[This is a series of articles on reflections & ruminations on striving for mindfulness as a founder / entrepreneur.]
For the first time in a while, I shared the MUNI story to an audience at the MUNI Meetup MNL: Kickoff 2017 at Poblacion last February 4.
Unbeknownst to many, even to merchants who have been joining our MUNI Market since 2014, MUNI really began earlier, in 2012, as an outlet for an advocacy: to empower people to make more conscious, impactful choices with how they shop, eat and live day-to-day. And so, allow me to share, similarly to how I did during the meetup, about the story of MUNI so far.
2012: EXPLORATION (Planting the seed)
MUNI’s story began as with any good story, an apparently sudden change in the protagonist’s environment and/or her attitude towards it. I was going through my quarter-life crisis, having worked on a business for 5 years, and questioning its importance to me and significance in the world, especially after fortuitously seeing the Story of Stuff once again, and reading about the SM Baguio tree-cutting issue that summer.
I wanted to see a world where people wanted to do things that were good for their community and the planet. In my own way, I wanted to contributing to the end of mindless corporate greed, and the creation of a culture of caring and empathy for the earth and its inhabitants.
I wanted to create something like what the MUNI Market is today, but I didn’t know where to find all these like-minded people yet. And so, in November 2012, I just decided to write about the people I did know, and the other ways I felt we could live more consciously.
A month later, MUNI humbly hosted its first event, the MUNI Christmas Pop-up, together with Jacinto & Lirio, Lagu, Caleb’s Closet, Vesti, Ella Lama, Geli Balcruz and Abbey Sy at Moonleaf Tea Shop in Maginhawa.
2013: DISCOVERY (Germination)
MUNI gained some traction online, got some airtime at ADB’s No Impact Week. I continued writing articles, put together my first meetup for volunteers, and together, we carried out the kickass #CutTheCrap campaign against cigarette butt litter.
This was a super amazing initiative and experience for the team and our collaborators, and made people know us for bridging environmentalism with creativity (through illustration and music), and we continued to encourage conscious consumption through our articles on crap-cutting and cause-driven business, and host meetups, going as far as Cebu and Iloilo to host our first MUNI Meetups outside Manila.
Also because of #CutTheCrap, one of our volunteers Jonver David also hooked us up with then Moonleaf marketing manager Joanna Cancio to create the coolest, most meaningfullest planners with the 2014 MUNI x Moonleaf Planner with 12 different artist collaborations and themes on living mindfully.
2014: FOUNDATION (Taking root)
Finally, we began breaking some ground for the festival of sorts for cause-driven creatives. MUNI was incorporated this year, and we put the first MUNI Market together at The Grove by Rockwell with a humble 16 merchants, and later again that year in Capitol Commons with double the number.
We kept at our MUNI Market, running it twice a year, while also continuing to do the MUNI Meetups, trying different formats, inviting speakers for richer discussions.
In October 2015, we also hosted the first THRIVE Festival alongside the 4th MUNI Market, and did a THRIVE Festival in La Union too.
Our activities, particularly all the MUNI Markets and MUNI Meetups, could not have been possible without the help of the awesome team of volunteers, and our partners and collaborators, who’ve devoted their time and energy to helping further mindful living.
Coming from cogs set in motion in 2015, I had also joined The DO School’s year-long Entrepreneurship for Good program starting in Berlin from January to March, where I got the privilege to meet 20 others who sought to create cause-driven endeavors for a better world too. While there, I also managed to host a MUNI Meetup on Social Business & Sustainability in collaboration with The DO School and The Philippine Embassy in Berlin, and also a film screening of Poverty Inc.
Meetings we had had with potential partners in 2015 also led to us holding our MUNI Market in Nuvali in May 2016. We also announced this year that MUNI Markets would then be a once a year event instead of the bi-annual markets we used to do, as part of streamlining our activities.
We also continued to carry out our meetups, still experimenting with different formats, until we found one that we felt worked. Now, we hope we can share our MUNI Meetup formula with suitable MUNI Ambassadors.
After MUNI Market 2016 was over, I also decided to take a more deliberate pause, not simply to go on vacation, or do something I had been meaning to do for a while, only to come back to MUNI work after, unchanged. I felt I needed to plan things differently and be more pro-active in finding ways to add to my reservoir of knowledge and experience too, outside of what I had been doing with MUNI for the past few years.
And so here we are now, preparing for MUNI Market 2017 this time, and more importantly, trying to find ways to share more of the MUNI experience and mindset in other communities, first through our MUNI Ambassador program, and by creating more resources on mindful living that people can easily share in their respective communities.
Going back to the core of MUNI, we believe in the power of each individual in impacting positive change for their community and the planet.
We may go through quarter life crises or get preoccupied with day jobs, freelance gigs, love, or other creative pursuits, but at the end of the day, the cause, the community, and the culture of caring that we want to create constantly brings us back home to MUNI.
I thank you for being part of the journey so far, and for reading this far down, and I hope that you continue to help us tread the path towards a more conscious and empathetic world, and help shape our future by joining our community, attending our events, and doing your best to live a mindful life by example in your daily choices.
Let us know how we can better help you on a meaningful journey to mindful living beyond MUNI stereotypes of us going on hippie retreats, and beyond simply buying more “conscious” stuff, by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jen Horn is a wanderer, writer, and founder of MUNI, a community for mindful living. She encourages people to think critically – to ask questions about how they shop, eat and travel, to explore more socially and environmentally mindful ways of living and working, while remaining kind to one’s self.
She writes about psychology, wellness and the environment, and loves veggies, diving and bike-commuting. Follow her at @nomadmanager.