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Solutions & sustainability - April 11

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Democracy Now: North Carolina Town Prints Own Currency to Support Local Business

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
We take a look at how one North Carolina town is trying to become more self-sufficient by moving toward being able to feed, fuel and finance itself. The town of Pittsboro houses the nation’s largest biodiesel cooperative, a food co-op, a farmers’ market and, most recently, its own currency, the Pittsboro Plenty. Pittsboro is one of a number of communities across the country printing their own money in an attempt to support local business. [includes rush transcript]
(9 April 2009)
EB contributor Jim Barton writes:
An intern and I spent dozens of hours studying local currency in Fall 2005. At that point, many local currencies were defunct or almost so. There seems to be a "new wave" of local currencies which are spending more time in the planning and development phase. And good so-- the experiments in Totnes, UK and Great Barrington, MA and Traverse City, MI are all new since then and seem to be working out well. The Chapel Hill PLENTY appears revived, and I'm curious about the Detroit CHEER.



Boulder's Transition movement offers grassroots action for more sustainable lives

Cindy Sutter, Boulder Daily Camera (Colorado)
Last month, 18 people came together in Louisville to dig up a yard to become a vegetable plot.

That's not too unusual nowadays: Boulder County nurseries report a surge in interest in home vegetable gardening, and a revival of World War II-style Victory Gardens is a trend nationwide. What makes this particular patch of dirt different is that it's part of an effort called Transition -- whose members have a goal considerably more comprehensive than supplying local families with fresh produce. They envision nothing less than a community that has made the transition away from fossil fuels to a sustainable, locally based economy, able to largely feed itself and create local jobs.

The Transition movement, which got its start in the United Kingdom, is a model being implemented in 150 communities in various countries, including locations in the United States. Transition Boulder County was the first Transition initiative in the United States, getting its start in May of last year. It is an extension of Boulder County Going Local, a re-localization group that has been in existence since May 2005. What's different about Transition, says Michael Brownlee, who heads the Boulder County group, is that it offers a more comprehensive plan to accomplish its goals.

The plan includes 12 steps, such as forming an initiating group, raising awareness, networking with existing groups, staging a large community event called "The Great Unleashing" to draw in the wider population, forming working groups from that event and working in the community to create an "energy descent action plan."
(10 April 2009)



An urgent call to 'buy local'

Tim Holt, Christian Science Monitor
Job developer Michael Shuman seeks to rebuild struggling communities with home-grown businesses.
---
For Michael Shuman it was the equivalent of an earthquake. Seeking cheaper labor in Canada, Toronto-based Branscan Corp. threw 1,400 people out of work by closing two paper mills in Millinocket, Maine, in 2002. The unemployment rate in this region of central Maine skyrocketed to Depression era levels of nearly 40 percent.

Mr. Shuman, an economist and job developer, was called in for damage control. Aided by an $8 million federal grant, he and his colleagues at Maine's Training and Development Corp. were able to help most of the laid-off workers get back on their feet. But the experience convinced Shuman to do what any sensible person might do after such a calamity: Build something that's earthquake-resistant.

To him, that involves locally owned businesses.

For the past five years, Shuman has been barnstorming across the United States, preaching the gospel of economic "localism." It's an appeal to community values as well as economic self-interest, a call to support locally owned businesses that don't outsource, don't pack up their businesses and leave on a moment's notice, and who recycle their customers' dollars back into the community.

Shuman describes his effort as "a political campaign that never ends." He speaks mostly in small rural communities, often desolate landscapes with shuttered mills and boarded-up storefronts. His campaign has put him in the epicenter of a debate about what's best for the economic health of a community: Locally owned businesses or large, multinational chain stores.

... These and other promotions are being spread around the country through the Business Alliance For Local Living Economies. Founded seven years ago by Philadelphia restaurant owner Judy Wicks and Laury Hammel, a Boston health-club owner, BALLE has grown to include some 60 small business networks in the US and Canada. Shuman was involved in BALLE's formative stages, providing the organization with its intellectual underpinnings. In the next few months, he'll be joining BALLE to work full-time on economic development and public policy initiatives.
(9 February 2009)
This group, BALLE, is having a conference in May - see next item.



Entrepreneurs Building Living Economies - Colorado conference in May

Bus
Denver Colorado, May 21-23, 2009

The seventh annual BALLE conference is the premier venue to forge deep connections with entrepreneurs, social innovators, investors, policymakers, and BALLE network leaders. Together we are building a global network of local living economies.

Speakers
Keynote Speakers:
Melissa Bradley-Burns, senior strategist, Green for All
Melissa Hardy, worker-owner, BioFuel Oasis
Elliot Hoffman, co-founder and CEO, New Voice of Business
June Holley, co-founder, Network Weaving, and co-founder, ACEnet
David Korten, Yes! Magazine
Hunter Lovins, president and founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions
Susan Matteucci, founder, Southwest Creations Collaborative
Michel Nischan, chef, The Dressing Room, A Homegrown Restaurant
Barry O'Neill, president, CUPE BC
Michael Shuman, research and policy director, BALLE
Tom Stearns, founder, High Mowing Seeds
Jerome Ringo, president, Apollo Alliance

Featured Speakers:
Baye Adofo-Wilson, esq., executive director, Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District
Matt Bauer, co-founder, BetterWorld Telecom
Bob Gough, secretary, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy
Laury Hammel, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston
Paul Jensen, founder, One Tribe Creative
Gailmarie Kimmel, Be Local Northern Colorado
Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia
Mickki Langston, Mile High Business Alliance
Michelle Long, co-founder, Sustainable Connections
Jeff Mendelsohn, founder and CEO, New Leaf Paper
Jamila Payne, founder, Milla by Mail
Vicki Pozzebon, Santa Fe Alliance
Paul Saginaw, co-founder, Zingerman's Community of Businesses
Elissa Sangalli Hilary, Local First West Michigan
Don Shaffer, president, RSF Social Finance
Raphaël Souchier, president, REEL Hérault (Réseau d'Entreprises pour une
Economie Locale vivante - Hérault)
Judy Wicks, founder, White Dog Café

About BALLE
The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) brings together small business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, social innovators, and community leaders to build local living economies. We provide local, state, national, and international resources to this new model of economic development.

We´re showing that independent locally owned businesses can go beyond traditional measures of success. We're proving that these businesses are accountable to stakeholders and the environment. We're helping these businesses flourish in their local economies. And we're leveraging the power of local networks to build a web of economies that are community-based, green, and fair - local living economies.
(April 2009)

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