Okay, I am aware that at first glance “personal autonomy” looks to be a redundant statement. However, it’s just the comment that this particular post is not necessarily a commentary on the autonomous collective of family, but my own personal autonomy and balancing my personal choices and rules with the rules that surround me as a member of society and the groups and collectives that I live inside of.
So, the primary collectives I’m part of are of course, first and foremost, my family, and then secondly, The Grove Street Brewhouse, which is my place of employment, and my home away from home (I’m writing this blog update here, and I’m here on a daily basis), it is the place I come for downtime, when I need to be able to flex my brainspace without the screaming of toddlers or ranting of video-gaming 8 year olds. Let’s face it, no matter how much any parent loves their children, without the option of being ourselves OUTSIDE of our role of parenthood, we quickly disintegrate as individuals.
However, even here at The Grove, I’m not merely an individual. I am a member of a team, personally doing my best to contribute to a business that I love and believe in. My own autonomous rules that tell me how to function, do not necessarily tell me how to best function as a member of this said team. We have to have our own rules that are also flexible to fit into the the structures around us. This does not result in being mindless cogs, this results in the improvement and fluidity of our own lives. To be independent and yet be able to function with a group is one of the most important skills we can learn. For those as fiercely independent and anti-authoritarian as myself, it can also be one of the hardest skills to learn.
Obviously, this isn’t the first time I’ve been part of a “team” of employees. However, I have little problem saying that this is the first business I’ve worked for that I cared about separately from the concept of “not shitting where I eat”. Obviously, the more successful any business I work for is, the more successful I will be. However, this place has acquired such value in my life, that I have to learn how to think of it during the moments where I’m not realizing that that I still reflect back on this business. For the first time I find myself not struggling daily to assert my individuality despite all odds, but actually figuring out how to function more thoroughly as part of a collective that matters to me on more than just a personal level. Which provides me with somewhat of an interesting quandary.
The balance, again, of finding the self-control to set aside my personal battle against authority and allow the love I have for an establishment to reflect in my behavior. Reminding me, perhaps, that my personal arguments shouldn’t be brought up aggressively against people who help the fluidity of this business, and that, regardless of how much I love the beer here, tossing back 8 pints after I get off work might end up causing problems or embarrassment for this place I hold such high regard for, and want so desperately to succeed.
After all, though I am an atheist, beer is definitely the closest thing I have to a god, and in this small, sad, economically struggling little pacific town, the fact that we have a brewery at all is one of the few redeeming qualities. But more importantly the people I’ve met through this place include many of the best people I’ve ever known. From employees to Mug Club members, they’ve become people I consider family, filling out my fluid Ohana. Being myself, this isn’t something I speak of real frequently (except in those embarrassing occasions where I’ve opted to toss back a few too many pints after work), but my soul feels enmeshed in this place, after only about 6 months.
I do hope to run my own sustainable brewhouse one day, and while I don’t really plan to run it in the same way as The Grove, I’ve realized that each place kind of has it’s own personality. And the personality here just somehow feels like home.
This is the difference between working here, at a small, locally owned business, or at a large corporation, in my mind. Large corporations function as machines, mindless, lacking in personality, and using people as cogs, small parts working synonymously to keep the overall machine plowing forward, with little thought or energy. Small businesses, oftentimes, are more of organisms. Employees are the microorganisms that live and stretch and flex within it, impacting and furthering the evolution of the organism, each part autonomous and individual, but reflecting the whole macrocosm. This is the importance of craft beer, and brewpubs. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are machines, not organisms, and the flavor and spirit of their drinks reflect that. Let’s support organisms, not machines.
When I first started this entry, I didn’t mean for it to just be a reflection on The Grove and my place within it, and my personal responsibility to protect and honor it, but that has become very much what it is. Thank you to Tessie and Jeff, and everyone else here for letting me find my place within the organism which is the soul of The Grove, I hope to be a part of it for a long time to come.
So now, I’ll raise a pint of Big Tiny, smell the hoppiness, the rye-malt back, and drink a toast to everyone who’s found themselves with the opportunity to be an autonomous microcosm within the macrocosm of a brewpub, from Busser to Brewmaster; and also, to my own. Grovestreet, long may your kegs be full, and your taps flowing.