She is a co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), which builds networks of locally-owned businesses within communities that promote buying from each other, respecting the environment, and paying a living wage. At home, she built the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Each of the networks draws on local experts representing the building blocks of a sustainable economy: food, power, health, construction, etc.
She is a living example of following her conscience. As the owner of the White Dog Cafe, she originally felt resistance to the living wage movement because she did not want to be told by others what she should pay her employees. But after looking at the faces of her trusted staff, she thought, of course she wanted to make sure they were able to cover their basic needs.
This personal connection with people and place has been an ongoing theme for her. She feels personally responsible for her restaurant’s location, which is also where she lives. She has been living on the second floor of her brownstone building in Philadelphia ever since she fought to prevent it from being torn down to make room for a mall. After a drought died up the natural areas close to home, she became conscious of how she was contributing to global warming and converted her restaurant to run on 100% renewable energy.
The White Dog Cafe is famous for being the first in the Philadelphia area to use humanely-raised cows and pigs and organic produce. In order to make that happen, she had to personally set up a network of suppliers. And, she didn’t stop there. She felt strongly enough about shifting her local economy away from factory farming, the Cafe provided capital to help the suppliers distribute the good stuff to her competitors. This grew into a non-profit, White Dog Community Enterprises, which receives 20% of their income from the for-profit restaurant.
Believe it or not, there is more. Her life and work is a great example of the benefits of carefully building local living economies. Smallwander.com believes that towns that incorporate these principles are also great places to visit, since they are living and vibrant, take care of their people and animals, have unique activities going on, and celebrate the authentic.
Although I have no children of my own, I have traveled with my nieces to far-off places. Things occurred. One time, as I tried to keep an eye on my sister’s 2-year-old in the airport lobby, the child trained her eye on another traveler’s sleeve of french fries. Fixating on the prize, her heart slowed to just a few beats-per-minute as she shifted into predator mode and moved forward. I attempted to block her path, all the while claiming I had no experience with this sort of thing to the embarrassed frie-eater.
If I had known of Mom Most Traveled, I could have picked up some tips on keeping the kid occupied before things degenerated into unpleasantness.
Our next smallwander.com phone/web seminar will be on a closed-circuit Skype call this Monday, August 25. However, you will be able to catch the podcast by downloading it from this blog, if I handle the technology of recording it OK.
Our guest will be the proprietor of Mom Most Traveled. Her blog discusses all things about traveling with small children and living with them in foreign lands that are not necessarily kid-friendly. Pick up some valuable tips from the podcast, once it’s posted.
We’ll go back to the call-in format for our next seminar on September 29. Our seminars are always on the last Monday of the month at 10 am. Subscribe to this blog for updates.