The Genesis Project: A New Beginning for Many

Have you ever felt like you were made for more– more than you’ve been given or more than you’ve made yourself to be? Maybe you feel unsettled in your current job or feel that you are being called out of one thing into another, without knowing exactly what that is. Maybe, your discontent is leading you to something new. You are not alone. Often new beginnings require a sacrifice of comfort and security but reward you with new hope for a better future.

This is the story of many who have found a new beginning in an uncommon place.

Nestled in the Northeast part of Fort Collins, neighboring a trailer park and other industrial businesses, stands a building that has seen much renewal and several new beginnings over the years. The walls of this building first housed the Safari Supper Club, a formal restaurant with live music in the evenings. Not long after, this same building turned into A Hunt Club, a family-owned strip club, left run-down and dirty.

Today, the sign in front of this same property reads, “The Genesis Project,” representing the newness of life and the transformational beauty of new beginnings. The mission is simply stated, yet full of depth for the individual in its doors: The Genesis Project exists to create a space where people can discover new beginnings through transforming relationships with Jesus and others.  

Genesis Project

The Genesis Project did not find its beginning as an initiative formally formed by businessmen. The heartbeat of the Genesis Project was birthed from one man’s discontentment in the present and a desire to make a difference in others’ futures.

Rob Cowles came to terms with his own discontentment in the midst of his comfortable career and lifestyle. Rob had spent many years in ministry, including volunteering with at-risk kids, and spending time in juvenile jails leading Bible studies. He moved into a high-tech job and pastored a church in Colorado Springs. In all of these positions, he was consistently drawn to people who no one else wanted to reach. In 2008, Rob heard a message from Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Mission, challenging him to live bravely in the way of Jesus. This message dramatically shifted the way he viewed his vocation.

Soon after, Rob visited a good friend who had moved to Utah to start the first Genesis Project and reach those who had been neglected and hurt by the church. Rob immediately felt a connection to the people who filled this place– the homeless, drug addicts, misfits, and abandoned. As he listened to their stories, he heard of freedom and transformation that had occurred in the lives of the broken through living in relationship with others. They shared their stories without shame and spoke with the hope of who they were becoming.

Around the same time, Aaron, the owner of the family-owned strip club, was feeling the tension of running a topless bar as he had recently started going to church. The two didn’t seem to align. Aaron wanted to shut the strip club down and sell the building to a local church. He desired a new beginning for this place.

Aaron and Rob’s stories intersected when Aaron approached the Pastor at Timberline Church, where Rob was the Executive Pastor at the time. As the three toured the building, Rob was brought to tears at the heartbreak of the reality of what had gone on inside, and the excitement of what could start anew.

Today, this is the place where people gather, in the midst of their brokenness and imperfections, showing up just as they are, because they know their fight for a new beginning is worth showing up for. As Rob says, “We want to be an embedded church– embedded in the community and embedded in the lives of people who are hurting and broken, which means we are going to invest in long-term relationships and celebrate when it’s great and be there when they hit the bottom.”

On weekdays, the Genesis Project partners with organizations like the Matthews House to provide after-school homework help for students, and throughout the summer kids are welcomed to Kids Cafe, a 2-hour program including a free meal and recreation. Each Sunday morning, the Genesis Project hosts 3 church services, filling a small sanctuary for worship and a message generally taught by Rob. Rob believes the best sermons are when people share their personal story. Vulnerability provides a bridge between individuals, connecting life experiences and affirming the brokenness that we all try to hide.

Genesis Project
Rob Cowles sharing a message at a Sunday gathering

Stories become a catalyst for change– for new beginnings– when we give others the strength to share and speak the truth out of their brokenness. This encourages others to come as they are, in boldness and sincerity. Rob has said, “If we can share our story from a platform of brokenness than we share this unity called humanity that we can strip away all the facade and be real enough to say, ‘I need you and you need me’ together let’s continue to we can empower each other to write a different story.”

Inside, Genesis Coffee operates as an extension of the relational mission of the Genesis Project through the week to create opportunities for at-risk youth and provide a holistic beginning. From the design of the open-seat coffee bar to the volunteers who serve while engaging in conversation the whole vision is to employee at-risk youth and teach them the trade of being a barista– the job skills and relational skills that create the best employees.

