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Breaking the Grip of the Fossil Fuel Economy

Yes! Magazine
Laura Flanders

Journalist Laura Flanders tours Appalachia to cover the evolving physical and economic landscape. Clusters of communities struggling to fill voids left by a migrating coal industry are finding solace in local initiatives and innovative thinking, by the likes of West Virginia organic farmer and BALLE Fellow alumnus Anthony Flaccavento, to preserve place and community while finding a solid, locally-controlled economic foundation.

Read the story at Yes! Magazine

Image of Benham, KY, Post Office by Flickr Creative Commons user universalpops

Lowcountry Local First launches co-working space at 1600 Meeting

Charleston City Paper
Ashley Sprouse

Local Works, the local-based coworking space by Lowcountry Local First (under the leadership of BALLE Fellow Jamee Haley) has opened its doors. Developed and built by local companies and including climate responsive design elements like a green roof, Local Works reaches out to Charleston's small businesses with a comfortable colalboration space.

Read the full story at the Charleston City Paper

Why Samuel Adams Supports Its Competitors

Leigh Buchanan

Jim Koch is chairman of Boston Beer, a pioneer of the craft-beer movement and brewer of Samuel Adams. The business, which Koch founded in 1984, had $739 million in revenue last year. Since 2008, Boston Beer has given out more than $3 million in microloans to craft brewers and other small businesses in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries. As Koch explains to Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan, supporting competitors can sometimes make sense.

The reason I support competitors becomes obvious if you think about the way yeast ferments beer. If enough yeast are working together, they can change the ecosystem for the mutual benefit of all. If they aren't, other organisms take over, and the yeast will fail. Craft brewing is kind of like that....

Amazon’s loathsome tax scheme: How behemoths defeat Main Street — and how we can stop them

Kathleen Sharp

Salon visits at length with Localists at the BALLE 2014 conference, including Fellow Kimber Lanning, ED of Local First AZ. The article ties together the growing grassroots movement with new governmental efforts to rein in runaway online companies. In many ways, Arizona is ground zero for this fight, and Localists seem to be coming out on top.

Continue reading at Salon

Detroit Program Turns Underutilized Spaces Into Incubation Kitchens

David Sands

Finding a place to prepare one’s product is a challenge faced by many food startups.  In the Motor City, A nonprofit program called Detroit Kitchen Connect is solving that problem by linking up local food businesses with underutilized neighborhood kitchen spaces.

“Folks who are interested in food entrepreneurship, novices opening their small food businesses, they need placement spaces where they can create product in a commercially-licensed facility,” Director Devita Davison tells Seedstock.

“So Detroit Kitchen Connect answers that demand for these small micro-processing facilities for entrepreneurs to grow, to scale and start to make it as a food business....”

Continue reading at Seedstock

Investing in local businesses a new growing trend (VIDEO)

Al Jazeera America
Al Jazeera America

Spurred on by tighter restrictions for loans, some companies are turning to their neighbors for financial support

Al Jazeera America's Real Money with Ali Velshi visited rural California, where neighbors are supporting each other's businesses.

"I think we're looking at risk incorrectly," says local investor Sallie Calhoun, "when we say that it is less risky to hand our money to Wall Street, than to invest it in the community and the people we know."

Don Shaffer, CEO of RSF Social Finance, in San Francisco, points out that this movement is emerging in towns across the United States.

Oakland-based Cutting Edge Captial helps small businesses with Direct Public Offerings (DPOs), allowing small investments into local businesses.

AJAM also interviewed Leslie Christian, Seattle-based Financial advisor and RSF Social Finance investor.

"Local investing is an invitation to be involved in beneficial and essential goods and services, which leads us to what we might consider to be the real economy. Those are the areas where we see the most activity [in community investment]."

Watch from the source at Al Jazeera America. Bear with AJAM's archive format, which breaks its Television feed into minute-long segments.

At Zingerman’s, Pastrami and Partnership to Go

The New York Times
Jennifer Conlin

It was a typical Wednesday morning at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich., that offers nine varieties of macaroni and cheese and smokes its own hogs for pulled pork. But on this particular morning, in a colorful back dining room, finance was on the menu.

Gathered for their weekly huddle at various booths and tables were roughly 50 restaurant staff members, all studying a large whiteboard filled with handwritten numbers. Alex Young, a James Beard Award-winning chef who has run the restaurant since it opened in 2003, noted one figure in particular: $165,256, the previous week’s sales...

Continue reading at the New York Times

Bringing the BALLE Conference Home

"We all care about one thing and that’s equity. Equity so that we can all prosper together.” - Saru Jayaraman, ROC-United

THANK YOU to everyone who joined us for the 12th Annual BALLE Conference in our hometown of Oakland, California. Our co-host the East Bay Sustainable Business Alliance under the leadership of BALLE Fellow, Erin Kilmer-Neel brought out the best of Oakland and was an amazing partner. We extend special gratitude to all the artists and leaders who delivered world-class insights, our home-grown vendors who took such good care of us, our sponsors who made it all possible, and especially the attendees who breathed life into what we’ve heard called the best BALLE Conference to date!

Even if you didn't join us in Oakland, you, and the important contributions you make to the Localist Movement, were with us in spirit. Because of that, we wanted to share with you some of the highlights from the conference.

