Latest Entries »

Disconcerting Drought


Interested in helping a social entrepreneurship start up? This week we’re thinking about how we could create our project through social entrepreneurship. There was an article about what some people are doing in the NYT: Getting Started As A Social Entrepreneur

Our social entrepreneurship job creation strategy is targeted towards the Tucson region’s low skilled, marginally employed community that faces immediate concerns regarding food security, access to food, diet related health crises, and community sustainability. Areas of Tucson are some of the worst afflicted places in the nation with regards to child food insecurity and significant levels of poverty. The limited capacity of the poor to purchase enough healthy foods and gain access to employment is clearly affecting their food security and vulnerability to outright hunger.

This strategy focuses on food and jobs with the rationale that significant increases in local food production will result in economic activity that results in job creation and entrepreneurship. One goal is the creation of a social enterprise that aligns the efforts of a partnership of community-based organizations.

This community based job creation enterprise will initially conduct research, create asset maps and participate in community vision meetings to identify resource requirements and conduct economic analysis to provide intelligence and data to the partnership. For example, the Tucson Community Food Bank has a pressing need to understand the elements of a food economy in specific locations in the region. Imagine Greater Tucson seeks community input regarding the types of economic activity and jobs that could potentially be created or targeted to enhance community sustainability. The Community Foundation For Southern Arizona is currently funding urban agriculture and food projects that seek knowledge and methodology for scaling up current efforts to meet the growing needs of the community and create economic opportunities resulting in job creation, entrepreneurship and community development.

Bill Clinton wrote this job creation idea about funding in Newsweek:


“If you start a business tomorrow, I can give you all the tax credits in the world, but since you haven’t made a nickel yet, they’re of no use to you. President Obama came in with a really good energy policy, including an idea to provide both a tax credit for new green jobs and for startup companies, to allow the conversion of the tax credit into its cash equivalent for every employee hired. Then last December, in the tax-cut compromise, the Republicans in Congress wouldn’t agree to extend this benefit because they said, “This is a spending program, not a tax cut. We’re only for tax cuts.” It was a mistake. The cash incentive worked. On the day President Obama took office, the U.S. had less than 2 percent of the world market in manufacturing the high-powered batteries for hybrid or all-electric cars. On the day of the congressional elections in 2010, thanks in large part to the cash-incentive policy, we had 20 percent of global capacity, with 30 new battery plants built or under construction, 16 of them in Michigan, which had America’s second-highest unemployment rate. We have to convince the Republican Congress that this is a good thing. If this incentive structure can be maintained, it’s estimated that by 2015 we’ll have 40 percent of the world’s capacity for these batteries. We could get lots of manufacturing jobs in the same way. I could write about this until the cows come home.”

So could I Mr. President.

Great stories on how to create jobs HERE

Here is a link to an important new article in the Atlantic about the importance of agriculture by local author Gary Paul Nabhan. He’s Co-Founder of Sabores Sin Fronteras and a research scientist with the Southwest Center.

Farming in the time of climate catastrophe.

Official Trailer for The Economics of Happiness film from The Economics of Happiness on Vimeo.

Recently, Marilyn Robinson joined TEDxTucson as a curator. Here is a short piece she wrote on the importance of the local food movement to our community.

I was very sad to hear that Stout’s Cider Mill in Willcox, Arizona is going out of business. I shall miss it and my visits to buy their wonderful pies made with the apples they have grown for twenty-five years.  Mr. Stout wrote in a final letter to the public that, “…we dismissed all employees and turned off the ovens in the bakery at the close of business on March 29.” This family business employed orchard workers, bakers, apple pickers, cider press operators, bottlers, etc. and they offered the public family fun and apple picking recreation.

Where will they and their employees go? When I go to a farmer’s market I think as I choose my fruits and vegetables, of sustenance for myself and my family and of  my responsibility to support  small family farmers who still believe in the good earth and  what they can coax from it in this desert environment. But is a farmer’s market even sustainable without people like Ron and Corinne Stout?

I have only recently come to appreciate what the terms “locavore”, one who consumes what is produced locally, and “local food movement,” purchasing more locally grown food, mean in the context of community sustainability and me being the change I want to see in my world.

