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Kitchen Table Talks SF: Alternative Business Models

The world is still, after several long years, desperately trying to climb out of the financial abyss brought about during the latest global financial meltdown. Painful “austerity” measures, largely impacting working class people who already suffered the most during the crisis, are proffered by those responsible as the short-term economic fix to what ails nations around the world.

After roughly 150 years, and the countless day-to-day tribulations of billions of people, capitalism is being questioned like never before. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area’s counterculture spirit transforms economic models as well. New, locally minded businesses whose lifeblood includes notions antithetical to the dominant paradigm, including shared prosperity, enabling and/or giving to others, and creating community, are thriving.

Do they offer a more satisfying, rewarding, and ultimately more viable path for long-term success for society at large? On Wednesday, June 29, please join Kitchen Table Talks as we discuss the vision, mechanics, and spirit behind these “Alternative Business Models.” Read more

The Exceptional Nature of Cuban Urban Agriculture

Among the adherents of the food security movement in the United States, many idolize Cuba’s experience in building a vibrant urban farming sector. This idealization is due to the lack of information available on the Cuban system, as caused by the travel embargo and media blackout there. Compounding this situation is the vast difference between the Cuban and American political and economic systems.

Cuba’s accomplishments are undeniably astounding, inspiring and a testament to the country’s flexibility and pragmatism: 350,000 new well paying jobs (out of a total workforce of 5 million) created in urban agriculture nationally; 4 million tons of fruits and vegetables produced annually in Havana, up ten-fold in a decade; and a city of 2.2 million people regionally self-sufficient in produce. These accomplishments have been supported by an extensive network of input suppliers, technical assistance providers, researchers, teachers and government agencies.

Yet, Cuban urban agriculture, no matter how inspiring, is largely irrelevant to Americans. Read more

Models of Distributed Urban Agriculture

We are in the midst of a revolution in urban agriculture. In a growing number of cities, suburbs, and small towns, community groups and entrepreneurs have discovered innovative ways to harvest and grow food, using networks of relatively small plots of public and private land and shared resources, and in the process, forging novel relationships among producers and consumers.

While these innovations are based on historical precedents, from the radical Diggers movement of 17th century Britain, to sharecropping arrangements, the victory garden movements during the World Wars, and recent community supported agriculture systems, they are unique in that they apply social networking tools, mapping technologies, unusual land tenure arrangements, or novel business models to forage and farm cities and suburbs. Read more