Genesis Project
Brett Prior, Director of Genesis Coffee

Brett Prior, the Director of Genesis Coffee, has a passion for the craft of coffee, the ingenuity of creating something of quality and sharing that with others. “We believe that quality is achieved through constantly learning and educating, care, intent, and perhaps most importantly, time. This may go against our instant-gratification, push-button, microwave culture, but we feel that it is the only way to provide the most enriching experience,” said Brett.

In efforts to become further embedded in their community, the Genesis Project purchased a trailer and will have two interns living there to develop relationships with residents. Their hope is to collaboratively figure out what the needs are and how to solve them together, and how to come alongside and make the community better.

As Rob said, “We’ve chosen to be a place that’s not safe. We feel called to go to the darkest places and if you’re looking for safety and comfort, first of all, I don’t think you find that in following Jesus. But you definitely aren’t going to find that here.”

New beginnings often come at a cost– sometimes sacrificing comfort and security, sometimes leaving behind what is and what was, to pursue what can be. Aaron left his business for a redemptive beginning of this building. Rob left the comfort of his career to pursue relationships in a broken context. The people of the Genesis Project continue to leave behind the labels of who they were in exchange for who they are becoming.

As Rob commonly quotes, “God loves you right where you are, just as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.”

Wherever you find yourself, in a season or joy or discontentment, press in. When we are living with open eyes and hearts, this is when we find new beginnings. No matter how broken or disrupted your life has become, either by your choices or the choices of others, there is hope for a new beginning.

Written by Sarah Brase, Writing Specialist at Story On




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“If You Love Someone, Get Them Cheese.” A Tale of The Fox and The Crow…

In a world of hustle, drive-thrus, and online ordering, we often overlook the value of slowing down to enjoy created experiences. Ones where we take a breath and sit to savor what’s in front of us. These experiences engage our senses, allowing us to take note of exceptional service, quality of food, and share in conversation with our company. This is especially true in the service industry and it is what sets apart the good and the outstanding business. And that is what Tina and Alan Mooney set out to create through The Fox and the Crow.

The Fox and The Crow

Four years ago, Tina and Alan Mooney moved from rural, small-town Connecticut to the city life of Fort Collins. With backgrounds in carpentry, teaching, and fitness training, both Tina and Alan spent much time discussing what their lives could look like settling in a new city with more opportunities than where they came from. Several ideas were thrown around including joining friends in their venture to open a new brewery, and another to start a heavy-metal themed food truck serving donuts to locals.

It was on New Year’s Day 2014 when conversation formed between Tina and Alan around opening a local cheese shop. Their love for entertaining and hosting confirmed their decision to enter the service industry. With little experience in business and limited knowledge about cheese, they knew there was a lot to do and learn before they would hang an “Open” sign in their window.

Tina gained her knowledge and experience with a variety of cheesemongers at an intensive cheese school in San Francisco, where on average they consumed 50 kinds of cheese per day. It was there that Tina began noticing how art history, her studied background, connected so closely to the cheese industry. Both have an origin, whether an artist or cheesemaker, and each bear a story of process– how it was created or pasteurized. This storytelling mimicked in cheese-making would later be foundational in their business model.

After returning to Fort Collins, Tina discovered the Small Business Development Center in town whose mission is to simply help existing and new businesses develop and become successful. Through SBDC’s classes and networking opportunities, Tina learned the importance of research–  not only know about logistics but the importance of research in getting to know her customer-base and what they wanted. Tina knew she couldn’t walk around with blinders, ignorant to what her potential customers were looking for. They would be her greatest resource for building this business and catering to her public.

Tina spent long days standing outside of local stores surveying the public about artisan cheese and their views and frequency visiting local cheese shops. What she found was people felt intimidated walking into a cheese shop not knowing what to order or how to pronounce the names of these artisan cheeses. There was an assumed prestige attached to these shops and Tina knew she needed to break this barrier. As she gathered research and started learning from the public, she and Alan began formulating the foundations of their business.

