dharma talks

June 12, 2012

Featured Merchant: Back to the Roots

Nikhil  Alejandro Back to the Roots1Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora two months before they graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009. A chance mention of the notion that mushrooms could be grown from recycled coffee grounds sparked an interest in growing healthy food and creating local jobs from what was otherwise considered waste.  With their first successful batch, interest from Whole Foods and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forgoe their plans for investment banking careers to be full-time urban mushroom  farmers!

They have grown rapidly, and are now in over 300 Whole Foods Markets across the country.  Their products and company have received multiple awards, and have a number of incredible achievements in a very short period of time.  Since 2009, they have

  • helped families grow over 135,000lbs of fresh food at home in 2011
  • sustained 10 urban school & community gardens by donating BTTRs premium soil amendment
  • created 14 green-collar, urban jobs in Oakland (and are currently hiring!)
  • set a pace to collect, divert & reuse an estimated 3.6 million lbs of coffee grounds from Peet's Coffee & Tea in 2012, reducing waste and the release of methane, a greenhouse gas about 25x worse than carbon dioxide for our environment

Besides creating access to healthy food and reducing waste, Mushroom-Kit-2Tanother thing we love about them is their committment to their community.  They are constantly teaching "hands-on-sustainbility" workshops in classrooms across the country and hosting school tours for kids to visit their urban mushroom farm.  They also have an ongoing "1-for-1" Facebook Campaign, where they donate a kit & sustainability curriculum to an elementary classroom of your choice for every posted picture with your fully grown kit.

Alejandro and Nikhil are also great guys! We've had the great opportunity to hear them at our local TEDx talk, and Alexia got the chance to have breakfast with them at the spring 2012 Social Venture Network conference.  They are conscious business leaders who are humble, passionate and really funny, and we're so grateful for their well-deserved success and the chance to serve them.

June 11, 2012

Free Authorize.net Mobile App

Authnet mobile appDid you know that Authorize.net offers a mobile application that is free with your Authorize.net account? This app is a great way to process transactions using your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch at off-site events (an Android app is coming soon!). All transactions are recorded in the Merchant Interface and your customers can receive a receipt by email. If you already have an Authorize.net account, here are the steps to get started:

1. Download the free Authorize.net mobile app to your iPhone/iPad

2. Log in to the app with the same username and password you use to log in to the Authorize.net Merchant Interface.

3. Once you log in successfully, the app will issue a prompt that your mobile device is "pending".

4. Log in to the Authorize.net Merchant Interface. Click on "Account", then "Mobile Device Management". You'll see your phone in the list of pending devices and can enable it from there (you'll need Account Administrator access to do this).

5. Go back to the "Account" tab and click on "Payment Form" near the top. Click on "Form Fields" and un-check all items under the "required" column. Scroll down and click submit to save your changes and you're ready to start taking payments!

If you get stuck or have any questions on the app, Authorize.net offers free support at 1.888.323.4289. If you have questions about whether Authorize.net is the right mobile solution for you, just contact us and we'll help you assess this option against other mobile payment options.

June 11, 2012

Goin' Phishin'

Email scams reported by Visa and MasterCard

In an effort to protect you against fraud we want to keep you informed about the latest phishing scams reported by Visa and MasterCard.

Phishing is an attempt to garner secure information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by posing as a trustworthy source in an email or instant message. Links in the messaging will redirect the victim to a website that looks almost identical to the legitimate site. Common sources used are popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators.

Here are two phishing scams going on right now in the payments industry which appear to come from Visa and MasterCard:

Visa Phishing Thumbnail MC Phishing Thumbnail

If you receive either one of these emails, please forward the email or contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The good news is that you can rest assured that Visa and MasterCard will NEVER contact you directly.  To help protect against future scams and those from other sources, here are 6 tips from Visa:

1. Look Closely at the Sender's E-mail Address

Although the "From" line in the e-mail might resemble a valid e-mail address, a closer look might reveal unusual characters that can help confirm that the address is fraudulent. For example, a "-x" after the word "support" is an attempt to replicate a valid support contact email address but is really a fake.

