Four Ways the Local Food Movement Is Transforming Race Relations in America

Ro Kumar

At the heart of the reason why our multicultural society remains segmented is our lack of familiarity with each other. For example, the different ethnic groups in my neighborhood share very little in common as far as cuisine or native language. Naturally, they are unfamiliar with each other’s cultures. Each family tends to associate with others from their same ethnic group. The lack of familiarity among different groups leads to separateness, which can lead to stereotyping. In comparison, communities where members are more familiar with each other tend to have more of the mingling and interaction that makes neighborhoods vibrant and wonderful. 

To my own amazement, I have observed how the growth of the local food movement is helping to change race relations for the better. As awareness about the dangerous chemical methods used to farm conventionally grown food spreads, demand for local organic food is spreading across color lines. The simple act of eating differently is radically changing race relations as diverse communities interact in newly forming local food economies.


BALLE Buzz: 2013 Top 5 and Sneak Peek

  January 2013

Happy New Year Localists!

2012 was a pivotal year for the Localist movement, with success stories and innovations piling up faster than ever before. We think that 2013 is going to be even better. If you’re wondering how BALLE fits into your work in the coming year, here are some simple ways to connect and engage with us!

The Top Five Ways to Build a Localist Economy in 2013

(1) Think Local Procurement First


Whether it's subscribing to our blogs or attending our webinars, you can learn more about Buy Local campaigns and why consumer education is still an essential tool in the Localist workbench. But bringing the Localist movement to scale requires setting our sights on some of the biggest consumers out there: governments and anchor institutions. Dig in with us to explore how to make procurement work for you. Engage with Us.

(2) Measure What Matters
Connect and learn with us: In 2013 BALLE is embarking on the next phase of a comprehensive measuring and evaluation program to clearly demonstrate the many benefits of Localism: More jobs, more wealth, more equality, and many previously unquantified benefits of a healthy economy. Engage with Us.

(3) Share Localist Resources with your Community
BALLE is the nexus of activity in the Localist community, and there is no better way to catalyze activity in your community than to take full advantage of BALLE’s many offerings. Get your community connected with the best practices, best examples, best tools, and best stories the Localist community has to offer. Engage with Us.

(4) Share Your Stories With Us
There are no one-way streets in the new economy, and in order for BALLE to continue to offer the best solutions from around the world, we need to hear from you about how go-getters in your community are laying the foundations for a new economy. Engage with Us.

(5) Unleash Financial Capital in Your Local Economy
In the interest of helping communities across the continent find local financial resources to build enduring local wealth, BALLE has developed numerous community capital programs focused on local investment. Engage with Us.

(6 – Bonus!) Come to the 2013 BALLE Conference!

2013 BALLE Conference

balle_savethedateOur annual Conference is simply the best opportunity for you to work with a superb, high-caliber community to advance Localist economic transformation in your home place, build deep relationships that will inspire and recharge your own work, and go to lots of great parties in the process.

Whether you are an international thought leader, on-the-ground social entrepreneur, business leader, policymaker, network builder, funder, philanthropist, or Localist of any other persuasion, this is the can’t-miss event of the year for you. No matter your industry or interest, you’ll be tapping into a synergy in localism that is unparalleled. This is the place where even dots come to be connected!

The BALLE Business Conference immerses you directly in a community of the best people, resources and ideas to unleash real prosperity.  Join more than 600 of the world’s leading Localists to:


  • Work together to share innovative business practices;

  • Devise effective strategies for community engagement and public policy;

  • Experience the cutting-edge in creative community capital, finance, and funding;

  • Network with the Localist movement’s founders and visionaries;

  • Learn about creative Localist innovations in the worlds of manufacturing, retail, ownership structures, economic justice, technology, and more;

  • Take your own work to the next level by receiving direct mentorship from social entrepreneurs, engaging in peer networking, and taking eye-opening tours of Buffalo’s resurgent Localist success stories.

Selection of confirmed speakers:

TEMP Janine-Benyus-Bioneers-2008
Janine Benyus – Author, Biologist, Founder of the The Biomimicry Institute

Nikki Henderson
Nikki Henderson – Executive Director, People’s Grocery  – Oakland, CA

Mike Pearson – President and CEO of Union Packaging – Philadelphia, PA

TEMP mark-brand-token
Mark Brand – Owner, Save On Meats  – Vancouver, BC

Judy Wicks - Board
Judy Wicks – Founder of the White Dog Café, Author of Good Morning, Beautiful Business

TEMP Aaron Bartley
Aaron Bartley – Executive Director, PUSH Buffalo – Buffalo, NY

Learn more! | Register now for Early Bird Rates!