They recognized the need for a shop like theirs in midtown Fort Collins nestled between Sprouts and a Starbucks as convenience was key to their potential customer. Tina and Alan got the name, The Fox and The Crow, from one of Aesop’s fables. In this tale, the fox uses flattery to provoke the crow to drop her cheese into his mouth. Antiques decorate the shop mimicking this fable, and staff wear T-shirts that read, “Flattery will get you cheese.”

Their doors opened for business in November 2015. Tina and Alan were intentional in every aspect of the design and hiring of their business to create an inviting, warm, and kitchen-style ambiance for the everyday consumer. The growing number of staff– from 5 to 11 in under a year’s time– reflects the positive response of the public.

Through the steady flow of customers becoming regulars, Tina and Alan have been intentional to give back to the community they love and desire to serve. They partner with local cheese makers, along with local breweries, including Horse & Dragon, to support and celebrate the products made in town. The thank-you notes from several charities display the support they give to others. Perhaps most important and close to their hearts, is their blue cheese grater that is lit for Autism Awareness Month in April when 10% of their blue cheese sales are donated to Autism Speaks. Yet, their cheese grater stays lit year-round in honor of their third son who has autism.

As recent business owners, Tina and Alan identify their staff and regulars as their motivation. It doesn’t take long to feel welcomed by the staff once stepping inside. Each staff member takes their time with each customer, making sure they are still getting to know the likes and dislikes of their consumers. Valuing quality and presentation over profit, their cheese boards are designed to encourage experimentation as their cheeses are paired with local honey, fruits, meats, and sweets. The development of their menu came about through trial and error at home, which now includes specialty sandwiches, soups, quiches, and desserts.

Tina and Alan have sought to create a memorable experience for each customer whether visiting or returning to The Fox and The Crow. They encourage everyone to slow down and to enjoy the food they are served, to try new menu items and to savor the experiences that allow us to appreciate the simple things around us.

Written by Sarah Brase, Writing Specialist, Story On

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How Storm Men’s Shop is Providing Style with a Purpose

Whether tragedy, diagnosis, or others’ decisions have affected our lives or the ones we love, we all have the commonality of being knocked down and facing circumstances that are well out of our control. It is when these disasters strike that we are faced with a question, one that cannot be avoided. It is the question asking, How will I respond? A question that determines if the course of the future is fought for with anger and bitterness or with purpose and hope.

Twenty-seven years ago, Traci received news that her 14-month old son Tanner was given 10-12 years left to live. Tanner was diagnosed with cystinosis– a genetic metabolic disease that causes a slow deterioration of the organs. Only 500 children and young adults in the U.S. have cystinosis and approximately 2,000 worldwide. With limited research and no present cure, it was the beginning of a long road of treatments for Tanner, and the support and community for Traci seemed impossible to find.

At that time, Traci was a hair stylist running her own salon in Illinois. Tanner had extensive treatments all across the country, spending months in hospitals and two years on dialysis due to the disease attacking his kidneys. Both Traci and Tanner’s father donated a kidney to fight for his life and restore his health.

Storm Men's Shop

Not until Tanner was 24 did they find the Cystinosis Research Foundation, a community of people dedicated to research fundraising. Her husband encouraged her to attend the CRF conferences and engage with this community who shared similar stories. Traci had initiated some small fundraising on her own. She started a Facebook page called, Clothes for a Cure for Cystinosis, and began selling her clothes to raise money for Tanner.

With many years of treatments and getting used to the new “normal,” Traci began to see a need for more than Tanner’s medical attention, she began to notice the emotional toll this was taking on her son. And as a mother determined to provide the best for her son, she knew Tanner needed purpose and hope in order to save his life.

After much thought, she settled on opening a men’s clothing shop– something Tanner had an interest in and Traci was passionate about running as well. In 2015, this dream became a reality when they opened Storm Men’s Shop in downtown Fort Collins. The name was prompted by Traci’s husband and quickly agreed upon when she thought of the nature of how life had been to this point. Storm Men’s Shop is a mid to upscale clothing shop with accessories and gifts for the young professional male.