2. Check E-mail Images and Graphics

Images used in fraudulent e-mails are often out of place or are inaccurate imitations. For example a fraudster may not fully understand the payment card industry and incorrectly provide co-branded images or images for the wrong product, such as the Visa Verified by Visa logo and the MasterCard SecureCode logo instead of the card brand logo.

3. Pay Attention to Message Format and Text

Message length, grammar, word choice and sentence structure play a large part in the success of a phishing e-mail. For the example, the brevity of the message and the lack of personalization (e.g., the merchant's name is not used; the sender's contact information is not provided) could indicate that the communication is fraudulent.

4. Pay Attention to Message Tone and Look for Consequences Resulting From Lack of Action

Be aware of the tone used in the e-mail message. Does it demand your attention and indicate that there will be consequences if you do not take action? This is a common thread in phishing messages.

5. Consider Whether the Message Received Seems Out of Character

Relationships with financial institutions develop over time. Through the course of business, you may learn that your financial institutions like to conduct business and exchange information in a particular way. Ask yourself, "Would my financial institution or transaction processor send a message like this?" Or is it more likely that you would receive a phone call or be asked to address the issue over a more secure method?

6. Be Wary of Embedded Hyperlinks

Hovering over an embedded hyperlink should reveal the associated URL. If you don't recognize the URL or if the URLs don't match, do not click on it! Even embedded links for sites that you know or recognize may contain clues indicating fraud (such as hidden characters or other slight modifications), which can be easy to miss. Instead, open a new browser window and type the web URL you know to be right.

May 26, 2012

Dharma Attends May 2012 BALLE conference

BALLE churchWe attended our first Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) conference this past May and had such an enriching experience that we know it will be the first of many. It was held in the beautiful city of Grand Rapids and brought in people from all over the US who are working hard to strengthen their local economies. Central themes of the conference were ownership and collaboration, and the content was completely incredible. Here are some highlights:

We were reminded by Fred Keller of Cascade Engineering, which stands out as a model of the positive change business can acheive, that "we're not ok if we're not all ok".

Malik Yakini of the Detriot Black Community Food Security Network quoted the moving African proverb "I am because we are" during his talk on removing racism in the food system and the physical, spiritual and financial well-being that comes from urban farming.

Charles Eisenstein who wrote Sacred Economics shared the benefits of a gift economy and operating as our connected self, and stated that "a leader is someone who helps you remember what you already know, and helps you believe in it".

Maggie Anderson gently but very firmly pointed out that buying Maggie Andersonlocal hasn't worked in black communities because the local businesses there are not locally owned.  The alarming statistic that business profits earned in a black community stay in that community for a mere 6 hours inspired her year-long committment to shop exclusively at black-owned businesess, documented in Our Black Year.

Alpha Demmellash of Rising Tide Capital shared the shocking and moving story of her childhood in Etheopia that included a year long kidnapping by her father, where it was her ability to love and forgive that literally set her free.  She went on to study at Harvard and create a business incubator for underserved entrepreneurs.

TAri Weinzweighe breakout sessions were hard to choose from but "Leader as Host" and "Servant Leader" stood out and did not dissapoint. "Leader as Host", lead by Deborah Frieze, described an approach of hosting "wildly inclusive" conversations among all stakeholders as a way to create solutions to complex problems. "Servant Leader", lead by Ari Weinzweig, was part of the famous ZingTrain seminars. The session provided many fantastic takeaways, including "your customer service will never be better than the way you treat your employees".

More highlights, photos and videos are on the BALLE site here.  Next year's conference will be in Buffalo, NY. Once considered part of the "rust belt", it is now a thriving city thanks to the resiliency of its residents who understand the benefits of local ownership. We're going and hope to see you there!

