Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Karma Krew

After opening Taproot Yoga Center last September, Malia McInerney also was inspiried to establish a local Karma Krew, which, as part of its mantra to "Do Good Things," recently volunteered its time at Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies.

"We drank tea, shared stories, listened to holiday music, soaked our feet in Body Shop baths and sampled the wonderful products," McInerney said. "We basically enjoyed one another's company, which is what Karma Krew is all about."

According to McInerney, the goal of all Karma Krews is to participate in Simple Seva - selfless service - by doing community service projects. She said she discovered the Karma Krew idea while on a Buddhist retreat last January with her friend Scott Feinberg, one of the founders of the national group.

"It was exactly what I was looking for," McInerney said, "a template for which I could be supported and offer support through a broader vision."

To support its vision, the local crew dedicates a service every other month. Its first project was "Our Furry Friends," for which it established a drive and adopted a "pet" polar bear for the center.

"I needed to do something low key because I was consumed with opening the yoga center," McInerney said. "The decline of polar bears and their rapidly changing habitats are on everybody's mind, so this small act went to support that."

And since October centered around women's issues - Women's History Month and Women's Leadership Month - Taproot decided to hold two events to raise awareness. The first was a public yoga and pampering day held at Taproot to provide the opportunity for people to donate Body Shop products to AWARE in time for Christmas. For this, Heather Ollenburg, a local Body Shop consultant, donated her time and profits.

"All of her commission went to AWARE, and she spent the afternoon pampering the women who showed up," McInerney said. "We transformed the center into a Body Shop so people could browse items, try them out and opt to make purchases for themselves or donate products to AWARE if they wanted."

After shopping, McInerney taught a yoga class to approximately 20 people in a large circle.

The second event to celebrate women was held Dec. 14 at AWARE, for which McInerney lead AWARE women in a brief session of yoga, featuring deep breathing and gentle movement, and Courtney Nelson entertained with some basic belly dance instruction.

"We delivered all the donated products to the AWARE shelter and spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon with the women there," McInerney said. "Heather presented a portion of the products to the women who were taking up residents at AWARE that day."

According to McInerney, the estimated retail value of the donations was around $4,000.

"There were a lot of products," McInerney said. "AWARE kept most of it to distribute over time and at special events in the future."

Also at the event, healing touch practitioner Mary Pat Schilly gave AWARE women foot massages and did some foot reflexology. Ollenburg facilitated the pampering with foot baths and hand soaks, and Jodi Neil also volunteered.

McInerney said keeping in touch with other volunteers around the country has motivated her work as Juneau Krew Chief.

"Learning about the amazing impacts some of the other Krews are having helps keep me inspired and feeling good that I'm part of something so much needed in the world," she said.

McInerney also hopes Taproot's crew will continue to blossom in the future.

"The Juneau Karma Krew is a baby," she said. "It's just evolving along with Taproot Yoga, but my goal is to alternate Simple Seva and Community Service Projects every month by next year."

The crew already has several community service projects coming up. In February, they will visit Juneau Youth Services to hang out with kids and help out in various ways. In March, they will help SAGA with one of its outreach projects, and in April, they will do an environmental clean-up project for Earth Day.

"We have a few core volunteers and would like to recruit more in addition to opening up each project to anyone interested in the cause," McInerney said. "The more volunteers the better of course."

Those interested in joining the Karma Krew can contact Taproot Yoga at 523-9848 or e-mail McInerney at Details about specific projects can be found at under the "Events" link, and details about the national Karma Krew organization can be found at

"Suggestions are always welcome, as are volunteers for committee organizing," McInerney said. "We are also open to collaborating with other organizations or committees. Benefactors may include nonprofits, schools, individual community members, the environment, etc. There are no limits."

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