August 18, 2017
Janet Ridsdale and Michele Gibson are business partners and mothers of children with autism.
It’s what brought them together before starting their own event company, Human Touch Events, and like many parents in the special needs community, it has shaped their lives both personally and professionally.
Janet’s son Derek, 19, is a passionate advocate for his autistic community. “Autistic people don’t need to be ‘cured,’” he says. “We need understanding, inclusion, tolerance, acceptance, and accommodations.”
As Derek explains, the “functioning labels” that are given to people with autism are not terribly accurate. “I used to be classed as ‘low-functioning,’ but now I’m a ‘high-functioning’ autistic.”
“It shows you just how arbitrary those labels are if someone can outgrow one. Functionality fluctuates.”
Over the past 19 years, Derek has used his experience to help his mom understand the worldview of a person with autism. “I used to think I knew how people with special needs view the world,” she says. “But it’s made me think twice.”
Janet says motherhood has reinforced her company’s philosophy of working for the greater good.
“It’s also made me slow down,” she says. “I used to be running full-tilt all the time, but when you have a child with unexpected medical issues and autism, you can’t rush anything. He really helped me build my patience.”
“Every little minute thing makes a difference.”
Derek is an avid environmentalist, having always found peace in nature. “Earth is the only planet we have,” he says. “We need to take care of it.” He’s influenced his family to think green, and as a result, Human Touch Events has become greener as well.
In his free time, Derek enjoys volunteering with the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society, an organization that brings together young people with Autism for group activities among their peers.
“He’s straight-up fabulous,” Janet says.
Click here to meet Janet and Michele.
View Human Touch Events’ services.
Learn more about the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society.
Connect with Human Touch Events on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Vote for Human Touch Events as your favourite local business in REAP’s 2017 Be Local Awards.
August 18, 2017
Eau Claire Distillery is showcasing Alberta ingredients with its rotating lineup of cocktails.
“David Farran started Eau Claire to support Alberta’s award-winning grain, and it only made sense to me to continue that support in the tasting room – especially in the economic downturn,” says Chelsey Coulson, Tasting Room Manager at Eau Claire Distillery.
“There’s no sense in ordering ingredients from across the border that I can get here, and support other small businesses in the process.” Some of Chelsey’s favourite local cocktail ingredients are Porter’s Tonic syrup, and Wild Sparkling Tea and True Buch kombuchas.
Having worked with alcohol since she was 18, Chelsey has attuned her signature cocktail style to bring out the “original flavour” of the spirit while including interesting and refreshing ingredients that are easy to drink.
Some popular past concoctions were a Saskatoon gin sour made with berries from the Saskatoon Farm, egg whites, gin, and lemon juice, and the Rabbit Rummy made with carrots, anise, cinnamon, and almond syrup.
“It’s not your usual suspects,” she says. Chelsey is also working on expanding the non-alcoholic side of the menu, to give non-drinkers something tastier than water to sip on.
Eau Claire Distillery has always touted the “farm to glass” movement, and is now also going “farm to table” by introducing a full-service food menu to its tasting room. “Our menu will focus on local suppliers wherever possible – Seven K Ranch, Spragg’s Meat Shop, we want to support Alberta as much as possible,” says Chelsey.
“Seeing David’s passion makes me want to ensure it’s being followed through in all aspects of the business, not just the spirits.”
Learn how to make Chelsey’s cocktails with Eau Claire Distillery’s vodka, gin, Equinox, or gin rummy.
Want Chelsey and Eau Claire Distillery at the bar for your event? Send her an email.
Visit the tasting room in Turner Valley.
Connect with Eau Claire Distillery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Vote for Eau Claire Distillery as your favourite local business in REAP’s 2017 Be Local Awards!