1 year ago

Human Sustainability

It’s time to show up and make space for others. If you’re looking for human sustainability you should get on board and share real stories. It’s a call to everyone in bartending. As the next generation’s gatekeeper, you’ve got to make sure you’re creating spaces for diversity as we open doors to every type of guest.

By @KelseyRamage

Sustainability Educator & Cocktail Consultant

What Does Showing up Mean?

Too often the workplace does not support authenticity, with a yucky taste for backlash and little interest in opportunities for all. 

Showing up means authenticity at work, looking for passionate people who hold diverse, fresh perspectives and challenging antiquated attitudes.

Human Sustainability

At first confused, I started to really get into it at a TED Talk by Jodi-Ann Burey

Burey, renowned for her work, offers techniques for exposing fat-cats and getting real when it comes to on-the-job equality. Her ideas urge executives to take on a commitment to change.

She asked the audience to imagine a Halloween party where the host told you “come as you are.” You wear your jeans, but a friend shows up as Cat-Woman and snags the best-costume contest. Being just who you are makes you feel like an outsider.

The feeling resonates, no matter who. Everyone—people-of-color, whites, introverts, people with disabilities—feel lonely sometimes. 

Getting Authentic

The pandemic was boring and awful. Six months after opening Supernova Ballroom bar, Canada locked down like few other countries. I faced a hard decision. I closed the bar to avoid bankruptcy. 

Supernova Ballroom bar

My marriage was on the skids, irreparably, I was devastated. I felt isolated, unable to share my knowledge. The bar staff was gone and my creative outlet—where I always felt like myself—was shuttered. Everything was gone and now I wasn’t a leader. Had I failed personally, or in bartending?


The story doesn’t get better. I worked during the pandemic, looking to rebuild. But I was so depressed I rarely got out of bed. I cancelled every project. I thought I was destined always to grieve. But I had time to think and that felt like some kind of freedom.


I had time to focus and decided to redo Supernova. I ended up creating a place I’m really proud of, called  Black Lagoon. It’s a goth metal pop-up with drag and unbelievable weirdness. I saw that people who came were like me—outcasts who’d struggled in school.

Black Lagoon bar

Black Lagoon closed a month after pop-up. I learned that if we wanted to protect the LGBTQ and BIPOC community, we’d have to tone things down for the bartenders’ safety. I started thinking.

What do Bars Really Need?

Bartending is capitalist, you’re making money off someone. It’s ableist, too. You’ve got to move when you work. I was a part of the problem. Now I see things we can do to expand inclusivity. I read about anti-oppression and there was something we didn’t have, specifically, training in both anti-oppression and things like diversity, equality and inclusion. 

I researched anti-oppression and realized there is something our entire industry needs. We have to collaborate using anti-oppression training and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training. 

What do Bars Really Need?

A friend turned me on to Natty Fantastic. Its training is more like therapy, learning about self-worth or looking at what I was doing that affected coworkers and the people who surround me.

Don’t Shrug off Brias

Explicit bias is excluding somebody, being racist, ableist or anti-trans. When it happens, it’s a real downer.

Implicit bias is harder to spot. It’s ignorant offenses directed at others. And it does happen in bartending.

Latino bartender serving cocktails

We should be intentional when we’re hiring. Otherwise we fall into giving work to anyone who reflects our point-of-view. When you interview somebody from a different culture, cop to your bias and open doors to people who aren’t like you.

3 Tips for Sustainable Humans

1. Giving weekend shifts to the fastest moving bartenders is ableist. Train everyone to go faster on weekends. It requires time and adequate space. 

2. We must  allow people to question what we’re doing; it helps us improve. Open doors to different people. Create more community where everyone is represented. 

3. Encourage everyone to undertake this journey. If money isn’t a problem, good for you, but if your budget is tight, my door is open. I can point to free resources online. 

When you’re your authentic self, tell your story, admit flaws and embrace vulnerability, it opens doors for other people to take their sustainable journey. When people are comfortable your community moves forward.

When you’re your authentic self, tell your story, admit flaws and embrace vulnerability, it opens doors for other people to take their sustainable journey. When people are comfortable your community moves forward.