Here’s your primer on how to ensure your local economic development policies are measuring what matters and positioning the conversation around the REAL cost of doing business with non-local businesses.
If you were part of the November 27 webinar from Local First Procurement expert Kimber Lanning, you know all about economic gardening. If not, here’s your primer on how to ensure your local economic development policies are measuring what matters and positioning the conversation around the REAL cost of doing business with non-local businesses.
When it comes to making the case for local suppliers to procurement pros, Kimber offered some sure-fire tips: Be an expert. Get your facts, data, research and studies together so you can make the case for why procurement policies might be failing your community. Be prepared for the arguments against local suppliers (crazy, but true, some folks think it’s too regulatory, anti-free trade or will causes big businesses to leave the
state). Use the right measurement stick to evaluate the value. What is the rate of return? How many full-
time employees with benefits vs. part time employees with no health care? What kind of charitable contributions are made by locally owned businesses that won’t come to the community through a big box contract? And quantify the second tier jobs: web designers, accountants, service providers to that local company that might go away and have a tremendous ripple effect in a local economy.
Once you have data and a solid case for local procurement, make sure you are talking about it in terms that will resonate with your local political and business leaders. Job creation and economics might have more impact
than talking about preference. Align with politicians who step out on the issue and support them whenever possible.
In many communities around North America, because of the extended economic downtown, large out of state companies are bidding more frequently on smaller contracts, competing more often with locally owned, smaller
providers. Arm yourself with what you need to know to compete and win – regardless of size or cost.
By developing a local steering committee with various industries represented, you’ll have strength in numbers. And beyond the usual suspects of office supply stores, food services or other common procurement ‘no brainers’ – look for architects, engineers, contractors and others who might be losing out on bigger contracts repeatedly.
It’s not going to be easy, but with hard work, the right facts at your fingertips, and a good coalition behind you, local procurement can vastly benefit your business and your community.
In our November 20 webinar, BALLE Fellow Kimberlee Williams gave the perfect primer for how to communicate – authentically and with impact – to diverse audiences.
Our November 20th webinar by BALLE Fellow Kimberlee Williams of FEMWORKS was a perfect primer for how to communicate – authentically and with impact – to diverse audiences. More than simply translating, Kimberlee pointed out that we need to be communicating beyond our differences and talking to each other in ways that impact all of our actions and collaborations. In other words, to be communicating with authenticity, we have to show up, be part of the community we are seeking support from, and genuinely move our actions towards collaboration — not just talk.
Relationships can be built in different communities if you have insight, integrity and intention. Kimberlee gave examples of how to achieve all three and to ultimately obtain reach of our message through immersion in a community, engagement with that community, and building authentic relationships.
A key takeaway from the session came when we were asked to reflect on the following questions: What is your vision for engagement? And what is your motivation?
We all have specific needs – for example, finishing a grant or funding proposal in which we need insight from a key audience – but once that piece is complete, what happens to the relationships you’ve built? We have to jump right in, and stay put in order to achieve genuine, sustained support.
Develop a community advisory board or show up in a community to learn about what and who is important, and why. Find out: How do messages get disseminated? Where do people gather? Are people texting or listening to the radio? Use your newfound resources to help shape and develop messages – don’t just translate your materials into another language. Unleash this peer to peer influence by using real people – not stock photography – in your outreach and campaign materials.
Thanks to Kimberlee for her insight, for offering specific steps to building cultural bridges that will amplify our work!
Our inspiring webinar this week, Timebanking as Community Capital, with Dane County TimeBank Founder Stephanie Rearick, was an eye-opening primer into the world of building your own community economy, also known as Timebanking. Purchase the recording!
“Imagine a Martian landing in a poor neighborhood and seeing rundown communities, people sleeping in the streets, children without mentors or going hungry, trees and rivers dying from lack of care, ecological breakdowns and all of the other problems we face. He would also discover that we know exactly what to do about all these things. Finally, he would see that many people willing to work are either unemployed, or use only a part of their skills. He would see that many have jobs but are not doing the work they are passionate about. And they are all waiting for money. Imagine the Martian asking us to explain what is that strange ‘money’ thing we seem to be waiting for. Could you tell him with a straight face that we are waiting for ‘an agreement within a community to use something – really almost anything – as a medium of exchange’? And keep waiting? Our Martian might leave wondering whether there is intelligent life on this planet”
-Bernard Lietaer’s The Future of Money
If you missed the inspiring webinar this week, Timebanking as Community Capital, with Dane County TimeBank Founder Stephanie Rearick, you missed an eye-opening primer into the world of building your own community economy, also known as Timebanking. Far from being a far-fetched fringe movement, creating a community economy that is not centered around money is fast becoming a viable (simple, and easy) form of DIY Economic Justice!
First the lay of the land: We all have something of value, something precious and constant. Time. And we all know ways that we want our world to be better — our own lives to be better. So what are we waiting for? (Hint, if you answered money, you are in for a surprising alternative!) Timebanking is simple. Give an hour. Get an hour. Skills in this simple economic transaction aren’t weighted by value (for example an hour of legal advice is valued the same as an hour of pet care) and that is what makes it beautiful, simple and powerful.
We all have something to give, and we are all looking to receive services or products — but money gets in the way.
