The Business Matters Blog

Beyond Profits

January 30th, 2013 | post a comment

This week on Business Matters, we talk about what it means for businesses to go beyond profits.  What can happen when businesses decide to give back to the community?  What benefits do companies perceive may arise from philanthropic work?   How can “doing good” affect employee retention rates?  In what ways do philanthropies themselves benefit from corporate involvement?  What are the preferred ways for companies to be involved in community organizations?

We discover some surprising statistics about the amount of money, investment in volunteerism, and the number of corporations involved in giving back to their communities, and the reasons “giving back” is important to business.  We hear the interesting story of a philanthropic project offered by Hewlett Packard to economically depressed areas, noting the many benefits and some pitfalls of this corporate-community collaborative project.  Then we discuss the benefits to communities and businesses when corporations offer support to local not-for-profit organizations, including employee retention,  community resiliency, and long-term interactions with consumers.  We also hear suggestions for business leaders who are interested in offering such support.

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Guests

Margaret Coady

Margaret CoadyMargaret Coady is Director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.  Since joining the organization in early 2005, Margaret’s close work with member companies, oversight of the Committee’s proprietary Corporate Giving Standard online benchmarking system, and her authorship of four editions of the annual “Giving in Numbers” report have established her as a leading authority on emerging trends in the field of corporate giving.  She lectures for national and international audiences and has appeared on television and radio programs including BBC World Report, CNBC Morning Call, and CNBC Street Signs.  To learn more about Margaret, visit the CECP website.

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David Fetterman, Ph.D.

David FettermanDavid M. Fetterman is President and CEO of Fetterman & Associates, an international evaluation consulting firm. He is Professor of Education at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and the Director of the Arkansas Evaluation Center. Over 25 years of service, he held positions in Stanford University’s administration, School of Education, and School of Medicine. He is the author of many books, including Empowerment Evaluation Principles in PracticeEthnography: Step by Step, 3rd Edition, and most recently, Empowerment Evaluation in the Digital Villages: Hewlett Packard’s $15 Million Race Towards Social Justice.

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Nancy Wackstein

Nancy Wackstein 2Nancy Wackstein has been Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses of New York (UNH) since 2002.  UNH is the federation of the City’s 38 settlement houses and community centers.   Prior to her UNH appointment, she was the Executive Director of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a settlement house on Manhattan’s East Side, for eleven years.

Ms. Wackstein served as Director of the Mayor’s Office on Homelessness and SRO Housing from 1990-1991 under Mayor David N. Dinkins.  She was Senior Policy Advisor for Human Services in Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins’ Office from 1986-1989, where she was also Staff Director for the Task Force on Housing for Homeless Families.

Ms. Wackstein currently serves on the Board of Directors of several non-profit organizations, including the United Way of New York City and is Immediate Past Board Chair of the Human Services Council of New York.  Ms. Wackstein was appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to the New York City Youth Board, the Citywide Coordinating Committee to End Chronic Homelessness, the New York City Commission for Economic Opportunity, and the NYC Commission on LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth.

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An Early Wake-Up Call

January 9th, 2013 | 3 comments

This week on Business Matters, we get a wake-up call about what business and social trends really portend.  It’s a different world, and no matter how much we want to be blind to what’s happening, knowledge offers the power of preparation.  Where are the primary trends shifting?  How can you align yourself and your business with the trends, so that you and your community can find success and stability in this time?

First, we hear about the effects of centralization and discuss suggestions for both broad policy changes and wise alterations of behavior for businesses and individuals.  Our economy is in a “slow burn.”  People are terrified because of a lack of transparency, privacy has declined extraordinarily, and everything is politicized.  The pie has shrunk and the world is dangerous, and people are feeling it, despite their desire for things to be going well.  As a result, the role of investment has changed.  There is opportunity in decentralization, but it takes local organization and forethought, as well as discernment, to implement it.  What are the most prudent choices for each of us in the year ahead?  Who can we trust?

Next, we take a look at the United States in comparison to Russia, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  While many predicted complete failure in the beginning, Russia’s solid social services protected the people’s basic needs during the rough transition.  The country is now progressing on every level, embracing change as necessary to progress.  The United States, on the other hand, appears to be attached to the idea of maintaining the status quo.  Entrenched interests are fighting tooth and claw to maintain their positions in American society, and the political system is supporting their tenacity.  There is an appearance of political will for obust social services, but crises reveal its thin veneer.  There has been a great deal of disinvestment in the country in general; the economic sector having been hollowed out and class divides increasingly sharply.  This situation could become startlingly life-changing for many Americans in a short amount of time.  Awareness is a crucial first step.  How are we aiding and abetting a future we do not intend?

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Guests

Catherine Austin Fitts

fittsCatherine Austin Fitts’ understanding of the global financial system and the inner workings of the Wall Street-Washington axis is unparalleled. As the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner, Catherine was one of the first to warn of an approaching housing bubble. Her prediction that a ‘strong dollar policy’ would ultimately lead to a weakened federal credit is currently being proven correct. Catherine is the founder and managing member of Solari Investment Advisory Services, LLC.; and President of Solari, Inc. an online media company focused on ethical investment. Earlier in her career, she was a Managing Director and member of the board of Wall Street investment banking firm Dillon Read & Co. Inc. (She writes about her experience there in Dillon Read and the Aristocracy of Stock Profits.)

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Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry OrlovEmigrating from the Soviet Union at 12, Dmitry Orlov became an eye witness to the collapse of the Soviet Union. These lessons have informed his observations and writing about the collapse of the U.S economy and our preparedness to handle the fallout.In 2005, Dmitry wrote Closing the Collapse Gap, about how Russia was much better prepared for the collapse after the fall of communism that America is after the fall of consumerism.  He has also written other articles on culture change include The New Age of Sail , The Despotism of the ImageThat Bastion of American Socialism and Thriving in an Age of Collapse.

Orlov’s book Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects has received numerous awards including the 2009 independentPublisher Silver Medal. Visit Dmitry Orlov at his website.

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What’s Ahead in 2013?

January 1st, 2013 | post a comment

We welcome in the new year by asking three experts about the biggest ideas for 2013.

First, we examine the cultural zeitgeist, discovering the hottest new job title, learning how social media is further changing the business world, examining popular entertainment and what the themes reflect about our society, and accepting, finally, the integration of digital technology into all sectors of society.

Next, we turn to the economy and hear the good news that, for the upcoming year at least, we are escaping the grip of the financial crisis.  We learn what we need to do to take advantage of this upturn to prepare for what may be an uncertain future.

Our last segment focuses on the biggest change to health care in over 50 years: the implementation of Affordable Care Act, or “Omamacare.”  Though the ACA was passed in 2010, it is only this year moving into full implementation, and we are going to see the effects of this change.  We learn the details of the developing state- and federally-run “shopping exchanges” of health insurance plans for those who do not have  access to health insurance.  We speculate about the effects of these exchanges and the consequences for businesses, Medicaid, and individuals.

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Guests

Brad Grossman

Brad Grossman

Brad Grossman is a creative and cultural advisor, producer and entrepreneur. His bi-coastal Grossman& Partners is a “think-tank/ do-tank” for progressive-minded individuals and organizations from a wide swath of fields—media/entertainment, science/ technology, finance, policy, fashion/art/design, and lifestyle. Clients include C-Suite executives, entrepreneurs and heads of non- profits, as well as creative and thought leaders.  His current work evolved out of the four years he spent as a full- time cultural attaché for Brian Grazer.  Brad’s experience in the field includes 15 years in independent and studio film production at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Universal Pictures. He co-founded Out in Television & Film, a networking and educational organization for LGBT filmmakers and executives, and Insta-Tutor, an academic coaching company for high-school students. To find out more about Brad, click here.  To read 2013 Zeitguide, click here (free until January 14th!).

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Michael Mandel

michael-mandel_web

Michael is a regular with us on Business Matters and always brings a clear and discerning eye to what’s going on in the economy. For many years, Michael was a economics writer and then chief economist at Business Week. Today, he is the chief economics strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute, CEO of Visible Economy and a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation.

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Trudy Lieberman

trudy-lieberman.jpg

Trudy Lieberman, a journalist for 40 years, is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health. She was recently director of the health and medical reporting program at the Graduate School of Journalism, City University of New York and had a long career at Consumer Reports specializing in insurance, health care and health care financing. She was also the director of the Center for Consumer Health Choices at Consumers Union.

She is a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review, a contributor toThe Nation, and has written a column about health and the marketplace for theLos Angeles Times. She blogs on health care and income security issues at cjr.org for the Columbia Journalism Review. She began her career as a consumer writer for the Detroit Free Press where her reporting became a model for consumer writers across the country.
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Encore Presentation: Government, Society, and Business

December 26th, 2012 | post a comment

As we take a break for the holidays, we wanted to share with you inspiring words of wisdom from two of our favorite guests.  Happy holidays, and happy listening.

This week’s program explores the relationship between business and democracy with two people who have written extensively about what it means to be a leader and a citizen.  Parker Palmer encourages us to “address the better angels of our nature” through deep listening to those who are different from us, by contributing our own small piece of the solution, and by recognizing the variety of ways we are interconnected, offering us reasons for hope in the midst of heartbreak.  Jacob Needleman explains the different purposes of government and society, suggesting that our responsibility as citizens is the search for conscience and higher meaning.  If we lose this capacity, our society may not survive.  But the ideals of goodness and truth are not dead, and it is through freedom of the mind that we will envision, together, a positive future.   A question to start with: “What is freedom for?”

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Guests

Parker Palmer, Ph.D.

Parker is a writer, teacher and activist whose work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life. He is founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His books include A Hidden Wholeness, The Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak,  and the book featured on our show today, Healing the Heart of Democracy.

He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, as well as eleven honorary doctorates, two Distinguished Achievement Awards from the National Educational Press Association, and an Award of Excellence from the Associated Church Press. In 1998, the Leadership Project, a national survey of 10,000 educators, named him one of the thirty most influential senior leaders in higher education and one of the ten key agenda-setters of the past decade.  In 2011, the Utne Reader named him as one of “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World“–people who “don’t just think out loud but who walk their talk on a daily basis.”  You can find out more about Parker Palmer at The Center for Courage and Renewal, which he founded 16 years ago to foster personal and professional growth through supporting retreats and training programs.

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Jacob Needleman, Ph.D.

Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, former Visiting Professor at Duxx Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico, and former Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

He is the author of many books, including,  The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, What is God?The Wisdom of LoveMoney and the Meaning of LifeWhy Can’t We Be Good?, and his latest, An Unknown World: Notes on the Meaning of the Earth. He was also General Editor of the Penguin Metaphysical Library, a highly acclaimed selection of sixteen reprinted texts dealing with the contemporary search for spiritual ideas and practice.

In addition to his teaching and writing, he serves as a consultant in the fields of business, psychology, education, medical ethics and philanthropy, and is increasingly well known as an organizer and moderator of conferences in these fields. He has also been featured on Bill Moyers’ acclaimed PBS series, “A World of Ideas.”  You can learn more about Dr. Needleman on his website, jacobneedleman.com.

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Lessons we can Learn from Women Entrepreneurs

May 4th, 2009 | post a comment

Well, I have had my eyes opened! Over the past month, we have been working on a program that features women entrepreneurs. In talking with these women from both the U.S. and Europe, I have begun to understand a number of important aspects of the value of women entrepreneurs.

Let me start with the fact that women-owned businesses are being started at twice the rate of men-owned businesses. These businesses have twice the rate of staying in business than men-owned businesses (for women of color it’s four times). When asked why they started their businesses, no woman answered, “to make money”. Instead there were a variety of reasons that can be boiled down to wanting to serve their customers with something of real value.

These women are also facing challenges that don’t make it easy. These obstacles can be best summarized as access to capital and access to markets. Women find it more difficult to secure bank financing and investment funding, even though their repayment rates exceed those of men-owned businesses. They are often not taken seriously by large corporations and not included at the table for business opportunities, notwithstanding the policies these businesses have to support women-owned businesses.

Their response to these obstacles is a sense of determination. One of our guests said, “women can make profit from thin air.” Because of fewer resources and restricted opportunities, these women have found innovative ways to offer products and services that defy conventional thinking. They talked about how the experiences of motherhood prepared them for getting more done with less.

I feel this program is one of our best and you will benefit from the wisdom that these women generously shared. We will be airing another program with women entrepreneurs in about six weeks and welcome your feedback and recommendations.

Thomas

Change is in the air with School Lunch Programs

February 13th, 2009 | post a comment

As we were working on our program on school lunches, I found that I am more hopeful than I expected. In many ways, school lunches haven’t changed much since my experiences in the 60s. The same menus and the same attitude about lunches – they are a necessary part of the school experience but not an important part.

What we found is that the largest force in creating our school lunch programs is the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA provides funding and products for 95% of the schools in America. The underlying system is one that is shaped by the agricultural lobby in support of factory style farming. This program went into high gear during the Reagan years and has been largely unchanged since.

It is a program that rewards overproduction by providing a guaranteed market. This market is not the traditional consumer market or the fast food industry, it is for our kids. Look at the lunch menu of most schools, and you will find the usual suspects – hamburgers, beef ravioli, mac & cheese, hot dogs, pizza. Accompaniments are offered, such as vegetables, but you find that the kids don’t really eat much of those. Instead, they load up on ‘comfort food’.

The USDA nutrition guidelines are focused on the menu rather than what’s actually consumed. This disparity creates an imbalance in what kids eat, and this imbalance has several effects. Teachers notice that their students often lack energy in the afternoon. No wonder, when they have a carbohydrate centered lunch. The other effect is obesity. More and more of our young people are obese. The habits of eating are a major contributor to this rising crisis.

In schools, we often don’t realize that what our kids eat is as important as their math or English class. What they eat sets patterns for the rest of their life. Schools can play a significant role in educating children’s palates on what’s good for them. This education can help re-write their attraction to what tastes good, and may not be very healthy.

During our program on school lunches, we talk to some people who are making a difference in school lunches in two ways. The first is that they are committed to providing kids with healthy, fresh food that tastes great. Through building a trusting relationship with students and treating them as guests, food programs are being offered where children arrive home from school still full from lunch, and they eat a small evening meal.

The second outcome of these innovative programs is fostering the local family farm. By buying local (within 150 miles) produce, school lunch programs get great quality, fresh food that the students love. They are also creating a consistent market for farmers that encourages them to plant more, and gives them an outlet beyond the summer-only farmer’s markets.

We will be following up with other companies who are primary suppliers of school lunch programs to see if they can aim their aspirations in the same direction of these courageous and innovative people on our program today.

It’s Really Simple

February 10th, 2009 | post a comment

 

I’m sorry, but it’s really simple. The reason that we are getting fatter as a nation, and lagging behind 29 other countries in longevity, is that we have given the responsibility for our health over to someone else.

My parents grew up in central Illinois. They ate lots of fresh food that was prepared in the same way by generations of grandmas. This good food helped them be healthy and active. They never considered going out to eat as a “way of life”. As children of the depression, they were grateful for having food on the table and not worrying about where they would sleep.

Fast forward 70 years and what do we find? We are a nation that has moved from having fresh food as its main stay to a nation that is addicted to sweet, prepared food. There are lots of economic and social reasons for this change. What is not well understood is that there is also a business interest at play here.

In our recent Business Matters program on the impact of sweeteners, I discovered that until 1978 the percentage of the U.S. population that was obese didn’t change. In 1978, a growth in obesity began and it has accelerated.

I know there is a belief that there is no magic answer to the problem of obesity, and to some extent I accept that. However, I felt there was something at cause that if it were changed could reverse this trend.

I got to wondering about when High Fructose Corn Syrup was introduced into our foods. I found that it made its way into baby formula in the mid-70s. Coke switched from sugar to HFCS in the mid-80s. I looked at a number of websites about what foods HFCS is in and found it’s in about everything we eat that is processed.

There are some facts that most of us don’t think about with regard to HFCS. It is a highly subsidized farm product. Its use spread as farm subsidies drove its price down. So naturally, companies switched from sugar to HFCS because it was both cheap and easy (as a liquid it is easier to handle in mass-production).

I want to say right now I do not feel that HFCS is the culprit of our obesity crisis. I do think it is a symptom and that is my point. It is a symptom of a change in our choices about food. It is a symptom of our decision that fast and cheap is more important than healthy and carefully prepared. It is a symptom of our choice to expose our bodies to the effects of sweeteners from infancy.

We spend more than any other country on health care, and yet we have sicker folks and shorter lives than people in many other countries. The solution is reforming our way of life. This must be the focus of any change that will have an impact on health care reform.

We must move from delegating the responsibility for the nourishing of ourselves and our children to others, to assuming full responsibility ourselves. By assuming responsibility, we take control of the health of our families. We prod our school systems to do a better job in the food choices our kids have. We make meals at home so that we remember what’s in the food, and our kids can re-educate their palates. We can stop putting things in our mouth that are not good for us (what is the value to our bodies of drinking an 800 calories super-sized soda?).

When we resume our responsibility for what we eat, amazing things happen. Our health improves. Our vitality increases. We start getting a sense of wonder about our world and the gifts we have.

There will be some fallout, of course. For you, it may mean that you have to remember (or learn) how to prepare food. Initially, like anything new, it will seem like it takes more time. Don’t be discouraged, the payoff is real and comes quickly.

In the corporate world there will also be consequences. If we cut back on discretionary food that has no real nutritional value, the companies that produce that food will be impacted along with their suppliers. That’s ok though. They will figure out what you find to be of value to you and offer that.

There is no better time than now to step up to this responsibility. You will find in the end you’ll save some money, and the money you have will be better used for things that truly matter to your quality of life.

Living in a Bubble

February 6th, 2009 | post a comment

Bank Repo Real Estate

A few months ago I was reading an article in the The Atlantic titled, Infectious Exuberance. The article is about the factors that led to the meltdown in the housing market. What caught my attention was the way the author spoke about mood. As a student of cultures, I see the strong dynamic that mood plays for whatever culture I may be a member of. It could be the community where I live, the church I attend or the company where I work.

Robert Shiller, pointed out that the underlying factor that is always present in similar situations of a boom is contagious optimism. When we had the Internet bubble bust in 2001, we could track the contagious optimism that guided the decisions of investors who felt that the market was going to continue to rise indefinitely. This same enthusiasm was at play when we felt that housing prices that had been rising rapidly in many areas would continue to do so.

When history is considered, it would show us that in a world of capitalism there has always been rise and fall. This rise and fall is predictable and absolute. So what is it that keeps us from seeing the inevitable when we are in what Shiller calls a bubble? He points out that these bubble are social phenomena. Going further, I feel they are a collective mindset that has a simple story attached to it, “you can get rich without creating anything of value yourself.”

This mindset is so intoxicating that you can only see a reality that supports the mindset. Those that are not infected by the mindset see the world much differently. The know about expansion and contraction and watch diligently for the inevitable change. I mention this to you because this same phenomena of bubbles can be at play in every aspect of our lives.

Now we are on the other side of the economic bubble, the bust part. It isn’t really much different than the boom. In the bust phase, we believe things will continue to get worse. This pessimism continues and, just like the boom phase, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy until it runs out of steam. Then the next boom cycle will begin.

There are some who say we are in such a down swing that the next up cycle won’t happen for six or seven years. I don’t know. What I do know is that we are in a time of adjustment. This boom thinking has run its course. This time around there are different characteristics than in previous busts. For example, for the most part everyone is affected no matter where they live. We have build a very interdependent social and economic system. In past bust cycles, the impact was felt in multiple places, but not everywhere. This is why it is difficult to predict when something will change to move out of the bust cycle and what the change will look like.

I am very curious to watch this cycle to see where it leads. What about you?

Until later,

Thomas

What happened to make things seem so bad?

October 22nd, 2008 | post a comment

The-Seven-Gates-Of-Wisdom-1 4Some continuing comment on the state of the financial markets around the world. For the most part, the markets haveoperated in a fairly orderly manner for most of our lifetimes. There is a small group of business leaders in conjunction with government policy makers who have kept the current system in place. Those that have been master of this system have felt in complete control and have reaped vast wealth.

Something changed. I am uncertain when this change happened. This change is a disruption of the normal operating rules. I will elaborate at a future time about what is the cause of these changes and the fallout that is rapidly occurring due to the change.

What we can see as an outward sign of the disruption of the normal flow of things is the lack of a creditable approach to restoring confidence of investors in the value of companies in all sectors of the economic system. Normally, I wouldn’t write about this type of thing in this BLOG, but the impact is so far reaching that I am writing about it everywhere. There are many who have been heralding this change. I have not taken them as seriously as I could have because most of their writing is fear based. I don’t find that useful. I did forget however, that I can gain value from listening to a fearful conversation if I look to the factors that created the fear rather than be caught up in the emotion.

Yesterday as part of the preparation for next week’s radio program on the real truth of the $700B bailout, I was talking with a journalist who was a former Assistant Secretary of Treasury in the Reagan administration. This person is very clear about the factors that are causing the current crisis. One of the things that I took away from the conversation is that the people who created the chaotic system we are trying to change were creators of the system.

As Albert Einstein was to have said, “A problem can’t be solved by the same consciousness that created it”. This situation can’t be solved by those who created it. They are digging deeper and deeper holes that generations to come will be saddled with. The prosperity we have experienced for several generations is crumbling.

What to do? That is a question that is consuming my whole attention. For the walk from here will be much different than the journey so far. I will share with you what I feel are reasonable steps for anyone who chooses to take charge of their situation rather than be at the effect of others choices.

Until later,.

Thomas

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Small is Beautiful and Productive – a guest posting

September 2nd, 2008 | 3 comments

By Jules Dervaes, www.PathtoFreedom.com
Julesdervaestrowel-Copyright 2007 Chris Kelly
I wanted acreage. Millions more like me desired the same. I dreamed of an idyllic country home where I could get away from it all. Yeah, and everyone else with the same hope would be joining in the migration to grab what land there was available. I needed space in which to satisfy my latent Bonanza longing. But, I’d probably croak on the spot for lack of the needed skills and, more importantly, for the dearth of experience needed to deal with all kinds of new, rural situations. Problems, that is.

But, I didn’t want to wait; I couldn’t wait. Waiting was dangerous. The doomsday clock for the world’s food supply would only keep on ticking as I watched, sitting on the sidelines. And, there was the palpable fear that, no matter how minor, any postponement would be the start of the strict, systematic cadence of caution. (”Now, let’s be reasonable.”… “There’s no need to do anything drastic.”… “Why do you have to be different?”… “Don’t be such an alarmist!”)
And, just like that, such a hopeful moment, pregnant with so many wild, hot and uninhibited possibilities, would vanish. My old ‘friend’ practicality would have once more prevailed as it had done many times before on these forbidding occasions, in order to keep me in line. Oh, but don’t you know, one can come to the end of one’s rope. So, after having goose stepped for so long in this maddening cultural parade, I chose this instant, this cause, to exchange my marching boots for some gardening ones.

Rather than waste precious time thinking about where we would like to be–sitting on 5, 10, 20 or more acres in the country–we would make a go of it with what we had. But, there were always nagging doubts at every turn. We needed more vegetables. “There is no room here!” We needed more fruit. “There is no room here for trees!” We needed animals. “Surely, there isn’t room here for them, too!” The doubts would keep playing their dirge; the question was: Would I dance to their tune?

Being small was going to be one big challenge. Was it ‘un-American’? Our appetites tend toward supersizing. It certainly would feel peculiar to be satisfied with less. I can get enviously green over large green spaces. So, how could I happily accept this pathetic, downsized acreage? It would come down to this: Could we make–by hook or by crook–one city lot in the hand worth five such lots “in the bush”? And, down the gauntlet was thrown!