Conference Highlights

Check out our blog for highlights from each day of the conference and the best of the social media buzz (Instagram and Twitter) that swirled around it. And see the vibrant faces from across the globe who joined us for three magnificent days in our wrap-up video and photo slideshow:

Some quotes we've received from conference goers so far:

“I realized that this movement is further entering the mainstream, and that we are getting more organized with our goals and messaging. We're growing up!
“I am becoming more and more encouraged by the power of collaboration. The vision I have for communities everywhere is to see a stronger support network for small sustainable farmers.”
“I have participated in a lot of conferences and this was like no other! So many like-minded people under one roof who sincerely want to contribute to finding a solution for our communities’ economies. Simply awesome.”
“The conference reminded me that all is possible and that love and compassion are the foundational tools for what we are called to do.”

BALLE in the News

As the BALLE team was getting ready to welcome attendees, the Wall Street Journal published an incredible story about local investment featuring many of our colleagues and partners including Local Economy Funders Circle member Sallie Calhoun, Jenny Kassan of Cutting Edge Capital, Stacy Mitchell from the Institute of Local Self Reliance, and Localist expert Michael Shuman – all leaders at the conference.

And here are some of the articles and blogs that have been published about the conference so far:

Bookmark the BALLE Newsroom for coverage of the 2014 Conference and the broader Localist Movement.

Prosperity For All Scholarships

This year, we awarded over 140 scholarships to Localist leaders from the Bay Area and beyond; a new record for us. Prosperity for All scholarship recipients represent the diversity of the communities they work in. They are small business owners and entrepreneurs, urban farmers, non-profit leaders and community development professionals. Well over half of this year's recipients serve underrepresented communities as a major focus of their work, and just as many represent women-led organizations and organizations led by people of color. And this wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donations we received. Will you help us offer even more scholarships to next year’s conference? Make your donation here: http://bealocalist/org/donate.

Save the Dates!

Did you know that Phoenix, Arizona, is one of the best cities to start a business? BALLE Fellow and board member Kimber Lanning presented this and several other compelling stats at the closing session where Phoenix was announced as the location for the 2015 conference. So mark your calendars and we’ll see you June 10-12, 2015, in Phoenix!

All Together: Awakening the Heart of the Entrepreneur

During the Leadership for a New Economy sessions at the conference, we heard from entrepreneurs and investors who have designed their businesses from compassion and service. They recognize that our era calls for great numbers of entrepreneurial leaders in every community committed to transforming business to maximize well-being for all. This conversation is too rich and important to happen once a year, so we’re initiating an event series (PDF) and a well-being in business portal to share news and keep the growing community of compassionate entrepreneurs connected and moving forward.

Starting this fall, we will be partnering with East Bay Sustainable Business Alliance, Greater Good Science Center, Service Space, Impact Hub Oakland, and the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation for live events, conference calls, and an online portal to share news, stories and insights. If you’d like to learn more or join in, send an email to

We're Hiring!

BALLE is looking for talented Localists to join our team of changemakers. Visit our careers page to learn more about the positions for Director of Fellowship, Program and Systems Manager, Marketing and Communications Manager, and Administrative Assistant/Scheduler, and please help us spread to word!

And, if you haven’t yet joined BALLE as a member, please do for regular connection into this national learning community as we all move forward together to build real prosperity for all.

Thank You to our incredible 2014 Conference sponsors.

We couldn't have done it without you!


Vend Sponsor Logo Vend Sponsor Logo

In-Kind Sponsors

Foundation Partners


Inspiration…Compliments of BALLE

Re>Think Local
Doreen Johnson

Compassion. It’s not a word I routinely used in the same sentence as business, but I will now. I attended my first BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies – the fastest-growing network of sustainable and value-based enterprises in North America) conference last week in Oakland, CA, the week before I officially started as Executive Director for Re>Think Local. For me, one of the highlights of the conference was the conversation about the “compassion revolution.” The idea is that greed, narcissism, and maximizing self-interests are no longer viable models for humankind or business. Replacing it is the belief and scientific theory that show that building community adds to our happiness, that kindness, sharing and generosity are contagious and give us the greatest rewards.

On the first day of the conference I went on a tour called Oakland Urban Food Justice: Systems, Security, Access. Oakland has the most vibrant food justice landscape in the nation, including urban farms, cooperatively owned markets, publicly funded grocery stores, and pioneering policy on food production and food access. We heard from activists, teachers and policymakers and saw how the work around food justice has taken shape in Oakland. I saw real change happening when communities work together to change the way race, privilege and class spread through our food systems.

Continue reading at Re>Think Local

Do you believe in the triumph of truth, justice, and localism?

Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Charlotte Ashlock

Last week, I attended BALLE’s conference on the growing Localist Movement. Localists shop at Main Street stores and farmer’s markets instead of Wall Street’s big box stores and malls. But the movement is much more than a preference for high-quality, artisan products; localists passionately believe that keeping our money local will liberate us from the vicissitudes and injustice of a globalized economy.

Conference organizers called for us “to create a new economy with a living and breathing heart of justice at its center...Prosperity for All." Before BALLE, I’d thought the localist movement was something for the high-end consumer… but the conference showed me the movement had expanded to include race, class, and justice issues....

Continue reading at Berrett-Koehler Publishers