May 25, 2012

Dharma Attends Wisdom 2.0 Event

Written by Jeff Marcous

Wisdom 2.0On May 11th and 12th, I attended the first annual Wisdom 2.0 Business conference in San Francisco, which addressed health and wellness in the workplace. Presentations were focused around leading research and applications of employee productivity, well-being, mindfulness, creativity, meaningfulness, and wisdom. Over 300 attendees were actively engaged in the exchange of ideas and practices.  Click here to watch many of the inspiring talks from the conference.

What I got from this weekend was just how business in the Bay chip conley smArea has evolved from the simple bottom line of generating profits as an end result to how the business environment is sustaining the body, mind, and spirits of their employees and customers. So many dominant companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the like have changed how their Human Resources Departments have gone from managing health benefits to promoting good nutrition, mindfulness, and spiritually creative practices. This is completely in line with what the great psychologist, Abraham Maslow, has identified as the Hierarchy of Needs – from taking care of basic physiological needs to self-actualization as the highest goal of the individual.

Dharma Merchant Services was created to foster these higher attributes of self-love, acceptance, compassion, morality, and so forth. We see that business can be the most influential element of an awakened life, hence should contain practices that reflect and inspire the presence of love. What could that look like in your company?

May 19, 2012

Dharma Sponsors Global Exchange Human Rights Awards

human rights awardWe continued our tradition of sponsoring the Global Exchange Human Rights award on May 10th and were so grateful to participate in the 10th anniversary of this special event. It was a festive evening, with silent auction items (we won a signed copy of Chip Conley's just-released book,
Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness + Success), delicious food (and Ben & Jerry's!) and a signature cocktail, Justice 'n Ginger.

There was an appropriate, respectful, somber tone around the Brad-Manning-in-uniform-150x150 presentation of the 2012 People’s Choice Award. Honoree PFC Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst, is accused of leaking a video showing the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also charged with sharing the documents known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs. Bradley has not yet been tried, and was held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. It was a special moment when Daniel Ellsberg, open government advocate and prominent whistleblower, accepted the People’s Choice Award on behalf of Bradley Manning in honor of Manning's courage to stand for what is right. 

annieThe tone went back to festive when our beloved client Annie
Leonard took the stage to accept the 2012 Human Rights Award, acknowledging her 20+ year committment to investigating the true 
cost of our exploitation of resources, usage of toxic chemicals and excessive consumption. If you haven't seen The Story of Stuff, please take a moment to see this incredible eye-opening and entertaining environmental short film. Annie has gone on to produce other films, including The Story of Cosmetics, The Story of Water and The Story of Broke. All are availble to watch for free at storyofstuff.org.

Thank you Global Exchange for more than two decades of activism, education and inspiration, and for creating such a special event to honor the monumental contributions of those working for a more democratic and just world.

See more pics on Facebook!

May 13, 2012

Dharma Attends SF Made's Ramp It Up Event

sf made ramp it upThis past Wednesday night, Dharma was honored to join the rest of the SF Made community at their "Ramp It Up!" event, at one of San Francisco’s great breweries, Speakeasy Brewery.  They graciously opened the doors to their beautiful space, and hosted this event for the community. This was the kick off for a whole week of festivities dedicated to bringing more awareness to local artisans and manufacturers right here in our wonderful SF community.  If you’ve never heard of SF Made, head on over to their site.  They’re a fantastic group of hundreds of merchants who create, distribute, and sell their products and services all within the city limits.

Mayor Ed Lee was kind enough to stop by, and give his support for our local businesses.  He, along with the SF Made community, are advocating to make it easier for businesses to start production within San Francisco by reducing red tape and some of the costs associated with opening a new business.  It was great to see so many passionate manufacturers share their dreams for a new way of doing business, by operating with intention and awareness every step of the way.  The atmosphere was one of excitement, hope, and happiness.

We were wowed by the amazing food and drink selection!  Cellarsspeakeasy brewery 33 wines, Bluxome Winery, and SF Vodka were just a few of the drink hosts, and we got a little chocolate pleasure from Kika's Treats! For the coffee drinkers out there, Ritual Coffee generously shared a delicious new blend, while explaining the intricacies of coffee bean selection.  If you need something a bit more off the beaten path, the Kimchi provided by Sinto Gourmet was simply outstanding!  There were plenty of other fantastic sponsors, and we highly recommend learning more about these fabulous firms and SF Made, and supporting local businesses! 

