Michael Shuman: The Little Grocery That Could…


From  MICHAEL SHUMAN
BALLE

[Author Michael Shuman, Local Dollars, Local Sense, is well-known here in Mendo. He was here most recently giving an all-day seminar, and gave two wonderful presentations about local business during our successful fight to stop the Masonite Monster Mall. Entrepreneur Jason Brown, Your Local Market in Bellevue, Washington, is a dear friend. -DS]

What happens next in the economy – the nation’s, the state’s, and Seattle’s – no longer lies in the hands of Capitol Hill politicians, the Federal Reserve, or even the boards of companies like Microsoft and Starbucks.  It depends on entrepreneurs like Jason Brown, who has big ambitions for his small business.  Jason recently opened a grocery store in the heart of downtown Bellevue called Your Local Market. It combines the best features of Whole Foods, like high-quality local and organic products, with down-to-earth prices and familiar brands of low cost cleaning products.

Jason, however, is not your typical small businessperson. For more than three decades he has been an innovator in retailing. He brought Columbia Sportswears to New Zealand and Australia.  He created the Natural Apothecary, which was sold to Wild Oats, and then went on to develop Andrew Weil Vitamin Advisor.  He grew a bi-coastal company called Organic To Go, which at its peak made healthy options available in 33 cafes and 150 outlets.

Today, Jason is all about “local.” He and his team have scoured the Pacific Northwest for great suppliers of local fruits, meats, and wines

Gimme some of that Seth Godin would ya?…


From SETH GODIN

[For the small-time marketer, the non-profiter, the freelancer and the local small town entrepreneur… -DS]

The tyranny of low price

If you build your business around being the lowest-cost provider, that’s all you’ve got. Everything you do has to be a race in that direction, because if you veer toward anything else (service, workforce, impact, design, etc.) then a competitor with a more single-minded focus will sell your commodity cheaper than you.

Cheapest price is the refuge for the marketer with no ideas left or no guts to implement the ideas she has.

Everyone needs to sell at a fair price. But unless you’ve found a commodity that must remain a commodity, a fair price is not always the lowest price. Not when you understand that price is just one of the many tools available.

A short version of this riff: The low-price leader really doesn’t need someone with your skills.
~

“If I were you…”

But of course, you’re not.

And this is the most important component of strategic marketing: we’re not our customer.

Empathy isn’t dictated

James Lee: Local Money…


From JAMES LEE
Anderson Valley

‘Give me control of a nations money supply, and I care not who makes it’s laws’ ~ Amschel Rothchilds

It is critical to understand when, how and why the privately owned, for profit, corporate Fed Reserve and their crony banksters plan to eliminate the dollar and convert us all in one fell swoop to a digital currency.

Less than 7% of all transactions are cash. Merchants, big and small, are now switching to the new Paypal Iphone swiping technology that attaches to YOUR iphone, as they undercut the 3% fee charged by the major credit card companies, making the conversion to a digital currency seamless.

“PayPal today launched a new device, called PayPal Here, in the US, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, that consists of a free, triangle shaped card reader and mobile phone application. The gadget connects into the top of iPhones and iPads allowing merchants to take payments on the go from any any of the four major credit cards (including American Express), PayPal accounts and even checks!”
http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2012/03/15/paypal-introduces-credit-card-swiping-iphone-device/

Spain, Italy and Greece have enacted strict (less than $1500 Euro) customer withdrawals of cash

Todd Walton: Austerity


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“When we deeply understand that actions bring results, it can motivate us to take active responsibility for our actions and our lives.” Joseph Goldstein

Planting time: kale, lettuce, carrots, peas, beets, broccoli. Hearty potato plants rise from the ground and promise a good harvest of spuds in a month or so. Look! A hundred and eight beautiful garlic plants are nearing fruition after many months of growing. As I work in my little garden, I think about the lunatics running our state and national governments, advocates of what they call austerity (but what is actually senseless cruelty and greed), and I imagine a gang of these crazy people surveying my garden and proclaiming, “These seeds and plants aren’t producing anything we can eat right now. They need to be taught a lesson. They need to tighten their belts and pull themselves up by their own root straps. Stop watering them. Stop feeding them. Don’t give them anything until they learn to grow without any assistance from anyone.”

“But…” I try to argue, “…vegetables require time and nurturing to eventually…”

“No buts,” say the lunatics. “No time. No nurturing. Look at those redwood trees over there.

Drop the Money Bomb on Monsanto — Two Days Left…


Moneybomb Monsanto Meter

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Between May 1 and May 26, a broad coalition of food, farm, health, public interest, and environmental groups all over the country, joined by leading organic food companies, will attempt to raise one million dollars to support the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, a citizens’ ballot initiative, and other state GMO-labeling campaigns.

If we reach our goal by May 26, we’ll receive a matching $1 million gift!*

Passing this law in California is the first critical step toward requiring GMO labeling in every state.

We’re almost there.

Please join the thousands who have already donated to this historic campaign by donating online, by mail or by phone before midnight Saturday.