BALLE Live! Webinar Series


February Webinars

  • TimCrosbyCommunity Capital: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 : 10:00am PT : The Farmer Reserve Fund Model: Business Microloans that Leverage Credit Union & Community Partner Capacity with Tim Crosby [link], Director, Slow Money NW. Pop quiz: What do you do if you have local farmers who need capital but don’t qualify for conventional lending, and a financial institution that wants to lend to community farms, but can’t afford the risk?...
    Read More | Register Now*
  • Ted HowardLocal First: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 : 10:00am PT : Local First Grows Up: An In Depth How-To on Funding and Accelerating Local Procurement with Ted Howard, Executive Director, The Democracy Collaborative. In case you haven’t noticed, BALLE is big on local procurement. Buy Local campaigns and consumer education are still essential tools in the Localist workbench, but bringing the Localist movement to scale requires...
    Read More | Register Now*
Can't attend? Don't worry, register and we’ll send you the link to the webinar recording and materials to view on your own time.

*Register for three or more webinars in any of our series and receive 20% off your total registration! For more information about pricing see our Member Benefits.

You can expect the Buzz to land in your mailbox the first week of each month. BALLE members should send 50-word submissions by the 15th of each month for inclusion in the next edition. We will do our best to include your item in the newsletter and/or on our website.

Our social media channels are humming with Localist action. Be sure to follow us on Facebook so that you don’t miss a beat. Remember that we’ve moved to /BeALocalist so like us there!

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©2012 Copyright BALLE


Resilience Is About Relationships, Not Just Infrastructure

The Atlantic
Sarah Goodyear

After Superstorm Sandy, neighborhood networks [...] were activated quickly around the five boroughs. Community-based groups such as Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn (where I volunteered after the storm), which already had deep roots in the area, were able to call on existing relationships and get help where it was needed, even as government and national relief organizations were falling short.

What’s more, in places where different social groups had robust internal connections but didn’t really interact with each other, storm survival and recovery provided a framework for building new alliances. They haven’t always been seamless or comfortable, but they have been happening.

It happened in Red Hook, where residents of the public housing projects found themselves working alongside business owners from the gentrified streets nearby. It happened in the often fractious Rockaways, where surfers and firefighters and everyone else has pitched in to clean the streets and rip moldy sheetrock from homes, despite past resentments and divisions. For the most part, strength has built on strength.


The Crowdfunding Crowd Is Anxious

New York Times
Amy Cortese

To its advocates, crowdfunding is a way for capital-starved entrepreneurs to receive financing that neither big investors nor lenders are willing or able to provide. To others, it represents a potential minefield that could help bad businesses get off the ground before they eventually fail, and in some cases could even ensnare unsophisticated investors in outright fraud.

Those fears are partly why the Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed rules allowing crowdfunding that were supposed to take effect this month as part of the JOBS Act (Jump-Start Our Business Start-Ups), signed by President Obama last April. The S.E.C. is wary of loosening investor protections that have been in place since the 1930s.

Despite the uncertainty, the outlines of a new industry are emerging as a few crowdfunding start-ups have found ways to raise money within current rules. They include companies like CircleUp and SoMoLend, which lends money to small, Main Street-type businesses that typically wouldn’t interest private investors.


10 Ways to Resolve to Take Local Action in 2013

Prospera Partners
Vicki Pozzebon

In these days of great change (you know you felt it too in the waning days of December) we must take action, in our own lives, our work, in the world, in whatever we do. If you don’t, who’s going to do it for you?  You never know where the idea will come from to start over, start new, restart.

Take action. Be the Change. Insert whatever mantra you need to get yourself motivated to make the world a better place for all of us. I’m a Localist. Localists take action. See if you can be one, too, with a couple simple changes in your life, in your community, in your work, in your business, in the places you visit:


News Beautiful Relationships: How Five Local Enterprises Thrive Together

The Tyee
Luke Brocki

The setting is a warehouse in an industrial park in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond. We're surrounded by big burlap sacks of green coffee beans, stacked several pallets high. The air warms up and sweetens as we approach the roaring roaster. Now and then a circular cooling tray spits hot brown beans into buckets while the machine's young operators consult nearby computer screens. My tour guide is Salt Spring Coffee president and CEO Mickey McLeod. He's wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a dark grey sweater over a blue shirt. His upper lip is hidden by a bushy Movember handlebar moustache. He says his company's sales were up 12 per cent to some $9 million last fiscal year. And that it couldn't have happened without nurturing local business connections.

McLeod is hardly the first to plant his flag in the "go local" camp. In recent years, I've heard this mantra from entrepreneurs and investors, consumers and politicians, not-for-profits and academics. Supporting local businesses is a good way to kick-start innovative and resilient local economies, the story goes. Advocates insist localism creates jobs and piles up tax dollars, builds communities and protects the environment. It could even -- no big deal or anything -- lay the groundwork for world peace. And here I am still buying Christmas presents at Wal-Mart like a jerk.

