Mobile Restaurant Goes Plastic-Free

OK Bicycle Shop, in downtown Mobile, is the first restaurant in Alabama to officially join the Plastic Free Gulf Coast initiative that started in Mississippi last year. A launch party during happy hour on July 18 will celebrate their commitment to being plastic-free with drink specials, music and giveaways.

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With funding from the 2018 NOAA Marine Debris Prevention grant, Plastic Free Gulf Coast is focused on reducing single-use plastics, Styrofoam and plastic-lined food and beverage containers within the five Gulf states through outreach, education and improving consumer access to alternatives. “Our economy, human health, recreation and ecology all depend on healthy and plastic free water,” says Plastic Free Gulf Coast organizer Elizabeth Englebretson. “Every step that we take, even if it seems small, has a direct and immediate impact on the pandemic of microplastics and plastic pollution.”

Consumer action is vital and Englebretson’s main focus is to consult with restaurants, businesses and organizations to determine a model for implementing alternatives to plastics that are cost effective and sustainable. OK Bicycle Shop has committed to doing away with single-use petroleum-based plastics and Styrofoam by switching to paper straws, plant-based plastic to-go containers and reusable sushi mats instead of plastic wrap.

Other downtown restaurants are joining the movement by adopting “straws on request” policies, switching to plant-based straws and/or moving away from Styrofoam. Mobile Baykeeper has been instrumental in connecting these businesses to the collaborative, multi-state movement and in the creation of a soon-to-be-released interactive map of all Plastic Free Gulf Coast restaurants.

Location: 661 Dauphin St., Mobile, AL. For more information, email PlasticFreeGC@gmail.com and find Plastic Free Gulf Coast on Facebook.

Chloe Duren: Leading Peaceful Activism

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Following the announcement of a national student-led march for tighter gun control earlier this year, Murphy High School student Chloe Duren, 16, organized Mobile’s March for Our Lives event. In addition to reserving Public Safety Memorial Park, creating publicity, enlisting speakers and carrying out other logistical tasks, she gave one of the most moving speeches of the day.

“I’ve practiced lockdowns and active shooter drills for as long as I can remember,” she said to the crowd of 500. “The first thing I think when I walk into a room is ‘Where am I going to hide?’” Duren called for attendees to register to vote and to vote out politicians who stand in the way of gun control.

With permission of school administration, Duren also organized a walk-out in solidarity with the Parkland students, which culminated in the reading of the names of the students killed in the school shooting. A few months later, she assisted Ellen Sims, pastor of Open Table Community of Faith, in a prayer vigil for local immigrants and community members concerned about families being separated at the Mexican border. The gathering offered an opportunity for prayer, sharing of stories and the spreading of awareness in support of immigrant children and parents. Most recently, Duren was helping a local animal shelter place dogs in homes in advance of Tropical Storm Gordon.

“This young woman is poised, bright, passionate and delightful,” says Sims, who has known her since she was 7. “I’ve been privileged to watch her grow up and live out a commitment to social justice and peace.”

Healthy Living Trailblazer Returns to Mobile

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Virginia’s Health Food Store in Mobile, Alabama is excited to welcome retired nutritionist Betylou Pierce to their staff. Pierce opened the Mobile health food store Naturally Yours in 1990 and for more than 10 years she used the store to help people live healthier lives, often hosting courses on how the body works and heals. She also owned the restaurant Eats of Eden, where they introduced many locals to vegetarian and vegan cuisine and juicing.

Pierce just recently moved back to the area after living in Mississippi for 12 years and she says, “I love educating people about healthy living; it’s my life and I want to share it with everybody.” At Virginia’s, Pierce will work a couple days a week and be available by appointment to help guide customers on a path of wellness.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be working at Virginia’s,” she says. “I’m seeing some familiar faces and having a good time. It’s good to be home.”

Location: 3055 A Dauphin St., Mobile, AL. For more information, call 251-479-3952 or visit Va-FairhopeHealthFoods.com. 

Enroll Your Healing Hands in Massage Therapy School

Alabama Healing Arts (AHA), Mobile’s newest, locally-owned vocational college, is accepting applications for spring enrollment of massage therapy school. AHA educators have over 25 years of teaching experience to assist students in becoming professional licensed massage therapists (LMTs).

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“Therapeutic massage is a beautiful healing practice. It makes a perfect adjunct therapy to many healthcare professions. This fulfilling career allows for great flexibility, versatility and creativity. LMTs are becoming more and more in demand each year,” says owner Kelly Laurendine.

Evening massage classes are scheduled to begin in April, and daytime classes in October. The 650-hour curriculum meets state requirements for preparing students to become licensed therapists. This interactive massage program emphasizes hands-on technique demonstration and practice, includes specialty techniques, fundamental sciences, student clinic and outreach practicum. AHA currently has a 100 percent pass rate for students taking the licensure exam.

AHA also offers 200-, 300- and 500-hour yoga teacher training, and three levels of reiki certification which may be purchased individually, and for continuing education.

For more information or to request an application, call 251-753-1937, email AlabamaHealingArts@gmail.com or visit AlabamaHealingArts.com.

A Purr-fect Yoga Class for Cat Lovers

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In conjunction with Project Purr Animal Rescue, Synergy Yoga & Pilates, in Mobile, is hosting Yoga With the Cats from 9 to 10:15 a.m., on November 11. In this fun yoga class, students meet friendly Project Purr cats and kittens during their yoga practice and a portion of the proceeds benefits the rescue group.

“This class offers an opportunity to experience the energy that only a friendly furry feline can provide, support a worthy cause and leave class with a smile on your face,” says teacher Chris Garrett, who owns Synergy with his wife Dana.

Synergy Yoga & Pilates has been serving the community as Mobile’s first fully dedicated yoga and Pilates studio since 2005. The studio offers multiple yoga formats (Ashtanga, hatha, restorative and gentle), both equipment- and mat-based Pilates, plus MELT Method self-care for active living. All are taught in both private and small group settings.

Dana says, “Our only goal for our students is to walk out of our studio after a session feeling better than when they walked in.”

Cost: $12 drop-in rate; $8 for full-time students and seniors. Location: 3152 Old Shell Rd., Ste. 2, Mobile, AL. For more information, call 251-473-1104 or visit
Synergyoga.net.