If we all pitch in to help California pass this historic law to require mandatory GMO labeling, it’s only a matter of time before all of us, in every state in the US, will finally be able to know if the food we buy contains genetically engineered ingredients.

Big Biotech and Big Food

Where will you be when the Frackers come for Mendo?…


From ELLEN CANTAROW
TomDispatch
Thanks to Meca Wawona

The Environmental Nightmare You Know Nothing About

If the world can be seen in a grain of sand, watch out. As Wisconsinites are learning, there’s money (and misery) in sand – and if you’ve got the right kind, an oil company may soon be at your doorstep.

March in Wisconsin used to mean snow on the ground, temperatures so cold that farmers worried about their cows freezing to death. But as I traveled around rural townships and villages in early March to interview people about frac-sand mining, a little-known cousin of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” daytime temperatures soared to nearly 80 degrees – bizarre weather that seemed to be sending a meteorological message.

In this troubling spring, Wisconsin’s prairies and farmland fanned out to undulating hills that cradled the land and its people. Within their embrace, the rackety calls of geese echoed from ice-free ponds, bald eagles wheeled in the sky, and deer leaped in the brush. And for the first time in my life, I heard the thrilling warble of sandhill cranes.

Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica.

Transition: Peak Money…


From SHAUN CHAMBERLIN
darkoptimism.org

[The Strongbow Bankers video below is priceless… -DS]

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” – Raymond Williams

Last month I was one of forty or so attendees of the Transition ‘Peak Money’ day. It was a great collection of people, from theorists to community activists, and an important opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing us all as the glaring errors at the heart of mainstream economics start to take their toll. This post is far more personal reflection than report, as Rob Hopkins has already done a great job on that front.

The key theme that seemed to run throughout the day was of ‘collapse’. Sadly, travel problems meant I was an hour late to the event, but the first sessions I witnessed were reports from Transitioners in Portugal, Ireland and Greece on the impacts of the economic problems there. The talk was of collapse having already happened for many there, with statistics quoted including an 89% increase in Greek unemployment in three years, and Irish suicides having doubled since 2007.

This part of the day pulled no punches. Most of us were left grey and shaken as the harsh reality on the frontlines of the crisis was relayed. For me, a defining memory of the day was watching alternative economists in attendance sitting listening to this – people who have spent decades warning of these outcomes and trying to head them off – their heads shaking sadly with lips pursed, hands involuntarily coming to their faces in dismay as their Cassandra curse unfolds. Of course, the statistics were not new to them, but hearing these stories in person

15 Thought-Provoking Discussion Questions Every Book Club Should Ask Themselves…


From JULIEANNE SMOLINSKI
jezebel.com

Book clubs can be a wonderful way for like-minded people to get together and share their love of literature. Maybe you’re long out of college and miss the academic pleasure of “talking out” a book, or maybe you’d like to get more insights than reading alone can provide. Or maybe you just want an excuse to drink wine and jabber with girlfriends.

Some people have suggested that book clubs are a silly, middle class diversion for the kinds of pretentious bourgie women who want to have high minded discussions about books you buy at an airport so you can read it “before you see the movie.” The ever-reliable Daily Mail has some pretty hairy horror stories about a dark underbelly of mutual trade-paperback enjoyment, one populated by “show offs, drunks, and fibbers.”

To keep your book club on task, and to avoid it devolving into some kind of sycophantic bacchanal of people who buy sweaters on GILT group, try using discussion topics. Many bestsellers come pre-equipped with reader’s guides and discussion questions just for book clubs.

Here are a few that can be adapted to your book club for its specific needs.

1. During the sex scenes in the book, did you picture the other people in the book group also having to read the sex scenes and feel sort of weird about it? Why do you think we have so much trouble acknowledging our friends as sexual beings?

2. Who here owns a TV? Why, or why not?

3. Several people have noted key differences in structure between

Gene Logsdon: Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees and Trees Don’t Grow On Money


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I was so gratified to see Wendell Berry’s remarks in a recent interview (“Wendell Berry: Landsman” with Jim Leach in Humanities magazine, May/June 2012) where he makes a point about economics that is overlooked in these days when divisiveness rules the political roost. The general view is that the economic battle is between capitalism and socialism, but as Wendell observes, “both are industrial systems and they have made the same mistakes in some ways.”  Both have ignored “the propriety of scale and the standard of ecological health.”

Yes, yes, yes. But I would like to go farther (probably too far) than Wendell did. Both capitalism and socialism are similar industrial systems basically because both accept and practice the industrial idea that the fundamental tool to “growing an economy” is the ability to borrow money at compound interest rates. I certainly would be foolish to deny the effectiveness, maybe the necessity, of being able to borrow money. We borrowed to buy our first house and car. But seeing how borrowed money nearly ruined people I knew when I was growing up, I was determined never to borrow again if I could avoid it and I never did. Repaying a loan over a long period of time often means buying the house or car twice and if one carries credit card debt all the time, to paying for stuff more than three times.

Somehow this kind of insanity has become sanctified in our society as if it were holy scripture. The phrase “free enterprise” is uttered by its high priests with all the fervor of a biblical evangelist uttering “the Lord Jesus Christ.”  I remember