Storm Men's Shop

Storm Men's Shop

What’s unique about Storm Men’s Shop is that profit is not the drive, but purpose is. Traci is committed to giving 100% profits to the Cystinosis Research Foundation to further research and awareness. Storm Men’s Shop is a business focused on the wellbeing and fight for others; a business that cares for their small staff– including Tanner who works full-time– and a business that supports the 2,500 young people around the world with cystinosis that are often forgotten or overlooked.

“You don’t have to be a doctor or be doing something that we all label as wonderful and good. You can find that in more of an artistic style.” Traci knows the value of working with and for a purpose and greater good. Propped on Traci’s desk reads a simple, framed statement: “Style with a Purpose.” This is the drive behind Storm Men’s Shop and the life she has dedicated to live with Tanner.

Although we cannot always choose our circumstances, we do have a choice in our response. We come to a crossroads of deciding how we will move forward and what we will fight with. Traci chooses to fight with a purpose, fighting to save her son, and fights with hope in finding a cure for cystinosis to save many more.

Written by Sarah Brase, Writing Specialist at Story On

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Creating Culture Starts with Asking Questions

Workplace Culture

Workplace culture develops in many different ways and unfortunately, once it is in place it can be incredibly difficult to change. I used to help manage a tire shop where employees were allowed to say whatever they wanted to each other as long as they were appropriate or away from customers. It started out with a lot of friendly banter and then eventually the conversations  evolved and became degrading. It was still all in good fun but employees took liberties that they would not have in most other work environments.

Complaints started coming in from customers saying the vulgar language was offensive and not suitable for children. The challenge for us as managers came when we realized that we had allowed the bad language and distasteful humor for so long, that changing it felt impossible.

We had daily meetings about it as an entire crew every morning before we opened, but it didn’t help. So we started targeting the problem as we noticed it, and throughout each day, we stopped it and encouraged better behavior when we could. Combating the issue when we recognized  it slowly helped make a shift.

If you do what is possible every day you will eventually find yourself doing the impossible.

Culture can simply happen or it can be cultivated and shaped.

If you leave a child out in the snow alone, they are guaranteed to find something to do. Maybe that will be a snowball fight with the neighbors, or maybe it will be building a snowman or a fort. The one thing we know is that a child is unlikely to sit in the snow alone and do nothing.

If we take a moment to encourage that child to build something specific, we can still allow them the freedom to do it in their own way, but we can have an impact on whether their creation is destructive or beautiful.

Most of the time, people of all ages will allow their ideas and ethics to be shaped by outside influences rather than by original thought.

Created culture will be a reflection of the leadership.

In a start-up, for example, the culture will be a reflection of the founder. The founder can choose to lay out ground rules that either allow or disallow employees to take part in certain activities. One can choose to allow employees to gossip about each other which will create a backstabbing culture where employees compete to elevate themselves, or you can have a zero-tolerance gossip policy which helps encourage camaraderie and peer support for the dream and vision of the company.

Culture is also created by observation.

This is by far the craftiest way culture can happen. Humans often learn the fastest through unconscious learning. When we are babies we listen to our parents and hear the words they say on a regular basis. Our first words are often the words we heard the most.

We learn and adapt culture in much the same way. Even if our company clearly outlines consequences for being tardy, if our manager, employer, or leader is often late to work, the rest of our team will inevitably follow suit.

If the CEO shows up in sweatpants, he will likely portray to his employees that he doesn’t take his work seriously. In turn, they will learn to be less serious as well. For some businesses, a CEO in sweatpants could be the best thing for productivity and morale. In others, a swift drop in productivity is likely.

Actions will always speak louder than words, and a negatively observed culture can unravel the  foundation for productive, life-giving culture.

In my opinion, the best way to create culture is to make it individual.

It is really important to know where you are going if you want to lead people. If your employees are going to buy into your culture and vision you should be able to answer the question, How are we going to change the world?

There is nothing more personal for a company to create than the meaning for one’s life and work.

Life and work, in that order.

Our American culture has to start looking at humans as humans; not cogs in a wheel. Our humanity is what makes us special. We should not live to work, we should be working to live. Businesses have the opportunity to shape that principle.