"All of this sounds great, but..."

"Does the do-gooder part actually make business sense?" McLeod interrupts, sensing my skepticism.

"Exactly," I say as we move away from the heat and noise of the roaster.

"At the end of the day, you're building a family. And when you have a family, they're gonna help you," he says. "It's about keeping as much of the economy as we can here."


The Business Case for Saying No to National Chains

The Atlantic
Sarah Goodyear

The new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, home to the borough’s first major sports franchise since the Dodgers left town, is settling into its groove after opening for business a couple of months ago.

Opponents of the bitterly contested arena still have their complaints about traffic, public drunkenness and urination, and unkept promises of affordable housing and local jobs (you can find a comprehensive, ongoing archive of the case against Barclays at Norman Oder’s Atlantic Yards Report). But Brooklyn Nets T-shirts and caps have become ubiquitous in the borough, and a series of high-profile shows – Jay-Z, Barbra Streisand, Neil Young, Rihanna – have drawn tens of thousands of music fans to Barclays already. For better or worse, the arena has arrived.

In the “better” column you can count the food concessions. This is the rare arena that has rejected chain franchises in favor of local institutions, drawn from the rich food culture around the borough. Here, you can get barbecue from Williamsburg’s Fatty ’Cue; Cuban sandwiches from Fort Greene’s Habana Outpost; pizza from Gravesend’s Spumoni Gardens; and, in an inspired old-school-new-school mashup, a confection called a concrete that combines Junior’s black-and-white cookies with ice cream from Blue Marble.

Not all the food is to die for, but it’s for the most part a damn sight better than the stuff you get at your average sporting event. And it’s good to know that one of your local butchers (Paisano’s, in my case) has landed a contract that probably is a significant help to their bottom line. It makes eating at the game or the show a much more pleasant experience. If the locally sourced food arrangement works in the long run, it could be a model for arenas around the country, de-homogenizing the slickly packaged experience of sports and concerts and helping to diversify the income stream for neighborhood businesses.


Expert on community building wins a top fellowship

The Villager
Sam Spokony

The chief and founder of a Tribeca-based business venture focused on sparking development in underserved communities — and, currently, in the Two Bridges neighborhood — has earned an impressive new notch in his belt.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE, an international nonprofit, announced last week that James Johnson-Piett, principal and C.E.O. of Urbane Development, was one of 16 professionals chosen for its 2013-14 Local Economy Fellowship.

The fellowship is the only one of its kind in North America — including representatives from both the U.S. and Canada — and comprises an 18-month leadership immersion program that allows fellows to share ideas and build networks, while also strengthening their capacity to change their own communities.

“It’s a really great honor, and it’s exciting to be part of this interesting local development movement that’s burgeoning right now,” said Johnson-Piett, 33, who, unlike most of the other BALLE fellows, has already seen his share of nationwide action.


Leader of small-business network heads to new challenge

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Diane Mastrull

Sustainable business is still a term many Philadelphians likely would struggle to define accurately. But it is a far more familiar concept than it was eight years go.

Iola Harper credits Leanne Krueger-Braneky for that.

Krueger-Braneky has been the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia's only executive director, advocating since 2004 for small businesses that value social and environmental impact as well as profit.

"She is the mouthpiece . . . for this movement," said Harper, a marketing consultant and cochair of SBN's board of directors. The question now is whether SBN can find a new leader to sustain that voice.

Krueger-Braneky has announced her intention to leave at January's end the nonprofit she was hired to run when she was 27 years old and it was just two.

Though she will continue to live in Philadelphia, she will be working for a national organization of which SBN is a founding member - the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE - as director of fellowship and alumni. Her work will involve convening those who are organizing businesses toward collective economic impact in communities.

"I'm really hungry to have an impact on the national level," Krueger-Braneky said last week.


Dean named BALLE Local Economy Fellow

Hawaii 24/7
Hawaii 24/7

Andrea Dean, of North Kohala, has been selected as a 2013 BALLE Local Economy Fellow.

Dean is known for her projects focused on local food and economy such as: Think Local, Buy Local — a public education initiative to support the local economy; Hooulu ka Ulu — a project to revitalize breadfruit for food security in Hawaii; Hawaii Alliance for a Local Economy (HALE), a local chapter of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) focused on growing the local, green economy; North Kohala Eat Locally Grown Campaign — public education, community capacity building and market expansion initiatives; Growing a Local Food System in North Kohala — community-based strategic planning; Community Harvest Hawaii — food harvesting, preparation and distribution; EBT (SNAP) at the Hawi Farmers Market — increasing access to locally grown foods for low income families.