As many of our readers know, we’ve spent the last four years reporting on the progress of the Wellness Movement in our country—publishing information and action items on ways that we can work together to ensure that everyone has access and opportunity for wellness. That’s why we’ve decided to build PolicyWell.com—an online wellness scorecard that will rate every member of Congress on his or her support of National Wellness Policy. We’ve designed a great website that we are ready to share with the world. And we're pleased to announce that we are partnering with Barnraiser.us to make it happen. Our values are closely aligned and you will agree that their tagline says it all; "When a farmer gets a new barn, a whole community gets better food."
What is Barnraiser?
It’s a crowdfunding platform similar to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but oriented toward healthy food and other wellness campaigns such as an artisanal food company trying to raise capital, or an organization (like ours!) trying to raise funds to promote a new approach to health and sustainability. It’s the brainchild of founder Eileen Gordon Chiarello. Ellen's journey to sustainable food and farming comes from her farming family in Northern California, long-time Swiss dairy ranchers and now cheesemakers (you might know her by her family's Pt. Reyes Original Blue Cheese). Earlier this year she was featured in Civil Eats, Fortune, Food & Wine, National Geographic, Sunset, and Forbes among others.
So far, Barnraiser, which officially launched a year ago, has helped farmers, food startups, nonprofits, educators, artisans and others in some 40 U.S. states raise more than $1.2 million through rewards-based crowdfunding. Their varied voices and projects contribute to what Barnraiser’s CEO Eileen Gordon Chiarello describes as “a growing tapestry of stories of America rebuilding itself, one project at a time.”
Here at Wellness Warrior, we admire her work. Barnraiser is on the front lines of the #WellnessMovement with success stories that include leaders like Stephen Ritz of the Green Bronx Machine and our friends at FoodDay. Ellen says;
There are 41 million Americans who align ourselves with health and sustainability. With Barnraiser, we can build the food system the way we want it to be. There are barriers for innovators, but not always big barriers. I love the idea of a lot of people giving a little money.”
Here at Wellness Warrior, we recently collaborated with Ellen's Barnraiser team to seek funding for our latest project called PolicyWell.com. It's ideal in that it connects the wellness community, and is not simply a campaign that asks for dollars—everyone who pledges can choose from a wonderful array of thank-you gifts donated by our community of sponsors...who also believe in the promise of creating PolicyWell.com.
We're in the design phase now, and need funds that will put Wellness Warrior "over the top" in creating PolicyWell's ability to monitor the complex web of bills and votes that work their way through Congress. We can do it—with your help!
Here's the PolicyWell concept, and a preview of PolicyWell's design and usability:
You do your personal part for wellness: you try to eat well, you exercise, you buy products that are healthy for you and the planet. But how do your Federal legislators vote on issues that affect wellness?
That's the question we want to answer... for all Americans... along with letting you know when key votes are coming up, and how you—their constituent—can let them know your position on key wellness issues.
We Stand for a Well Nation
It’s really easy to get bogged down in the negative aspects about the current health and wellness of our nation: over two-thirds of our nation is overweight or obese, there are close to 80,000 chemicals untested for toxicity on the market, we are projected to spend over $30 billion on questionable agricultural subsidies in the next few years, and our growing income gap is proving to be directly related to our lifespans.
On the other hand, there is also incredible work being done to improve these problems. Farmer’s markets are on the rise like never before, consumers are uniting to demand fewer dangerous chemicals in our food, there is a huge movement to protect our pollinators, there is a national push to update regulations on toxic substances, and fitness communities and pushes to “disconnect” from our “plugged-in” lifestyles are growing with fervor. There is proof that we know how to improve the health of our nation and we believe that it can be done if we unite and focus our voices towards promoting policies that support wellness.
We Believe that our Members of Congress Should Stand for a Well Nation Too
We know that our personal wellness depends on our own personal choices, but we also know that national policies can help shape what choices we get to make. For instance, when laws allow for healthier food in schools or more local food production, we can then choose healthier meals. Or when laws make it easy for toxic chemicals to enter into our air, water and soil, it can limit our decisions of when and where to enjoy being outside.
We know all too well that Congress doesn’t necessarily vote with wellness issues on their mind. Often lobbyists, corporate entities and entrenched political ideologies get in the way of creating policies that support preventative lifestyles, create sustainable food systems or keep toxins out of our air, water, soil and consumer products. There are strong voices out there that aim to put profits above human and planetary health.
PolicyWell is the Answer
Wellness should be a national voting issue topmost on the mind of every member of Congress. PolicyWell.com will be the go-to national scorecard based on wellness policy. Your legislators will be scored on a simple 0-100% scale for their support of wellness issues at the Federal level. PolicyWell.com will use publicly available data to rate current House and Senate members based on their voting records and co-sponsorships regarding wellness policy. By simply going to PolicyWell.com and typing in a zip code, a user (you!) will be able to identify their legislators’ PolicyWell.com score. From there, users will be able to learn more about the specific votes of that legislator, the bills and votes on which their legislators were scored, and why those votes are important for wellness.
Here's a graphic of all the issues that come into play...
Through our reporting and our interviews with health wellness experts, WellnessWarrior.org developed a strong understanding of what it will take for everyone in our country to be well. Using that knowledge we’ve done some significant research and digging, and we’ve identified over 30 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate over the past year-and-half that are directly related to wellness. Furthermore, we’ve identified hundreds of wellness policy bills that sit in Congress awaiting more support before going to a vote.
PolicyWell.com will provide a bridge between wellness consumers and our Federal legislative branch. Our goal is to give real and actionable information to voters so they can confidentially go to the polls in November—and every national election—and identify candidates that support wellness.
Support Our Work
We've come a long way on this project, but we need help building a website to house all of our work. Help us create PolicyWell.com—and help change the course of wellness policy in the U.S. and beyond.
As a bonus, we've amassed some pretty amazing gifts from some pretty amazing wellness brands for you to choose from when you donate (and we reach our goal). Thank you to our generous and wonderful members who have backed the rewards for this project. We know you will love them as much as we do.
- Finally, a ‘Kickstarter’ for Sustainable Food Projects via Civil Eats
- Why this crowdfunding site has an 82% success rate via Fortune
- Why Foodies And Farmers Are Flocking To A Crowdfunding Site Called Barnraiser via Forbes
- Barnraiser debuts a Kickstarter-like platform for sustainable food via Seattle Times
- Barnraiser, a New Funding Platform for Good Food via Food & Wine