Our humanity is what makes our companies unique.

When employees know they are valued, their work ethic and productivity increases drastically. Don’t look for the next great perk, look for the best way to serve your employees.

The only way to really identify with the humanity of your company is to ask questions. Do yourself a favor and never make assumptions about your culture. Ask questions and create a culture of sharing and nurturing ideas. The most valuable thing you have in your company are your people.

I LOVE hearing success stories. If you have seen a culture shift in your company, tell me about it at ryan@storyon.co and on Twitter.

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3 Ways the New Facebook “Like” Button Changes the Way We Communicate

It’s official. After years of comments, complaints, and suggestions, Facebook has changed their “Like” button to now include specific emotional responses, including Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. I am extremely happy about the changes and impressed with how Facebook has rolled them out.

Many people will still be disappointed there is no “dislike” button, but I think what Facebook chose to include is wonderful. Over the next few weeks, and even years, we will see online communication change dramatically as a result of this small update from Facebook. It may seem minimal, but here are three ways Facebook’s new “Like” button will actually change our lives and the ways we interact online.

  1. More depth in a shallow environment

One of the most important elements of telling a story is not if, but how people respond. Giving the viewer  more options with how they interact gives publishers and individuals more information to be able to produce content people want to see.

As a content publisher myself, if I am writing a story about a natural disaster or tragedies in the world and am not generating a “Wow” or “Angry” response from my audience, my writing may be missing the mark. In the same way, if a politician is getting more “Angry” reactions to his posts than “Love” he knows his story and campaign is probably not connecting in the way it should.

Stories are beautiful, evoking emotion from the reader,  and humans receive information best in the form of narratives. The new options give us the ability to interact with online content with the emotions we are actually using when encountering stories in real life.

  1. Online Sales

Advertisers and brands can expect to see a ridiculous amount of data being tested over the next few months on what emotional responses on Facebook lead to the most sales. This will differentiate based on industry and products, but  the reactions that are generating the most conversions will play a huge factor in a brand’s online presence.

There is already an insane amount of data and research surrounding the connections between emotions and sales; the challenge will now be learning to apply that to a much more emotionally-responsive Facebook platform. This will have very good applications but we also can expect there to be manipulation and advertisers who simply generate sales content which  promotes the most purchase-connected responses.

  1. Responding to tragedies just got easier

For all of us who have struggled to “Like” a post from our friends who had a loved one pass away, and you have found yourself struggling to show your sympathy for the matter, the added options for response made our connections with tragedies much more personable.

I think this is the best new feature of the update because it gives us the ability to empathize in online communication. Empathy is one of the strongest human emotions and having the ability to come alongside someone who is surprised, sad, or angry in a deeper way is important.

When terrible things happen in the world, or personal tragedies, or even when you go on your honest and emotional rants, people now have the ability to show you how they truly feel about it.

What do you think? Was Facebook’s new decision a smart one? Like, Wow, Love it or not, this update will be a game-changer in online communication. Other platforms will adjust and respond in the next year and the way people and brands interact online will have much more depth.

Way to go Facebook.

P.S. Don’t forget to Like, Love, or Wow this post!

This article was written by our CEO, Seth Silvers. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @sethsilvers

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Want to Grow? Help Your Employees Reach Their Dreams.

Our team at Story On become ecstatic hearing about companies who are committed at their core to helping others, and doing that through quality work. We can’t help but love businesses that are motivated to make the world a better place.

The fast-paced story of It Works! is marked by a conviction to help people live healthy lives.

It Works! has continued to move up on the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Companies” list and is showing no sign of slowing down. Beyond the success of their products and their passion for generosity, It Works! is transforming people’s lives.

Amy Stumpf, a It Works! distributor in Northern Colorado, told us, “It Works! has changed my life in every way, shape, and form. I never had an exact picture of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to help people and speak into their lives. I always desired to make an impact. This company has given me the platform to pursue my dreams, create financial freedom, and share the love of Jesus to more people then I would have ever have come in contact with.”