April 14, 2012

Featured Merchant: Incredible Adventures

Featured Merchant: Incredible Adventures

We’ve had the incredible good fortune of working with Incredible Adventures for years now, and really appreciate all they do.  As an outdoor travel company, they specialize in small group tours to natural and adventurous settings near San Francisco and Las Vegas.  Since 1993, the company has been offering safe, reliable and fun-filled escapes to the great outdoors.

Owners Jolie Ginsburg and Brian Deninger have chosen to incorporate their values for sustainability and social responsibility into their work by focusing on small group tours to minimize their environmental impact, and they also support many local non-profit organizations with the contribution of silent auction support and in-kind donations of transportation.   

Another thing we love about them is that they also use biodiesel! incredible adventures van More than that, they go above and beyond through their co-sponsorship of the San Francisco Biofuels co-operative, which gives people local access to alternative fuel options.  SF Biofuels works on educating the community and providing alternative fuel to community members.  In fact, the co-op and Incredible Adventures helped the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) to implement a biodiesel program for their diesel buses!

To show your support for biofuels, enjoy the great outdoors while helping to keep it great and have your next incredible adventure, contact Incredible Adventures!

April 13, 2012

This Month's Being Game: Being Complete

PART OF OUR SACRED COMMERCE PRACTICE

This Month's Being Game: Being Complete

The book Sacred Commerce defines “getting complete” as restoring full love with one’s self or another.  In the book we're asked to “consider that wherever you are incomplete, it interferes with your ability to be here now”.

This month we are practicing Being Complete by reflecting on what that looks like to each of us, and how we can experience completion and bring our attention back to the present moment.  We are looking at our personal and professional lives and seeing where we are choosing to be “incomplete”, where full love is not restored, and then taking action to get complete.  We are taking on remembering that we don't need anything external to complete us, and that there is nothing missing from our selves.  We are observing where we are putting our attention on what is incomplete, letting go, and shifting our focus to acceptance and perfection.

Here are some quotes from our team on what Being Complete means to them, and what playing the game has been like:

Being complete means loving myself and recognizing that I am perfect.  My doubts, fears, and worries give me the opportunity to be strong, mindful, and present.  My past experiences, lessons and interactions make me who I am today, but I can choose to let go and take on every moment with integrity and intention.

Being complete, to me, means accepting all that is, without the desire to fix – and seeing our struggle with acceptance as perfect in itself.  

I have been incomplete with my partner in that I haven’t been speaking up about how I sometimes feel unsupported and how I sometimes feel like I am not supporting him.  After having this conversation with him, we now know how each other actually feels instead of being in our heads.  As a result we have made a beautiful new commitment to actively supporting each other in all aspects of our relationship!

To me, being complete means recognizing that for every perceived loss there is an equal gain, for every time I focus on what is wrong, I could equally focus on what is right.  Being Complete allows me to recognize this balance and to be present to those ideals that increase love in my life and, consequently, decrease separation.  

Playing this game has allowed me to take on listening to my body more, and believing that there lies the wisdom to heal, achieve balance and feel healthy and happy no matter what is going on in my world.

Being complete is seeing that every interaction is released without any residue of unfinished business – or even the slightest trace of emotional discomfort or disconnection – making sure that there is no love lost in the moment.

As you can tell, it has been a wonderfully healing process for us all at Dharma and we invite you to play with us for the rest of April!  How can you practice Being Complete?

March 21, 2012

Yebuny Brings Sacred Commerce to Canada!

We are happy to announce that our very own Yebuny Johnson is bringing Sacred Commerce to Canada!

