Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We are now in our fifth month at Berenbaum's. The stand has been a great learning experience for me, and we have involved nearly fifteen volunteers in different aspects of the business.

Every business concept starts with an idea, and ours centered around a sliding-scale pricing model which has proved both profitable and viable. Because of its viability, this affords me the pleasure to brainstorm other, related ideas that could be connected to Berenbaum's. I'll call them "reflections".

New Urban Density

200,000 - 500,000 in 5-9 sq. miles.

Bike friendly: Today, we live in a society that I would call Golf Cart City. (cf. ASW) We use our extremely powerful cars like they were golf carts. Most of our driving is 20 miles or less. What if we developed our urban planning around a golf cart model, then took cars, by and large, out of the equation, and then used bikes instead of golf carts?

Key: Take out the consumerist part of society. So much of our stress today is, "I have to drive to X to buy Y, and then I have to drive to Z to buy gas to go back to X, and then I have to drive to work, school, etc." What if the town/city's density was such that all the places you had to go were in biking distance? What if we were more reliant upon deliveries for things?

Who would employ the people in such a society? The town could be established in conjunction with an intellectual/industrial/agricultural/technological site, where folks can catch a bus cutting through one of the few car-friendly avenues in town out to their workplace which is sited on a separate self-contained campus.

The Standardization of Human-Friendly Businesses

Corporations are legal entities recognized as a person under the law. As such, their goals are sometimes misaligned with the goals and needs of human society. McDonald's doesn't have your health at the top of its priority list. The top of the priority list is financial profit. This is not because McDonald's is fundamentally evil. It is because of the way it is legally structured as a corporation.

My idea is to create a business using standardized best business practices whose charter is to return its goods and profits directly to the community it serves. By keeping distribution and payments local, there is community buy-in. Also, the community becomes more self-sufficient and less reliant on investment from medium to large national corporations for development.

For example, I would like to start a bricks-and-mortar bakery. This bakery would standardize its production in keeping with the practices of larger businesses such that it could be easily replicated at other locations. The business would set a dollar goal for goods bartering with other small businesses of the same human-friendly persuasion (e.g. the town butcher, the candlestick maker). The bartered goods would go to the business' employees, and the remaining profits would be returned to the employees, after a set amount was set aside for capital development, reinvestment, and new projects.

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