This past glorious Sunday I stopped by Turning Natural, a hip new juice bar in the DMV. District Heights to be exact- marked by its hood surname. I had been to this juice bar several instances before, captivated by their afro themed drink titles and mellow island vibes. Wholesome and refreshing- smack dab in the middle of ratchet, which is usually my kind of gig. My normal indulgences include a generously portioned spinach patty and Muhammad Ali smoothie.
However today, I tried the Pitaya smoothie for the first time enchanted by its neon pink hue. Sounds like a great day right? Except I was operating on about 3 hours of sleep from the night prior. Not to mention a draining month of politics, winter weather, and back to back night shifts. And as I plopped on the 70s-reminiscent couch in the waiting area, my good friend assured me that maybe my wish for inspiration just might be fulfilled.
We gathered at a high-top table for our impromptu round table discussion. Environmentalist, internationalist, engineer, and doctor- a mint flavored dose of black girl magic, stimulating and pungent. And then our final member joined, Clint Evans, who just so happened to be co-owner of Turning Natural. He was no less than a neighborhood celebrity to say the least. Dawned in his hip sneakers and cool personality shades, I wondered what exactly inspired him to become such a passionate vegan enthusiast, community healer, and savvy business man. Not long after he sat down he challenged some of my views on western medicine, which was received with mixed emotions. I was on the brink of spitting some hot fiya to the cool arrogance on his tongue. And then he began to bring forth ideologies that I hold dear to my soul. I began to see his vision and what could become of mines.
Our conversation had such wide range, from the ever evolving yet clandestine prison industrial complex, to education, to new age agriculture, and to my personal favorite "black owned businesses". I’ll take a detour to mention how much our community is destitute of financial literacy. And how economic freedom is bigger than any protest. But let’s digress to Clint dropping these gems.
As we pondered out on the lawn beyond the front door he discussed different possibilities, one including a farmer’s market. Even more fascinating was his desire to involve ex- incarcerated men. Let’s face it, when black men leave prison opportunities are scarce and the world is bleak. I know “ex- con gardeners” may sound more like an idea for a reality show, but there was promise in this vision. Which is why I liked the idea even more. What if power was in a juicy tomato or leafy green? What if rooting a plant meant finally rooting yourself back into the community.
And come to find out- you don’t need thousands of dollars to accomplish this. 300 dollars was enough to buy his first juicer, start serving in a church, and create lasting supporters. You can use money to start your own business or you can learn how to touch the people first. I know a lot of us think that touching the people begins with our computer keyboards. And it’s true that a status may muse the mind temporarily, but building roots in the community can last a lifetime. 2016 has drained many of us. But what will be the legacy of 2017?
We often look to our government for saviors, when this approach has constantly failed us in several realms. But now more than ever, this is the time to start looking from within. He remixed and re-introduced this concept of civic duty several times throughout our conversation. But ultimately it all meant building and defining the standards for our own community programs. It also means giving back and paying it forward all at the same time. It was at this moment that I discovered why Turning Natural made me feel so warm and happy inside. Out of all the developments in my community, this was the first establishment that actually had . . . value.
This year is about drawing inspiration from positive places so that we can finally build. Turning natural means turning off your computer and turning yourself to the life around you. Turning natural means filling your cup with good things. Turning natural means cleansing the soul. Turning Natural is more than a juice bar, it is inspiration. So get off your butt and go!