I wish this story was heard more often. I wish the story of a company empowering their workers and their dreams was the norm in our culture. Unfortunately, it is too easy for businesses to be focused on the bottom line and the top executives rather than the employees showing up daily to work hard. From what we have seen, It Works! cares about making the dreams of their distributors a reality.

In 1995, Mark and Cindy Pentecost were struggling financially and felt the tension of living a life that wasn’t what they had dreamed of. They began committing a few hours a week towards building a side business to bring in an additional income. Soon, they were making more money from their side business than Mark’s job as a school teacher.

This season sparked a passion in Mark and Cindy to help others reach their dreams in the same way they had. Over the next few years, they kept their eyes open for products with the potential to build their inspirational business around.

In 2001, Mark met a doctor who seemed to have a product with the potential they were looking for. Immediately, the Pentecosts were drawn to Dr. Luis and his passion for research and development in the skin care, nutritional, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. Dr. Luis began learning natural remedies from his grandmother in Mexico at a young age and eventually became the CEO of a top pharmaceutical company. He had the track record they were looking for and the passion for authenticity to match their passion.

Dr. Luis introduced Mark and Cindy to what would turn into the Ultimate Body Wrap Applicator. The infamous “Crazy Wrap Thing” (just Google it) is a body wrap with a patented process to shrink fat cells. This product, along with their others, has helped thousands of people as they pursue healthy lifestyles.

Over the last 14 years, It Works! has been committed to finding natural remedies to fight the physical problems many people face. Amy shared with us that some of the main things holding people back from their dreams are financial and health problems. By working with It Works, Amy (also a Certified Health Coach) has been able to help people earn more money each month as they help others live healthy, natural lives.

It Works! is not simply trying to find products to make money from, but they find products that will combat the major pain points they have dealt with. They struggled to see physical results when working hard to get fit, then they created the Ultimate Body Wrap Applicator to help supplement results. They were confused and overwhelmed as they tried to pick the right vitamins in a vitamin store, so they created the Greens to be a full supplement for healthy living. They were frustrated with how often people dealt with simple things such as sickness, fatigue, and lack of focus, so they created their essential oils package.

At the end of the day, It Works! is a company committed to helping people, and helping people help others. The It Works! story is spreading quickly and the core values driving the company are completely focused around supporting people as they live the life they have always wanted.

Amy used to be working 50-60 hours a week, babysitting when she could, and she was frustrated. It was hard for Amy to be putting in so many hours at a desk, wondering if her dreams had been lost.

Now, Amy is making more than she ever has, working less, and getting to help people navigate their personal dreams and health goals each day. It Works! is not one of the fastest growing companies in America because of their products, but because of their values.

What are other companies you know of who are built around similar values?

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Professional Academic Services

Professional Academic Services

Task Company UK welcomes you to essentially the most committed personalized project, thesis, coursework and essay writing solution supplier. We have qualified instructional writers, who about your requirements have obtained extensive knowledge with time’s passage through. Continue reading “Professional Academic Services”

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If you want to change the world, you need to change your story.

Stories are the currency of conversation. Every day people move from interaction to interaction, room to room exchanging stories with one another. When gathering with family, attending team meetings, or looking online, people long for engaging stories.

Yet the most popular way for brands to communicate who they are still seems to be through small tidbits of information detached from a larger, cohesive story. It simply makes no sense. Our team at Story On is under the conviction that people are sick of being advertised to. We are foolish enough to believe stories are what people want and stories are what people need.

We believe the best brands tell the best stories.

The best stories follow the best brands.

We believe if you want to change the world, you need to change your story.

Story On was founded to help brands be the best storytellers in the world. Story On exists to help connect brands with people in transformational ways and to tell those stories of impact through a megaphone.

In a busy and crowded culture, it is vitally important for brands to not just do amazing and responsible work but to tell stories that stick out among the clutter. Brands don’t stand out by simply having good media, websites or products but by building their business, products and content around caring for people.

Our team at Story On can help you create, share and discover stories worth sharing. People are waiting for your stories.

If you are interested in working with Story On, email us at info@storyon.co and we will call you ASAP. We always talk for free.

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