Under her new venture Heartwood Consulting and in partnership with Erin Ross of Get That You Matter, Rob Sinclair of Conscious Brands, and Corinne Ann D Cornish of The Inner Realms, Yebuny is bringing Sacred Commerce workshops to Calgary, Edmonton, and Nelson in the province of Alberta, Canada.

We invite you to share these events with your communities and pass along the information below:

sacred-commerce-workshop

Business As a Path of Awakening

We are delighted that Yebuny is helping to spread this perspective of business as a pathway to awakening to other conscious businesses. When our co-founders, Alexia and Jeff Marcous found Sacred Commerce, they discovered the perfect toolbox of practical practices to expand and nurture the intentions of social justice and sustainability. This workshop delivers the tools and practices that have been key to Dharma’s success.

For more information on bringing Sacred Commerce to your business, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information on future workshops Sacred Commerce coming soon!

March 21, 2012

Celebrating the 5th anniversary of Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma-Birthday-lg
Do you know what March 1st is? It’s not Groundhog Day, not April Fools’ day, not St. Patrick’s day. It is the 5th anniversary of Dharma Merchant Services! That’s right, it’s been 5 years since we hung out our shingle as a business. The idea for the company originated from a desire to give back to the community; save merchants from egregious contracts and usury rates; and create a container for our path to awakening. The company name was inspired by the most common definition of the word dharma: one’s path. Literally, the Fourth Noble Truth says that the way out of suffering can be achieved by following the Eightfold Path of right view, intention (thought), speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. We see this path as the highest standard that we as individuals and as a company can hold to insure the integrity of service for our merchants, partners, community, and for ourselves. From maintaining the smallest footprint on our planet to holding our merchants’ and partners’ best interests in mind, we seek to do the right thing, even above our own gain. This is as it should be.

cake-candlesTo celebrate our 5th birthday, Dharma held a rocking party at the Hub in San Francisco. The evening featured organic wine from Frey Vineyards, delicious beer from Schmaltz Brewing, amazing smoothies from Purple Plant Smoothies, delectable edibles from Baladi Gourmet Cafe and Dolce & Salato, and a home-made, gluten-free, mind-blowing cake in the shape of a lotus baked by our beloved Marie Bencivenga. Michelle Bouvier and Becca Fresco from AcroYoga provided a beautiful performance and soothing bodywork, and we were honored by Vince Siciliano of New Resource Bank and Corie McMillan of Cafe Gratitude who shared kind words on what Dharma meant to them. A highlight of the evening was presenting our beautiful and much-improved new website from Earthsite, who accomplished an amazing amount of work in an amazingly short period of time so we could unveil a soft launch at the party. We were so grateful to enjoy this lovely evening with our community and are looking forward to great things in the next 5 years!

March 21, 2012

Dharma Field Trip: Creating Enlightened Society

An Evening with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, written by Nicole Stasio

sakyongsmilesbygaryI was honored to attend a talk on “Creating Enlightened Society” by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche with the Dharma team. My first impression as I was welcomed into the incredible Grace Cathedral was that I was coming into a sacred place full beauty and openness. I wondered what it would be like to be in the presence of one of Tibet’s highest and most respected incarnate lamas – the holder of the royal lineage to the ancient kingdom of Shambhala, a borderless community of meditation practitioners committed to realizing a higher consciousness through wisdom and compassion.

When Sakyong Rinpoche walked in with his contagious smile and stories of his newborn daughter, I was moved by a sense of shared humanity. He shared a stunningly simple message of how to create an enlightened society: with kindness, generosity, and courage. The take-away was that each person needs to respect themselves in order to be kind to others. The way you feel when you wake up in the morning impacts all future interactions. Sakyong Rinphoche recommended that we all take a moment in the morning to evaluate our emotions and recognize how we are being in the world. Every human being can reach inside to see their inherent goodness, warmth and intelligence – and then use that insight to create an enlightened society.

March 14, 2012

Introducing Nicole Stasio

NicoleOur good luck with off-the-charts employees has continued with bringing Nicole Stasio on board. If you’ve had a support issue recently, Nicole is the loving, competent, funny and extremely helpful person that solved your problem. Nicole has astounded us with her ability to learn quickly, maintain grace under pressure and continually reach for inner and outer knowledge.

