be a part of our team:
- MUST be very outgoing and have the ability to talk to both parents and kids
- MUST like working on a team, but also be able to be productive working on your own.
- MUST have a HIGH energy personality...if you have to think about this one, you probably don't make the cut!
- MUST have the ability to be crazy FUN and HIGH ENERGY!

Check out our website at www.coloradosoccerbuddies.com to learn about our amazing local program! After reading through our content, if you feel you are a great candidate for the position, please forward your resume and answer the following three questions:
1. What applicable experience do you have pertaining to this job?
2. What about this position was appealing to you?
3. What can you contribute to our program and our high-energy team of instructors?

FBI background checks will be performed on all new hires. Please also have references ready.
--
Julie Colangelo
Soccer Buddies 

American Sign Language

August '15 issue!

This month…Elizabeth Park District’s Administrator is threatened, and speaks out! Denver Judge strikes down Secret Courts defending Commissioner Rowland as “Orwellian!” Check out our Phototours of Danshui and Castlewood Canyon! And, recalling the JeffCo School Board after they rewrite history, Commissioner Rowland promises to “push back” against judicial and public oversight of his illegal activities, Elizabeth Mayor Hurst is hard at work, Bernie Sanders looked pretty spiffy, 2 difficult rescues at Rocky Mountain National Park (at the Pool and Emerald Lake), RMNP is bigger now too. Gary Green remembers when the CMA came to town, and encourages everyone not to be afraid to live. We hear from our India correspondent DEEPAK MORRIS about life in Pune, and from Josh Friednash about his recent trips around Taipei and the Mainland – and encourage everyone to please not poop in the bushes. We hear from Senior Foreign Correspondent Iain Thomas about the Evil Dolls of Japan. Our ongoing coverage of Marijuana includes the death of Levy Thamba, and a review of medical literature that suggests Medical Marijuana is ineffective and dangerous. West Nile is back – and risks permanent disability. We explore Denver’s Highline Canal – and learn about a local animal rescue. How did Hummingbirds shape modern Mexican space exploration? Translated excerpts from the Sutta Nipata and Majjhima Nikaya (and other Buddhism), wisdom from renowned Swamis and Siromanis (and other Hinduism)…and something very strange in men’s fashion.