By Eugenia Nicole Macias and Briana Erhard
If you’re a weekly regular at Smorgasburg on Sunday’s, you may have recognized Bri Erhard’s captivating smile! With a bachelor’s degree in social welfare and justice, Bri hopes to work towards a fulfilling career that serves a greater purpose for society. From working at a local non-profit after school program, to working with TV, what better way than to start by spreading the love and education of Todo Verde’s mission, one small step at a time!
You studied social welfare and justice in Milwaukee and then moved to Ecuador for post-grad volunteer work, what was that like?
It was rough! But also amazing. And really heart-breaking. I got sick a lot because of our limited access to clean water. I volunteered at a holistic grassroots organization in a small community in Duran. The placement I chose to work at was the only resource center in that community and it was run by a nun who really was a social worker, a teacher, a therapist, and bruja. In the mornings, I would help prep medicines and oils with her derived from natural plants. I learned how to make different tinctures and learned about the benefits of different plant-based oils. In the afternoons, I worked at an after school program that had about 35 kids, ages 4-7. I loved working with the kids! Although it was a very eye opening experience it’s something I continue to feel very challenged by.
There are many different types of labels that people use to identify themselves with, for example being labeled vegan. Even though TV is a vegan catering company, we don’t like to constantly throw that out at people, we consider ourselves a healthy alternative. You also shed some light on the limits of labels.
I was adopted when I was 4 years old, and while I don’t have a ton of memories of being in the system, I used to struggle a lot with “what label best fits me.” My biological family is Honduran, Irish and Mexican, but it took me a long time to realize that I don’t fit in just one category. I struggled with self-identity, like a lot of people, but I’m learning not to care much for labels.
You’re passionate about social justice and working for our community, how does working at Todo Verde fit into your long-term goals?
I’ve always had so many interests, it’s hard to have one goal, but whatever I end up doing in the long run, I want it to have a greater purpose to bring healing resources to our communities, and working with Todo Verde is a step in the right direction!
I first started working just once a week, Sundays at Smorgasburg, so I didn’t see the whole picture of the company. Now, I work behind the scenes, managing a lot of our administration work. Working once a week with TV was a fun Sunday thing I would do, and now it involves a lot of learning new things, like how a business is run from such a small scale level. I really get to see what’s going on, why it all got started and everything that Jocelyn does every day to keep the business going. Ultimately, it’s business with a revolutionary mission that I fully support and I can’t wait to see where else we go!
What is your favorite thing about working con TV?
Learning how to be a go-getter like Jocelyn! She has a to do list for everything, if she doesn’t know how to do something, she knows how to problem solve to get what she needs done. I think it is very radical what Jocelyn is doing, our whole mission of TV is very socially conscious, we serve a much greater purpose other than just making food, we’re creating consciousness and awareness of the injustices and lack of choices that exist in our communities that otherwise wouldn’t be spoken of. She’s found a way to tap into something that’s comfortable enough for people to try, which is an important first step. People don’t change because they’re scared or don’t want to try something new and a lot of people are willing to try and most people end up loving it, I think because of her food presentation and the fact that she doesn’t just label it vegan but just a healthier version of what we already know.
When you’re not helping with admin work and filling in for catering gigs, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love yoga, running, hiking and anything outdoors! Self-care practices are sustaining and life-giving for me. I also love being with kids, reading, writing and listening to music. I’m currently reading A Woman Who Glows in the Dark by Elena Avila.
If you had to choose one TV recipe to have for the rest of your life, which would it be?
That’s so hard! I love anything with JackFruit and Avocado Salsa!