We at In Travel Group feel very lucky to have spoken with Terri Waller recently, a truly inspiring woman who is full of wisdom and sage advice. Terri is the founder of Sev-Gen, a social enterprise that goes above and beyond just getting people into work in its Deadly Espresso cafe.
“We do a lot of things,” says Terri.
“On the surface, we run a café that provides work experience and work opportunities for vulnerable people, for people who haven’t been able to find work in mainstream opportunities. The business’s mission is to create great coffee for a great cause – so we can continue to provide opportunities for people in a business environment.”
Terri explains that sometimes it’s just about finding a good fit for people who are just on the edges of mainstream society.
“Often, they’re very talented and creative, or they have different views, but just as valuable in community. And it’s not so much the jobs and careers we’re focused on, but more honouring that true creative self and going back to thinking about vocational aspirations and thinking about your goal in life and in society, not necessarily just job positions. Of course, a job is important, but even more important is to develop yourself so you find something that helps you understand what your purpose is, and then let your life unfold from there. We place so much importance on having a job, yet we sacrifice so much with this thinking. What about getting a job in a different way and with a different mindset?”
Sev-Gen is an organisation with a dual mission: to honour the full creative self, then to celebrate, validate and reinvigorate Indigenous ways of being.
“We do lots of activities to do with both of those things,” says Terri.
“We have our ears to the ground to see what’s needed and to see how we can respond in a creative way that’s not being done out there already. Because there’s a lot of approaches out there and there’s no need to duplicate those. Because we make our own money to do our work, we may as well save it up for things that are a little bit different. We’re looking to be a first response to some of those more critical or creative needs.”
The name Sev-Gen is a conglomeration of two words: Seven Generations. Terri tells us it’s based on the sustainability and ecological wisdom that what you do today, effects seven generations into the future.
“We’re just trying to remind everybody to have a good think about what they’re doing because they impact on things,” she says.
At In Travel Group, we aspire to providing employment opportunities in the travel industry for Indigenous people and we love Terri’s philosophy on how to best go about this.
“I hope I can create something that helps to cultivate the right conditions for people,” she says.
“And because society doesn’t always support people in this way, I hope to hold that space and create those conditions for people and shortcut a whole lot of pain.”
Terri’s advice for others is very simple yet powerful. She says to be bold, be brave and to believe.
“Celebrate the individual within a social context for the benefit of the collective,” says Terri.
“That’s my bit of advice.”
Thanks for the words of wisdom.
The In Travel Group Team.