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Archive for the ‘New Economy’ Category

By Amy Cortese, Locavesting

In nature, pollinators like bees take the pollen from one plant and spread them around to others, creating a fertile ecosystem for other plants and animals.  No higher authority cuts the bees a paycheck to pollinate—they do this naturally.  So a pollinator enterprise is, in my view, an economic development program that shares and spreads the best of what local businesses offer, creating a fertile entrepreneurial ecosystem.  And importantly, like bees, they do this naturally, as a self-finance business, without requiring subsidies from foundations or government agencies.

Read: Michael Shuman on Pollinators, Social Enterprise and Remaking Economic Development

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By Marjorie Kelly, Steve Dubb and Violeta Duncan, Democracy Collaborative

As cities wrestle with the growing challenge of wealth inequality, more and more leaders are looking to broad-based ownership models as tools to create jobs and build community wealth. These models are highly effective, with a positive impact for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. This report looks at six such models—ESOPs, Worker Cooperatives, CDFIs, Social Enterprises, Municipal Ownership, and Emerging Hybrids—with examples of best practices, and explores how these models can be used in community economic development.

Read: Broad-Based Ownership Models as Tools for Job Creation and Community Development

 

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Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

While Monadnock Buy Local loves to promote the benefits of purchasing from locally owned businesses, we think it’s equally important to encourage businesses to adopt practices that are environmentally and socially responsible. We recognize that a strong financial bottom line is critical. However, we feel that focusing on the bottom lines of people and place is just as crucial.

How can we encourage Monadnock Region businesses to adopt a triple bottom line approach to success? For inspiring answers to this question, I took a tour around the World Wide Web. Below is a quick summary of how other communities are encouraging their businesses to be more “local, green and fair.”

Based in Asheville, NC, Accelerating Appalachia connects organic food and farming, sustainable forestry and green building businesses with investors and mentors. Entrepreneurs receive coaching in all aspects of their business, and specifically around financing. The first 10 businesses that participated in this program created 35 jobs, put 106 more acres into farming and added 12 new farmers to the local food system. Participants include Appalachian Botanical Alliance (a cooperative of Appalachian grown herb farmers), Echoview Fiber Mill (a manufacturer of natural fibers) and Carolina Ground (which grows and mills organic wheat, rye and barley flours): http://www.acceleratingappalachia.org.

The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), made up of 850 business and commercial property owners in Vancouver, British Columbia, reduces waste and shares resources through a Green Zone Resource Park. An underused parking lot was transformed into an industrial composting facility, material exchange and recycling collection hub. It is also now home to urban garden plots: http://strathconabia.com.

Certifiably Green Denver helps businesses adopt more sustainable business practices in how they use energy, water, waste and transportation. The City and County of Denver offer low-interest loans to businesses to help them implement energy projects. Thanks to this program, over 600 businesses have implemented energy upgrades, resulting in a reduction of 21,100 tons of carbon emissions. The program also maintains a Certified Green Business Map, helping the general public identify “green” business or transportation options: http://www.denverenergy.org/business.

Switching the focus now from green practices to fair businesses practices, Inner City Advisors (ICA) based in Oakland, CA believes that “people with good jobs are the foundation of a thriving community.” By ICA’s definition, a good job pays above a living wage, offers full health and dental benefits and allows employees to move up within the company. ICA helps small businesses access capital, hire from the local community and retain local talent. One of ICA’s members, Revolution Foods, created and retained over 1,000 jobs while serving over one million freshly prepared meals every week to K-12 schools: http://www.innercityadvisors.org.

The Living Wage Western Mass Coalition believes a living wage is a human right — that employees should be paid a wage that allows them to afford decent housing, food, transportation, clothing, utilities and medical care. The coalition also certifies and promotes businesses that pay their workers a living wage: http://www.livingwagewesternmass.net. More locally, Healthy Monadnock 2020 recently started its own living wage work group. To get involved, contact Linda Rubin at lrubin@cheshire-med.com.

While Fair Trade items are made in far away places, buying them cultivates sustainable local economies throughout the world. Fair Trade certifications ensure that products were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that “improve lives and protect the environment.” Fair Trade Brattleboro and the Fair Trade Club at Keene State College encourage businesses in our region to offer Fair Trade products on their shelves and menus: http://fairtradecampaigns.org.

Do you know of other programs or projects that encourage businesses to be more “local, green and fair?” Please share them with us by emailing monadockbuylocal@gmail.com.

