Our Voice nonprofit to Waking Life owners: We won’t accept your money

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Protesters outside Waking Life Coffee shop Monday morning. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Saylor.

Protesters outside Waking Life Coffee shop Monday morning. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Saylor.

The Asheville nonprofit Our Voice today issued a statement that it would not accept any donations from the owners of Waking Life coffee shop in West Asheville.

Owners Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens had announced in their own statement that they would donate proceeds of their business to Our Voice, a nonprofit devoted to helping victims of rape and domestic abuse. That move followed revelations that the two were using a Twitter account, blog posts and a podcast to detail their sexual conquests and misogynistic behavior.

Here’s the Our Voice statement:

We were disturbed and outraged by what was posted by Jared and Jacob regarding women. We will not be taking their money because it is not our place to forgive. Our VOICE is not in a position of absolving them for their misogyny as it perpetuates a culture of danger to all women and girls. Jared’s and Jacob’s actions not only objectified women but also perpetuated rape culture and violence against women.

While Jared and Jacob apologized, Jared’s apology infers that he believes his inability to date well contributed to his actions. How damaged must our society be that he can reason in this manner and it be thought as an apology. It is disturbing to think he can rationalize violence against all women because he struggled with insecurities around dating.

On a positive note, while Jared and Jacob’s actions were deplorable, they inadvertently created an opportunity for our community to come together and dialogue about rape culture. We look forward to Our VOICE being a part of that conversation.

While we will not be accepting Waking Life’s contribution, we will gladly accept support from concerned individuals and businesses to support Our VOICE’s sexual assault and prevention programs. They can donate online at ourvoicenc.org or contribute by mail at 44 Merrimon Avenue, Ste 1, Asheville, NC 28801.

Here’s the Waking Life statement:

To Our Asheville Community:

We know many of you are very angry right now. That anger is justified. There is nothing to balm the wound for now, and we recognize that. We validate and affirm your frustration and disappointment. We’ve issued separate individual apologies, and those stand more than ever.

We’ve said terrible and demeaning things – things that belie unhealthy thought patterns that do not contribute to a stable and equal society. Things our mothers and sisters had to hear. We cannot and will not excuse these things. We grieve for the systematic and ongoing actions we’ve taken. We apologize to the women in our lives and the greater community for the harm we’ve caused, and the potential danger we’ve put them in with our attitudes and beliefs.

We opened Sunday in order to have conversations with some of our regular customers, and to give an opportunity for folks to chat if they wished. A few did just that, and we’re grateful for your thoughts and feelings. We’re humbled by and undeserving of the grace displayed by so many in the face of our actions.

We’re going to close for the next couple days so we can have some room for introspection. We want to allow ourselves to be accountable to our friends, family, employees, clergy, and counselors for our actions, and give ourselves room to be silent and reflect. These attitudes were not grown in a day, and they will not be destroyed in a day. We want to humbly commit to that process. We’re not good people, but we want to be.

We’re going to donate all our business profits through the end of the year to Our Voice. Many of you in the community have great regard for this organization, and their work is of immense importance. We know this is but a step, but it’s something to which we can commit. Our employees who have lost their jobs due to our behavior will be given severance to help as they transition.

With deep regret,

Jared & Jacob

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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  1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

    Uh-oh. “Holistic Game” supporters and Ayn Rand fans are pissed.

    Just saw how the HolisticGame thing went viral. F*** this gay earth. I might just start punching feminists and manginas, without preamble.

    7:19 PM – 23 Sep 2015 (my censoring)

    bit.ly/1OSSwJk (tweet – drag & drop)

  2. Tim Peck September 23, 2015

    Mike Cronin

    #Asheville cafe #WakingLife owners now not opening 2nd location, @MaryCaitlinByrd: avlne.ws/1OSGpvO @asheville #avlnews

    1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

      Well, now they’ll have more time to pursue their various hobbies: pick-up-artistry and (whaaaaaaa?) talking about their favorite Ayn Rand novels!

      bit.ly/1Qz1RnQ (tweet that they didn’t manage to delete – drag & drop)

      Yes, Mr. Peck. They certainly do seem “progressive” as all get-out.

  3. Tim Peck September 23, 2015

    “donate proceeds of their business”

    No. They did not say “proceeds.” Proceeds usually means revenues, income or earnings.

    In their facile public statement, the progressive duo said, “We’re going to donate all our business PROFITS through the end of the year to Our Voice.”

    The coffee selling business is a for-profit enterprise and the local entrepreneurs are suffering the consequences of operating under the market law of profit/loss — the mechanism by which markets are self-regulating.

    Profit is what makes any business enterprise worthwhile. It appears that this one is no longer.

    1. Barry Summers September 23, 2015

      the progressive duo

      And predictably, our old buddy tries to make political hay out of something ugly, and only winds up tripping over his own peck again.

      “Two cleanshaven liberal beta herbs making fun of Dubya over green tea. This generation needs real American men more than ever.” @HolisticGame

      bit.ly/1KzXWT4 (screenshot – drag & drop)

      These guys sound like hardcore Ayn Rand fans to me. Didn’t you run into them at any of the Objectivist meet & greets?

      1. Tim Peck September 24, 2015


        1. Barry Summers September 24, 2015

          What’s lame is calling these guys “progressives”, in a cynical attempt to smear others. Here’s who they really are, conversing with their fellow ‘PUAs’ (pick-up artists) on the relative merits of Ayn Rand novels. You know her, right? Your hero? You share that with these misogynists from both sides of the pond:


          1. Peter Robbins September 25, 2015

            Maybe he means “progressive” compared to himself.

  4. Bill September 22, 2015

    Not that I care or am buying their “apology”, but I wonder if they hired a professional image consultant/fixer to help them write this statement.

    It just sounds like so much b.s. to me.

    They need time to reflect and chat with their “clergy”.


    1. Barry Summers September 22, 2015

      Yeah, I suspect that one of them calling Jesus a “zombie” on Easter is gonna come up.

  5. Steve September 21, 2015

    Kudos to Our Voice for not accepting their money, thinking that will make this blow over and everything will be fine. However, I’m not exactly seeing that this is “perpetuating rape culture.” I have seen just a couple of the posts, and have no intention to read the rest, but until I hear otherwise my understanding is these women were willing participants in these situations. All the owners did was brag about it in an immature and vile way. I’ll never patronize their business, it’s fine with me if they go out of business, but I’m not sure sleeping around and consensual sex is really perpetuating rape culture.

  6. Pablo September 21, 2015

    I don’t know quite what to think about the three different statements of apology coming from the owners of the coffee house. Something from literature about being hoist on one’s own petard comes to mind. I do think the outrage, protests and boycott coming from community activists exceed the degree of the “crime” committed. It’s a classic over-reaction and typical of the times we live in. I pray I never do something that places me in the position in which these two young men now find themselves embroiled. They very well may choose to close their business and move away from Asheville.


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