GOOD

Why I Nominated Chad Houser for the GOOD 100

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki   I met Chad Houser at a small event during Design Week in Dallas, Texas, where we were both speaking....

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki


I met Chad Houser at a small event during Design Week in Dallas, Texas, where we were both speaking. I’m glad I didn’t have to follow him.

It’s rare that someone can simply talk about what they’re up to and have it blow everyone away, on every level. Emotionally and intellectually, I walked away in awe. I’m pretty sure people cried.

Chad spoke with a quiet strength and intensity that I’ve noticed in chefs who fight the colossal battle that is regularly running a professional kitchen. He shared the story of managing Parigi, one of the darlings of the Dallas food scene, where he held the post of co-chef. But he seemed even more excited to talk about how much he cared about his local community. He had started mentoring at a culinary program inside a local juvenile detention center and witnessed impressive results: The discipline and collaboration required for a kitchen to function was captivating to these kids and gave them skills that would prove valuable once they re-entered the outside world. This planted the seed in Chad for a bigger idea.

In 2011, he launched the first Café Momentum Pop-up Dinner. The idea was to take some kids who’d recently been released from the detention center and train them to fully staff an event—to cook everything, plate everything, and serve everything, all with first-class quality and service. Café Momentum put the $100 tickets on sale and was prepared to lean on friends and call in favors to sell the seats. The event sold out in minutes.

Since then, these pop-up dinners have gone on every month, and Chad has taken the bold leap to leave his respected post and sell his ownership stake in Parigi to run this organization full time.

Today, as Café Momentum looks to build a brick-and-mortar location, it can look back proudly at the countless dinners that have been served and the many young men who have been through the program, men for whom Chad has served as mentor and, in some cases, even family. It’s amazing to see the power of this program—to see how he’s focused as much on teaching the kids as putting on an amazing experience for the guests, and that he considers the reduction in the recidivism rate of his workers to be as important as the food they put out.

As someone interested deeply in the intersection of creativity with social impact, it inspires me to see Chad and Café Momentum out there setting a standard for both.

Casey Caplowe is the co-founder and creative director of GOOD.

Gap has teamed up with GOOD to celebrate the GOOD 100, our annual round-up of individuals at the cutting-edge of creative impact. Gap + GOOD are challenging you to join in. We all have something to offer. #letsdomore

Articles
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less
promo-homepage

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics