Okay, I know I need to focus on Time Well Spent, getting the business plan finalized including those dreaded financial pro-forma statements, BUT I just need to get this idea on the weblog and out of my head (for the time being)…
My research has taken me virtually all over the country (get it? virtually…), learning about lots of wonderful businesses that embrace the triple-bottom-line (all together now: serving a social and an environmental mission in a financially-self-sustaining business model based on effective and efficient use of proven business concepts)…
Bear in mind, I have a strong belief in the concentric nature of communities… from neighborhood, to town, to suburb, to region, to state, to country to the global community. I believe that Think Globally & Act Locally works within and through those concentric communities. So, when discussions start about growing the Local Economy and Sustainability and the like, I immediately envision what one geographic area could do to improve the local situation, economically, socially and environmentally, and I see those steps being played out similarly in local economies across the country… Picture one pebble thrown in a pond. Now picture a whole handful… See how the concentric circles between to intersect. That’s the reality of our living communities on Earth today… The ripple effect can be positive or negative, but there is no denying that it exists as each community ultimately impacts others.
With that in mind, I think there are several potential organizations that could provide the cornerstones for a more sustainable foundation, a socially and environmentally responsible local economy where all stakeholders benefit from the existence of each organization (aka social enterprise, conscious capitalism, lots of names all spelling the oppostive of profit-only motivated organizations)… Have I lost you? I hope not. Read on for some examples that might help bring my vision into focus…
Local readers will know what I mean when I mention Old Route One… For everyone else: Route 1 is a secondary highway that runs in a north-south direction through Massachusetts. OLD Route One is the portion on the North of Boston end where the divided highway of end-to-end retail space gives way to the undivided section of hills that rollercoaster up and down for several miles, through Topsfield and past the Topsfield Fairgrounds, leveling off in Ipswich and continuing through Rowley, along the marshes of Newbury and into Newburyport, a tourist and creative hub with a growing environmental mindset that is poised to lead the growing green movement north of Boston.
On the North Shore, we have a Greenbelt already – The Essex County Greenbelt – a conservation-based organization that has amassed quite a bit of protected land in perpetuity… It’s quite a lovely place to live and raise a family, if I do say so… All that protected space is a fabulous treasure, but what’s the point if the surrounding communities are filled with people struggling to make ends meet or industries challenging the very ecosystems that the Greenbelt celebrates. To make the area an even better place to live, in terms of sustainability and environmentally-friendly business growth and the consequences for the communities of residents, I’ve imagined the Old Route One GreenWay…
Along Old Route One are many lots of land for sale, some already built out with various manufacturing and business outcroppings. What better way to stimulate the economy and set a wonderful example for other suburban communities throughout the country than to build out the area with mindful awareness of the triple-bottom-line? Creating a thread of conscious capitalism tying various businesses across several industries together with a common commitment to community, in both human and environmental terms…
Building on the latest ideas that are already out there this paradigm-changing time, here are a few enterprises that just might work on my fantasy Old Route One GreenWay:
A used bookstore a la More Than Words… Decluttering books from our homes but saving them from the landfills… Including some job training for at-risk youth (or another group representing those in need of support), as More Than Words has done, ups the benefit tally… I’ve blogged about MTW a lot – just search for them in the right-hand column search tool.
A clothing donation center to meet adult needs a la Cradles to Crayons efforts for children. A place for the efficient processing and dissemination of business attire, basic clothing needs, winter coats and such, prom gowns, etc. All efficiently run under one roof via partnering relationships with service organizations throughout the greater Boston, North Shore and seacoast areas, thus taking the burden off of them so they can focus on their main goals of rehabilitation, job and life skill training and the like… Cradles to Crayons is another organization that I’ve blogged about for those interested in reading more of my take on this wonderful business model.
A multi-topic recycling center like Canada-based Raven Recycling . This for all those items that we can’t repurpose at Time Well Spent… same idea of getting the stuff to the right hands, partnering with values-based organizations.
An architectural and building salvage company… Lots of examples here, many of which employ those faced with the challenges of a trying past, for any number of reasons. A favorite of mine is Renew Salvage in Brattleboro, VT, a place I’ve visited when taking my daughter to summer dance camp. Brattleboro’s pretty cool, in general, and a visit to Renew Salvage is like a treasure hunt for lovers of all things architectural and salvage-able.
Here’s a bit from their website:
ReNew’s mission is to contribute to and encourage the preservation and renewal of the Earth’s natural resources and to support low-income families to build, remodel and repair their homes.
To accomplish our mission, we:
Operate a recycled and “green” building materials store
Provide deconstruction services
Educate the general public, home owners, & builders about reuse alternatives
Provide job skills training opportunities for individuals
Support nonprofit groups who share our mission
Here are a few more of the same, just to point out that this idea is being replicated in many communities in a variety of ways:
Boston-based Building Material Resource Center ~ a great example of serving those in need and the environment, this organization has a non-profit and for-profit, with donated building materials being sold to those less fortunate working to improve their living space.
I have a few more ideas along more industrial lines that would indeed not work in one suburb after the next. I’m going to save those to share with my local contacts ~ that makes good business sense and still reflects conscious capitalism…
I’d love to hear what other inspired local folks think of some of the ideas set forth here… the Old Route One Greenway, in general, and some of the specific possibilities. Anyone interested in hearing about those ideas that I’ve still got up my sleeve, feel free to call/text/email or reply to this post.