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City of Keene Mayor Kendall Lane will announce the winner of The Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 12:15 p.m. during the Monadnock Earth Day Festival.  This award recognizes one socially and environmentally responsible business in the Monadnock Region. The nominees for this year’s award are the Amazing Flower Farm, Clark-Mortenson Insurance, Dave’s Automotive Enterprises, Hillside Spring Farm, Monadnock Food Co-op and Monadnock Paper Mill.

Monadnock Buy Local is proud to partner with the Keene Cities for Climate Protection Committee, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Hannah Grimes Center and Monadnock Sustainability Network to award this honor to one for-profit business this year.

GBYA-2014-promo-2up“Holding events like this one are so important for engaging the public in community efforts to reward environmentally responsible businesses,” said Karen Purinton Keene City Planner.  “Not only do they provide media attention for employers that go above and beyond; these events further announce the community’s commitment to providing and consuming resources locally.”

This year’s Monadnock Earth Festival, sponsored by Antioch University New England, will take place next to the Monadnock Food Co-op at 34 Cypress Street in Keene, NH.  The theme, Healthy Community, Healthy Planet, will showcase local businesses, non-profits and individuals contributing to the health and wellness of the Monadnock community.

The Keene Cities for Climate Protection Committee was created to aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the viability of the community and to protect public health, safety and welfare.  Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month at 8am at the Keene Public Library.  For further information contact Karen Purinton, City Planner at 603-352-5474.

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Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News

And the winner of the 2014 Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award is … (drum roll, please). Darn it, we can’t announce the winner until the Monadnock Earth Day Festival on April 26, 2014, 12:15 p.m. at the Railroad Land next to the Monadnock Food Co-op.

While we’re waiting to announce this year’s winner — a business being recognized for its strong social and environmental practices — we want to gives kudos to the six businesses nominated for this year’s award. These businesses are all environmental and social responsibility leaders in their industry and in our region. Here’s just one highlight from each nominee’s application:

The Amazing Flower Farm in New Ipswich offers annuals, perennials and vegetable starts. Three years ago, they replaced their greenhouse oil and propane heaters with more sustainable wood pellet stoves. Their wood pellets are sourced only twelve miles away at New England Wood Pellet in Jaffrey.

Clark-Mortenson Insurance and Financial Services in Keene is one of the largest independently owned insurance agencies in New Hampshire. In 2009, their employees formed the Business Sustainability Committee (a.k.a. the Green Team) to identify and research environmentally friendly practices to recommend to their senior management. The team awards its own “Oscar” to the employee who suggests a good green initiative. The award winner receives a small Oscar the Grouch (from Sesame Street) “trophy,” proudly kept on the winner’s desk until it moves on to the next person.

Dave’s Automotive Enterprises in Marlborough is a family owned and operated Motor Vehicle Salvage Yard. They note in their application that up to 85% of an average car’s parts can be salvaged. Dave’s is a New Hampshire Green Yard Certified facility and they have developed their own monthly Green Yard and Water Runoff check sheet to help them make sure pollutants are safely contained and not leaking into the environment.

Hillside Springs Farm in Westmoreland is a biodynamic farm that uses plow horses instead of gas-powered tractors and other equipment to grow its vegetables. The farm also grows about 75% of their horses’ food and, in turn, the horses’ manure is added to the farm’s compost – recycling nutrients into the soil for the next harvest.

Monadnock Food Co-op a community-owned grocery store in downtown Keene. It works to keep its waste out of the landfill through a variety of methods such as collecting food scraps produced by its kitchen and produce departments for pick-up by local farmers to add to their own compost systems, saving waste from their Meat and Seafood Department for a meat rendering business that recycles the scraps into soaps and perfume and sharing their used cooking oil with another business that converts the waste into biodiesel.

Monadnock Paper Mills, Inc. in Bennington produces up to 50 percent of its own electricity with its on-site hydroelectric power system. They recently upgraded their system and expect an increase of 400,000 kilowatt hours of self-generated electricity annually – reducing their dependence on nonrenewable sources. Monadnock Paper Mills is an EPA 100% Green Power Leader and since 2009 they have reduced their electricity consumption by 7%.

This year’s winner will join past year’s Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award winners: W.S. Badger, Filtrine Manufacturing, The Works Bakery Café and the Inn at Valley Farms.  This award is a partnership with the Keene Cities for Climate Protection, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Hannah Grimes Center, Monadnock Buy Local and Monadnock Sustainability Network. Thank you to this year’s judges: John Kondos from the Monadnock Sustainability Project, Christine Hadlow from the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Rebeckah Bullock from Monadnock Buy Local, John Sturtz from the City of Keene Cities for Climate Protection Committee and Andrew Richardson from the Hannah Grimes Center.