The theme TEDx  Tucson has chosen for its salons in 2011-2012 is about community sustainability and will engage us in a dialogue about how local food can lead to local jobs and make Tucson and southern Arizona a better place for nurturing all of us. The TED salon idea is important for Tucson because it starts the conversations about possibilities and will introduce us to new ideas and the people who have ideas and want to share them. It’s about the ideas and not about agendas, about collaboration and inspiration. Most importantly it’s about the questions that will be raised that have not been considered. What is a food system? What is our agriculture ecology? How does agriculture it fit into our bio-tech emphasis we are pursuing? What jobs can be generated in the name of food sustainability? What impact will energy, transportation, education and water policies have on food sustainability in our region? What kinds of leaders have a community sustainability vision regarding these policies? These are questions that I have and that TEDx Tucson can help us all to consider in order to come up with answers that we are hungry for.  Food sustainability is food for thought.

Tonight’s The Night

Its April 19 and we’re celebrating the Spring full moon with our first TEDxTucsonSalon. This past weekend we were at our friends Jenn and Aaron’s wedding on their farm in Reddington Pass which is nestled in an amazingly lush watershed. I met Michael Carmody who was visiting for the festivities and was so inspired by what he saw that he has set his intention to become an organic farmer. Michael is really the first member of our local jobs movement, and we’ll keep in touch with him as he sets out to become a caretaker of his parents land in Wisconsin.

I put together this short video to document his intention and help him to begin to tell his story.

At the end of our TEDxTucson event, absolutely everyone in the theatre stood and stated “I am a green entrepreneur!” It was an inspiring moment. Many people approached me and asked what they could do next, which illustrates how powerful the whole concept of TEDx can be. Our theme was sustainability and “Innovating Our Green Economy”. So as we turned our attention to 2011 and what to do next, I was looking for a way to create a project between events to capture the enthusiasm and interest TEDxTucson had generated and make a real difference in our community. Why not take the concept of the local foods movement and all of the changes in behavior and awareness that has created and apply it to creating jobs?

“The Local Jobs Movement” is a project to grow the local food movement in Tucson and create entrepreneurial opportunities for people interested in urban agriculture. Our first TEDxTucsonSalon event on April 19 is all about local food issues, and the talks presented will increase awareness of some of the amazing work local innovators are doing to change our community’s access to healthy locally produced food. We’ll also be showing Jamie Oliver’s TED talk, and Carolyn Steel’s talk “How Food Shapes Our Cities”. Our intention is to inspire people to help us grow the local food movement and increase interest in supporting urban agriculture projects. This in turn will increase opportunities for entrepreneurship. Since I posted the announcement on the TED site a week ago I have had many people contact me offering to help grow our activities.

In addition to a host of TEDx volunteers, The Local Jobs Movement now includes our partners: the International Sonoran Desert Alliance; The Pimavera Foundation; The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona; and the Tucson Community Food Bank all of whom are very excited to be part of TEDxTucson. We will soon be applying for grant funding to increase urban agricultural activity and create jobs in South Tucson, which has the highest poverty rates in the nation and is in serious need of inspiration and transformation. Many of the social and health issues for the people living here are related to diet and the lack of availability of fresh local foods. Our intention is to leverage the excitement and inspiration TEDx generates to create real, measurable and meaningful community transformation by growing food and growing jobs.

To learn more please visit our event page and click attend if you want to join us.

Rainwater harvesting culvert

Well I am back in town after an amazing experience at TEDActive. Many people I spoke with loved the local jobs movement idea and so we’re back at it this week with a meeting with the Ajo Regional Food Partnership.

This blog is intended to tell the story as we create a movement to create jobs. The idea emerged from our work here in creating TEDxTucson and wanting to have a project that people could work on that contributes to Tucson’s sustainability. We’re working with people like James MacAdam who works helping people learn about rainwater harvesting and urban permaculture.

As I describe the idea of linking nurturing a local foods movement with job creation I can see people get the idea right away. In fact my new friends in Ajo are combating a “food desert” and the concomitant health issues that go with it. So they are working to create a sustainable local food system, new community awareness in making healthy food choices, restoring their rich cultural foods heritage and developing new food-based economic opportunities for community residents.


This is all being organized by the International Sonoran Desert Alliance and I’ll keep you posted as we link up.

Its not as easy to get this going in Tucson but these young entrepreneurs inspire me.   New farmers thrive in Oregon