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Judy Wicks Visits Mullumbimby

Judy Wicks  Visits  Mullumbimby

Judy Wicks Co-founder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in the US and international pioneer of sustainable business, gave a talk and workshop in Mullumbimby on Tuesday 27th May.

Judy spoke about her experiences in Philadelphia where she has established a small business network (BALLE) that encourages the production and use of local products and services.

Judy spoke about the importance of building a sustainable local economy. ‘You can’t just have one sustainable business in a community; you need a whole network of sustainable businesses that support each other”. The BALLE network offers a platform for local businesses to share information, promote local products and services and assists with building a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable local economy.

Judy founded the legendary Black Dog Café in Philadelphia which has become a fine example of a business that supports other local businesses and is making a positive impact on the local community. “Black dog café sources 100% of its power from renewable energy (wind) and purchases its products from local or regional producers and suppliers, Judy proudly announced, “and all our meat and dairy products are sourced from local organic farmers”

Buying local products not only supports the local economy it is also supporting the environment. Food that has to be transported long distances has a much greater carbon print than food sourced from local producers.
In this new era of environmental awareness growing numbers of consumers are going to ask - Where has this product been made, and is there a local or regional alternative?

Investing in and supporting local businesses contributes to the long term sustainability of the region. Local businesses are more likely to invest in and support the local community than those businesses that are based elsewhere, such as a fast food chain store.

When asked about boycotting  big business, Judy replied, "I don't support putting out negative energy. Rather, it is better to protect the community against large box stores and big business by  creating an "OurBox" or "CommunityWorth to fulfill our needs. So the idea is to get a local entrepreneur/s to expand their business or somehow create an alternative to the chainstore. There are instances where a chain store goes into a community and fails, no one goes there, because the community does not really need it. Educate the consumers to buy local. We need more young people who are entrepreneurs to start businesses that fullfill community needs. " Judy said.

Judy continued, "We are re-inventing growth. Rather than an entrepreneur creating a "cookie-cutter" model by starting up businesses in someone else's community, we ask ,'What does my community need to be self-reliant?' One of our best examples of this in the BALLE community is, 'Zingerman's Deli', which is a famous Deli in Michigan. Instead of creating a chain of Deli's, they looked at what their community needed. Their community didn't have a bakery or a dairy, so they started a bakery and a dairy.(yoghurt ice-cream etc)."

"The most important thing is to support entrepreneurship. I  find one of the charges here is that so many citizens have the fear of  and a distain for business."said Judy. "But we are never going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude. We need to realise that business can be beautiful, and support people to start their local businesses. So this is about creating a positive alternative, rather than protesting or  picketing etc."

Judy suggested the establishment of a directory of local businesses and tradespeople who buy and sell local products and services.


by Jeff Johnson and Robert Hart

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