Thinking small has made all the difference in the world. Everything is so tight, which makes for one heck of a busy, stressful situation but one that is, nonetheless, truly rewarding–physically, emotionally and spiritually. A very special bonus is being able to derive a small income from our 1/5th acre city lot. So, today, by working all the angles and leaving no stone unturned, I am beginning to feel just now a small but real sense of independence.

Why can’t we all become independent as our farmer-forefathers were before us? The freedom they tasted came from making a living the old-fashioned way; they had to earn it from the soil. The sweat of their daily physical toil brought forth the pure sweetness of another day of standing on your own. It was all in the knock-down, drag-out struggle to get a life.
Independent is as independent does. So, hit the path!

Copyright © Jules Dervaes 2003. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Good news for you!!!!

September 1st, 2008 | post a comment

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. – Mohandas Ghandi

I’ve got good news for you. I know I sound like some sort of salesman. In a way I am. I am letting you know of a new feature on our website. Beginning this week, we will expand our Business Matters Blog to include writings from many of our program’s guests. During the week after a program airs, you can find postings in the guest’s own voice that will I believe will broaden your understanding of the topical area of the program and more importantly inspire you into action.

We also invite your participation. You can comment on any blog entry and share your feedback and insights with everyone. You can also offer a posting of your own. Simple submit it to feedback@businessmatters.net. We will get right back to you about placing your post on the site.

Please let us know how this new features is of value to you.

Until later,

Thomas

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New Home, New Website, New Direction

August 28th, 2008 | post a comment

Hello to all those who listen to our program. Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you. Today marks our first broadcast on WLUW in Chicago. We also have a new website, we welcome your comments on useful you find it.

From the inception of Business Matters, our purpose has been to serve two roles.

The first is to bring you new perspectives that provoke. We are committed to bring important issues that have an impact on the quality of life we can experience. Through the stories of our guests, we aim to offer you insights that will have you say, “Hey I like to be an agent for change” So that’s goal one..

The other goal we have is activation. Its not enough to know you want things to be different. It requires each of us to bring ourselves into action. Action that is an example of the change we desire.

This weeks program is a perfect example of our ambition. This is a program about bringing vitality back to our local communiites.

We start the program with Celine Rich. Celine is a co-founder of the Post Carbon Institute. They have been activist for creating local activation that is a direct response to the crisis of fossil fuel depletion and climate change. Celine with several collaborators crystalized the concept of “Relocalization” They defined this phenomena as bringing back to our local communities self-sufficiency in food and energy production and the development of prosperous local economies. Our interview with Celine will help you understand what’s driving this trend and how it could be brought into your local community.

Our second interview is with Michael Shuman. Michael has also been on the beat of relocalization for over 10 years. In 1998, he wrote “Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age” , Since then, Michael has been an advocate for reclaiming our local economies and shifting the political power from being the exclusive domain of big business to being shared with small, local businesses. Michael has served as the catalyst for the Business Alliance for Local Living and Economies.

Finally, we talk to Jules Dervaes. Jules and his 3 adult children are true practioners of relocalization. They have developed on 1/10 an acre near downtown Pasadena, Ca a sustainable micro-farm that produces 6000 pounds of food per year. This is something that all the “experts” say is impossible. They sell part of the produce to local restaurants. They also have a number of home-based businesses that support them. You can find out a lot more at their website Path to Freedom.

Finally, we extend an invitation to you. First we invite you to see how you can become involved in even a small way in being a catalyst for bringing back to our local communities (even in downtown Chicago) food and energy production. Also what can you do to support our local merchants who keep their profits right in your town.

If you have any stories you want to share, please leave them hear or drop us a line – we would love to hear from you.

Until later,

Thomas

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Business Matters is a weekly radio program that offers its listeners admission into the inner circle of thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and executives from the worlds of business, government and non-profit. Through unbiased dialogue we explore the decisions and actions of their organizations and the impact they have on the economy, culture, the environment, public policy and international relations.

We bring our listeners a portal into the future. We feature guests who are breaking down old paradigms and creating new models for success through innovations in the areas of science, technology, philosophy and management.