Visionary green business ventures at BALLE

Authors: alli A couple of weeks ago, wearing my new hat of Community and Business Partners Manager for Green For All, I had the chance to go to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Conference in Boston, MA. I was excited to hear, from both seasoned and emerging entrepreneurs, their stories of sacrifice, dedication and vision in creating locally-based, socially-responsible and ecologically-motivated business ventures in cities across the United States and Canada. I was most moved by a few of the business leaders who have implemented businesses in urban areas, and have committed to hiring people from disenfranchised neighborhoods and those who have been formerly incarcerated. These entrepreneur-activists’ commitment to the health and wellbeing of everyone in our communities is truly a model we can look to for guidance and inspiration as we build Green For All. A couple of these businesses leaders to highlight include Glynn Lloyd of City Fresh Foods from Boston and Brenda Palms-Barber of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN) and Sweet Beginnings from Chicago. In a panel entitled, “Inner-City Entrepreneurship,” these visionary manifesters spoke about the challenges and rewards in implementing business models that lift up those who have been the most neglected in our society. Under Brenda’s leadership, the NLEN received the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. She developed an innovative job creation program that provides green collar jobs growing urban honey and making and selling honey-based personal care products under the Beeline label. I originally met Brenda when she joined us in Memphis at the Dream Reborn conference in April. She shared with us how in only a few years, this green business has seen 68 formerly incarcerated men go through the program successfully. Only two got swept back into the prison system, one of whom is mentally-disabled and should never have been convicted. This year over 100 men will participate. Brenda knew that a business needed to exist to support her community in Chicago, which is home to thousands of people returning from the criminal justice system every year with no real options to break out of the cycle. If you know of a store that want so stock these quality products loaded with heart and soul go to: Glynn Lloyd is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of City Fresh Foods, a food service operation that daily provides over 2,000 Latin, Southern and Caribbean meals to elders, school students and private events. They are a nationally recognized minority-owned food service company and ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the Top Urban Businesses in the country in 2002, 2003 and 2005. City Fresh Foods has two food service solutions: on-site food service management to seniors, businesses, education and government and meal delivery to seniors, public and charter schools, day care centers and community organizations. Their traditional, home-style meals use fresh ingredients and are the only food service company in the nation that offers dining services programs with a variety of traditional and ethnic menus from which to choose. Glynn has developed a successful business model that incorporates community and economic development. As their website declares, “We believe that business is a powerful vehicle for empowering our youth, developing the community, and nurturing the environment.” In these times of environmental and social crises, we are seeing an upsurge in just, green enterprises. As Green For All scales up over the next few months, we will be launching a program that will help link vital new business ventures with technical and other support. As a community, we can work together to leverage these visionary projects so that those that need work the most will both be prepared for and have access to dignified, ecologically-sound jobs.

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