Please join us on April 26th at 12:15pm when Mayor Kendall Lane announces this year’s Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award winner – and also plan to stay and enjoy a full day of fun at this year’s Monadnock Earth Day Festival. This year’s theme, Healthy Community, Healthy Planet, will showcase local businesses, non-profits and individuals contributing to the health and wellness of the Monadnock community. Save the date and stay tuned for details at https://www.facebook.com/MonadnockEarthDayFestival. We hope to see you there!

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It’s challenging to know how a business really does business: How do they treat their employees?  Do they try to reduce their impacts on the environment? Are they striving to contribute more to their community?  A certification process called B Corp makes answers to these questions more transparent. “[It’s] like the Fair Trade label but for a whole company, not just a bag of coffee,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, B Lab Co-Founder, the nonprofit that certifies B Corps businesses.

There are currently 990 Certified B Corps (the B is short for Benefit) from 24 countries — and we’re lucky to have one in our own neck of the woods: W.S. Badger Company, Inc. in Gilsum, a locally owned company that makes healing balms, lip balms, sunscreens and other personal care products.  Since 2011, Badger is “measuring what matters” as a Certified B Corp.  Sure, Badger is measuring profits — but to them, money is the fuel, not the end goal.

According to Rebecca Hamilton, Badger’s Director of Product Development, they had many motivations for pursuing B Corp certification.  Badger’s products are already certified organic and fair trade, but they wanted a more holistic way to measure how well they do business.  B Corp certification helps Badger benchmark their progress towards sustainability, showing them clear and real opportunities for positive growth and better ways to do business.

Another part of Badger’s motivation to become certified was to ensure the company continued to “do good” while experiencing growth — even if leadership suddenly changed.  “As a small company, we knew at our core what was right; but little structure was in place to document these as policies,” shares Rebecca.  “We wanted to build these practices into the DNA of the company.”

Mary Cabot, CEO of another B Corps, Dansko Footwear, sums it up nicely with this quote: “Just like you want your child to grow up healthy and outlive you as a parent, we want our company to as well. B Corps help us have faith that this can happen.”

View how Badger ranks as a B Corp at www.bcorporation.net/badger.

So, what about you?  Let’s say you’re not a business owner – how can you support B Corps and encourage others to explore this different way of doing business?  Tell your boss about B Corp Certification.  Any business can fill out the B Impact Assessment online for free and see how they rank. More than 15,000 businesses use the B Impact Assessment to benchmark their performance and help them set goals for continuous improvement.

To become a Certified B Corp a business must earn at least 80 out of 200 points in the B Impact Assessment and pay a certification fee.  It took Badger about one hour to fill out the assessment and then the fact checking process took a couple of days.  The certified company receives a full report with recommendations from B Lab.  Certification must be renewed annually, and standards are stringent and continually revised to make sure companies are really “doing good.”

Another way to support B Corps is to ask your favorite locally owned businesses to carry B Corps Certified products.  Browse companies on the B Corp website (www.bcorporation.net) and share your favorites – perhaps King Arthur Flour or Seventh Generation?  You can also help by taking a look at what office products your workplace uses and encouraging your company to switch to products from Certified B Corps.

And finally, one of the ultimate ways to help is to advocate for the state of New Hampshire to recognize a new type of business – the Benefit Corporation.  While B Corps is a certification offered by the nonprofit B Lab, a Benefit Corporation is a legal status run by the state.  Benefit corporation laws are already enacted in 15 states, while others are pursuing legislation. Badger is working with Senator Molly Kelly on NH Legislation, Senate Bill 215.  The bill passed in the Senate and was referred to the House.  We will keep you posted on their progress and how you can support this bill.

king arthurYour support of Certified B Corps and B Corporation legislation helps companies grow and become more successful by doing good, encouraging other companies to follow their lead.

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Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News (MBL Media Sponsor)

We often write about how locally-owned businesses support community, but in this month’s article we’re focusing on how community supports businesses — in the form of Community Supported Enterprises (CSE).  You may be familiar with one type of CSE, Community Supported Agriculture, but there are also CSFs, CSRs and more — a whole alphabet soup of community support.