Nicole shares with us, "I am so honored to be part of the Dharma family and provide support for our community of mission-aligned merchants and partners who are committed to making the world a better place. From Falling Whistles fighting for peace in the Congo to Amazon Watch supporting indigenous people in the Amazon Basin, I am inspired to be a better person every day. I get to come to work in an environment full of love and compassion at a company that gives back and actually cares! I look forward to getting to know all of you better and helping to support your business!"

March 14, 2012

February’s Being Game: Being an invitation to love

PART OF OUR SACRED COMMERCE PRACTICE

February’s Being Game: Being an invitation to love

“Being an invitation to love” was our February Sacred Commerce game. Despite its soap opera-sounding quality, playing this game was not only super fun but was quite the opposite of the drama you might expect!

Sacred Commerce teaches that “being an invitation is… a request to participate, come forward, [and]open up to the possibility of an exchange of affirmations by offering a welcoming and encouraging gesture that signifies, “we want to deal with the real you.” Being an invitation is about simply being the essence of service, which we say is love, with whomever you are interacting. It’s not about making others wrong who may share a different view or denying them compassion or care if they reject our invitation. Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, a German writer, artist, and poly math put it beautifully when he wrote: “Love does not dominate; it cultivates.”

There are many instances at Dharma where we get to practice this. For example because many of our clients have had undesirable past experiences with other providers, they sometimes come to us still holding some fear and may have trouble letting go of it at times. It is in moments like these that we are honored to get to be an invitation to love by simply hearing their experiences, not making them or their previous providers wrong for them, and offering these clients our knowledge and services (our form of love) with respect and compassion. This experience more often than not helps our clients regain trust that they will be taken care of and often leaves us feeling inspired and grateful to have been of loving service. It is amazing what transformations occur when we are an invitation to love and the long-lasting and mutually respectful relationships that are cultivated as a result.

How are you being an invitation to love in your life?

February 29, 2012

SF Green Film Festival – March 2012

SF Green Film Festival – March 2012

The San Francisco Green Film Festival begins next week, March 1 with a slate of films that will intrigue you, enlighten you, maybe even anger you a little, but ultimately inspire you. Join them on a week long cinematic journey which will take you into the depths of a mine in the Congo, through the kitchens of Tokyo’s top sushi chefs, cattle wrangling with rancheros in the Brazilian Amazon, marching on environmental protests in China, and urban farming in Detroit. These are just a few of the places you’ll visit during the festival.

sfgreenfilm-photoMeet with over 50 visiting filmmakers and guest speakers for a lively week of green films and discussions at the SF Film Society Cinema in Japantown. Buy a festival pass and join them for VIP weekend brunches with the filmmakers and special guests.

Download 2012 Festival Program Guide (pdf)

Ready for tickets? Go to the online box office »

The festivals executive director, Rachel Caplan, urges everyone to “Watch Globally, but Act Locally.” We already have tickets to an interesting film titled Cafeteria Man that follows charismatic chef Tony Geraci on his passionate and tenacious journey to overhaul the school lunch program serving 83,000 students in Baltimore’s public schools. Opening the festival is the very timely The Island President, where Bay Area filmmaker Jon Shenk spends a year with President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives as he confronts a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced – the literal survival of his country and everyone in it, due to the devastating impacts of climate change. And the inspiring Urban Roots offers up hope against all odds, in the boarded-up shops, empty lots and defunct factories, where seeds of change are taking root in Detroit. With the most vacant lots in the country, citizens are reclaiming their spirits by growing food. A small group of dedicated Detroiters have started an urban environmental movement with the potential to transform a city after its collapse.

We hope you can come out and support this amazing festival and share in the excitement and entertainment. We look forward to seeing you at upcoming screenings and events!

Photo: SFGFF Executive Director Rachel Caplan and Dharma's Trace Wendell

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