Now that you are ready to start your own community timebank, onto the practical application: Many forms of software are available, and there are resources galore to get you started (check out Timebanks.org as a first step).
“We have what we need, if we use what we have.” Let the bartering begin! Thanks Stephanie for opening our eyes to another form of commerce, one that is surely going to become a mainstay in many communities.
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Tenneson Woolf Consulting Blog
“One of the things I love about BALLE is that they are offering solutions and critical connections in a rather complex environment.” Read these reflections on the workshop cohosted by BALLE in Chicago.
The following blog was written by Tenneson Woolf about his experience of the Art of Hosting workshop cohosted by BALLE in September of this year.
Last week Teresa Posakony, Lina Cramer, Kevin Johnson and I worked with Christine Ageton, Alissa Barron and others from the BALLE Network (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). BALLE is an inspiring and rapidly growing network that represents a strong commitment to restoring community through local businesses. They’ve recently launched their new website with particular branding around connecting leaders, spreading solutions, and sharing helpful resources in the localist movement.
One of the things I love about BALLE is that they are offering solutions and critical connections in a rather complex environment. There is a kind of hunger, heartfulness, and simplicity that I appreciate and saw in the people I met. Their actions are anchored in the simple, an invitation for each person to do what they are doing and a bit more. Yet, their vision is appropriately massive: “Within a generation, we envision a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that function in harmony with local ecosystems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.”
It was an inspiring couple of days spent together in the beauty of Chicago’s Berger Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Using the Art of Hosting pattern for learning, we gave attention to several key questions like those named here:
A few other bits of harvest are here:
Blog post from Teresa Posakony on the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce story
The Huffington Post
There is great work yet to do to build the healthy and resilient local businesses, economies and communities that we need. Building the entrepreneurial capacity of our communities to produce basic needs as close to home as possible, and connecting entrepreneurs to the ideas and networks that will help them to succeed will be as critical, or more critical, than access to values-aligned capital.
Last week our partners at SoCap gathered 1,600 investors, funders, philanthropists and individuals interested in how to connect money and meaning. SoCap has fast become the place to go for the “impact investing” conversation. A term that was itself only coined a couple of years ago, impact investing aims to shift industries and make an impact, not just to screen out negative or harmful investments. It is incredibly heartening on a number of levels to see the flood of interest coming — including from big government (USDA), big foundations (Gates, Rockefeller), and big finance (Morgan Stanley).
While there, I had incredible conversations and met many people who are part of our movement to create real local prosperity. I also met several brilliant people from academia, foundations and the private sector, who were exploring the question of how do we change the rules at a systems level? I also met a good number of people who seemed confident (hopeful?) that we could tweak the edges of the current system, still funnel wealth into the same few hands — and somehow expect radically different results. As well as others who were anxious to scale solutions, any solutions, fast.
I honor all those who are working with a passion to do something about all that’s broken. But to quote Ed Murrow, “Anyone who isn’t confused right now, really doesn’t understand the situation.”
The first morning of the conference, Katherine Fulton of the Monitor Institute, and an adviser to BALLE, took the stage and said, “Our financial and economic system is broken, in crisis, and headed down. We are in the time between times.” I thought that was a beautiful statement. We don’t yet know. We know that old forms of our culture, economy, and finance are dying and that there is going to be pain and grief for many who built things that will decline, and for many of us who feel comforts in what we knew. There is no plug-and-play solution that can pop out one economic system for another at the level of scale. We don’t know what the world is going to become. We’re in a time that requires experimentation, curiosity and, I’d say, a whole lot of humility and kindness.
Katherine offered a further forecast. According to the Monitor Institute’s new report “From Blueprint to Scale: The Case for Philanthropy in Impact Investing”:
“It is certainly plausible that in the next five to 10 years investing for impact could grow to represent about 1 percent of estimated professionally managed global assets in 2008. That would create a market of approximately $500 billion. A market that size would create an important supplement to philanthropy, nearly doubling the amount given away in the U.S. alone today.”
Yet while the demand for investment opportunities that make an impact and still provide healthy returns is obviously growing greatly, the realities on the ground don’t match. “We are in a time between times…” There is great work yet to do to build the healthy and resilient local businesses, economies and communities that we need. Building the entrepreneurial capacity of our communities to produce basic needs as close to home as possible, and connecting entrepreneurs to the ideas and networks that will help them to succeed will be as critical, or more critical, than access to values-aligned capital. My friend, colleague, and board member, Don Shaffer, CEO of RSF Social Finance, shared the stage with me the final morning of the conference. You can watch our short talks here.
Though impact investing is currently a big tent term, at BALLE, we adhere to a philosophy much more in line with the theory of change at RSF Social Finance. Our path to scale would envision the replication of their model as an alternative to Wall Street, to build more local ownership and real prosperity at the local level, for more people. And BALLE and RSF are now working together to replicate and grow the RSF model in BALLE communities through our Local Economy Funders program. As usual, I left SoCap with the conviction that the challenges we face are so big, so complex, that they require us all, to act from where we are. To start in our own communities, not with lofty, far-reaching “planet-saving” solutions, but with real change in real places, right here, right now, together. To quote a friend I saw at SoCap, David Orr:
“The planet does not need more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”
Here’s to all of our journey together.