Judy Wicks’ 2004 Annual E. F. Schumacher Lecture described the White Dog Café and the vision and principles that inspire similar locally-based businesses that treat employees fairly, source materials regionally, and support other community businesses.
“Let me capsulize the local-living-economy movement for you by contrasting what it is and what it is not, what it does and what it does not do:
- maximization of relationships, not of profits;
- growth of consciousness and creativity, not brands and market share;
- democracy and decentralized ownership, not concentrated wealth;
- a living return, not the highest return;
- a living wage, not the minimum wage;
- a fair price, not the lowest price;
- sharing, not hoarding;
- simplicity, not luxury;
- life-serving, not self-serving;
- partnership, not domination;
- cooperation, not competition;
- win-win exchange, not win-lose exploitation;
- family farms, not factory farms;
- biodiversity, not monocrops;
- cultural diversity, not monoculture;
- creativity, not conformity;
- slow food, not fast food;
- our bucks, not Starbucks;
- our mart, not Wal-Mart;
- a love of life, not a love of money.”
The BerkShares businesses featured in the “Business of the Month” series understand this ethic.
“When you’re in business long enough, eventually people get to know you, they trust you, and they know what you’re all about,” says Locke Larkin, who runs Locke, Stock, and Barrel in the Berkshires. “I work with producers who still have a feeling for what they make, they care about it, and it’s their reputation that’s on the line. . . When the town’s businesses cooperate, it’s a better place for everyone. Competition is the old paradigm. The new paradigm is ‘let’s cooperate.’ We’re all in the same boat, so let’s get our oars aligned.”
Eric Wilska, the owner of an independent bookstore says, “The mission of BerkShares really makes sense—to keep money circulating in town. We all talk like that, but with BerkShares you can put your money where your mouth is. . . I’d love to drag people in to the back room and show them a chart. Here’s a list on the left-hand side of all the things the Bookloft has done in 39 years, such as: number of high school kids and interns hired over the years—62; number of gift certificates given—thousands; amount of sales tax paid to Massachusetts—$3 million; payroll paid out to people who live in town; taxes paid to the town. . . And on the right-hand side the same categories for a company such as Amazon. The amounts would literally be zero. Zero, zero, zero.”
In her 2004 Schumacher talk, Judy Wicks went on to argue that supporting local businesses is more than a strategy for building resilient local economies:
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the local-living-economy movement is that by creating self-reliance we are creating the foundations for world peace. If all communities had food security, water security, and energy security, if they appreciated diversity of culture rather than a monoculture, that would be the foundation for world peace. Schumacher said, ‘People who live in highly self-sufficient local communities are less likely to get involved in large-scale violence than people whose existence depends on world-wide systems of trade.’ There you go!
Judy Wicks’ newly published Good Morning Beautiful Business, from Chelsea Green, is available at independent booksellers. It has hit a resounding chord with readers. As a result, Judy’s tour schedule is full and her events enthusiastically packed. On April 17th she will be in Northampton for the Pioneer Valley Sustainable Network. Join us there.
“A good community insures itself by trust, by good faith and good will, by mutual help. A good community, in other words, is a good local economy.”
-Wendell Berry from “Work of Local Culture”