Community Supported Agriculture, better known as a CSA, works like this: an individual or family purchases a share from a farmer — before the growing season begins — in exchange for a portion of the harvest.  This model provides farmers with cash up front to help pay for seeds, compost and other needed supplies for the coming growing season. As a CSA member, individuals cultivate a closer connection to a farmer and experience some of the realities of farming — how weather, disease and other variables affect crop quantities and quality, and how much work goes into bringing food from the farm to the plate.  Members also broaden their palette for local food, trying different types of produce in new ways thanks to recipe suggestions from the farmer and fellow CSA members.

tracie FarmIn our region, there are over 20 CSA farms supported by more than 1,600 families.  I’m lucky enough to be a member of Tracie’s Community Farm in Fitzwilliam, a 14 year-old CSA that provides weekly summer shares to 350 members.  “Community Supported Agriculture brings together farms and members of the community to share in a mutually beneficial relationship,” said CSA Farmer Tracie Smith. “Members purchasing a share up-front also gives us a sense of security, knowing all the hard work we’re planning for and doing isn’t going to be wasted.  They feel connected to their food and appreciate it more knowing who and what has gone into getting it to them.”  Learn more about Tracie’s Community Farm at www.traciesfarm.com. Fall farm shares are available starting in August!

As a side note, one of Monadnock Buy Local’s fans asked us how many CSA farms and members there are in our region.  We couldn’t find the answer, so we’re working to compile this information.  If you’re a CSA farmer (and haven’t contacted us already), please email us your farm name and your current number of CSA members at monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com.  We plan to share what we’ve gleaned with local food system groups like Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition and New Hampshire Farms Network.

NHCommSeafoodMoving now from land to water, we find a different CSE model: Community Supported Fisheries.  Instead of a share of produce, CSF members receive – you guessed it – fish! (And other seafood too.)  In New Hampshire, 98% of fish caught along our 13 miles of seacoast leaves the state, while 80 – 90% of the fish we consume is imported from other countries. A CSF in Portsmouth, called New Hampshire Community Seafood, is working to change these statistics by linking fishermen directly to consumers. In addition to making these connections, NH Community Seafood is working to drive consumer demand towards more sustainable types of fish.  It is encouraging its 275 members to try dogfish — a fish popular in Britain as “Fish and Chips” — by adding it to members’ weekly share along with information and recipes about this fish species.

CSF members buy a $200 share for two pounds of fish filets delivered once a week for eight weeks. Learn more at www.nhcommunityseafood.com.  Interested in joining? One CSA member at Tracie’s Community Farm is trying to pool enough people to start a CSF share drop-off location near Keene. Contact Erin Moore at moorehappy(at)gmail.com to learn more.

the-gleanery-solid-23It sure is hard to steer away from food when talking about Community Supported Enterprises! Next up is Community Supported Restaurants and The Gleanery in Putney, VT is one nearby example.  Before opening, The Gleanery asked individuals to purchase CSR shares to provide start-up capital for this business.  Members, in turn, received monthly food credits.  What makes The Gleanery even more unique is that it takes seconds (bruised and imperfect fruits and vegetables) along with any excess produce from local farms and builds a menu around these local ingredients. They also work to preserve the harvest, canning what can’t be served immediately for use in future meals.  Learn more at www.thegleanery.com.

SAC-CSAPostCard_201210142-copy-1024x662A CSE model that feeds us in a different way is Community Supported Art.  The Sharon Art Center in Peterborough offered 50 CSArt shares last year, including limited edition pieces of art from nine local artists. Artists were encouraged to incorporate the themes of sustainability, farms or food into their work.  CSArt members receive three “farm boxes” during the summer months.  Learn more at www.sharonarts.org/csart-2012-holiday-season.html.

Finally, we turn to Community Supported Retail.  In the Adirondacks of New York State there’s a department store called the Community Store of Saranac Lake supported by 700+ members.  When the Ames Store in their town closed, community members came together to fill a void (the nearest department store was 50 miles away).  “[We wanted to] take control of our future and help our community,” said Melinda Little, Board Member of the Community Store. “The idea was, this is an investment in the community as well as the store.”  The community opened its 4,000 square foot store in 2011.  Learn more at www.community-store.org.

Now we ask you: What needs could a Community Supported Enterprises meet in your community?  Which existing CSEs could you support more? CSEs are really about community supporting community — and in the words of Wendell Berry, “A good community insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help. A good community, in other words, is a good local economy”.  Let’s build that good local economy together.

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