Day One: Wednesday June 7, 2017

We hope you will join us for the entire Conference, but if you can only manage to get to one day, this is the one! When you go to register, you will be given a variety of ticket options designed to accommodate your busy schedule; three-day tickets, Wednesday tickets, and Opening Workshop tickets all include access to up to 3 workshops. All workshops require advance registration.


8:30-11:30 am

Zingerman’s Guide to The Art of Giving Great Service

Jenny Tubbs

Full Description

The popular ZingTrain Workshop on the Art of Great Customer Service is returning to Boston for a command performance. Local business continue to bring multiple staff members for this extraordinary workshop that will inspire and teach entrepreneurs and their staff how to really serve the customers.

Some of the best businesses in the world have come to Zingerman’s Community of Businesses to learn about and adopt (or adapt) Zingerman’s approach to customer service. This is Zingerman’s most popular training!

Great service is a cornerstone of Zingerman’s success. Zingerman’s has earned its reputation for great service by intentionally creating an organizational culture that nurtures great service and by teaching each and every one of its employees the recipes that the organization has developed for great service – namely the 3 steps to giving great service and the 5 steps to effectively handling customer complaints.

The Soul of Place

Michael Jones and Michelle Holliday

Full Description

In this workshop, we will explore four timeless patterns that shape all living, creative, expressive systems, including organizations and communities. As we work with these patterns, important new insights and possibilities emerge. And at the heart of this work is engaging the soul of place. Looking at place not only as something to return to but also something to grow out from – orienting us to the future and not only the past – and by realizing that a place is not an object or a thing, but a power and a presence, we can partner with place in a way that is itself deeply transformative, opening our hearts to the experience of beauty, aliveness and possibility, together. By deepening our connection with place, we open up vast untapped potential within the local sustainable economies movement. This is the critical next stage in our movement.

Business Alliance Roundtable on Development (BARD): Mature Organizations Conspiring to Grow Their Impact

Jennifer Rubenstein, Louisville Independent Alliance
Jeff Milchen, American Independent Business Alliance
Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona
Rebecca Melancon, Austin Independent Business Alliance
Jenn Thompson, Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance

Full Description

BARD is a gathering of leaders from mature Independent Business Alliances/Local First Networks that have at least one full-time staff member and over 100 members. BARD convenes periodically by phone and in-person to connect local organizations, share successes, ideas and solidify a peer network to grow their organizations and impact. Proposed discussion topics include: partnerships with local government and public policy initiatives; diversifying the Localization Movement; benchmarks to quantify local impact, business models for local Alliances; and scaling up from local success to a national movement.
This session is for representatives of BARD organizations and other allied organizations.  If you are with an organization not previously participating in BARD, we would love to have you join us. Please contact Josh Berman at

Urban Farming and Small Business: Where People, Land and Creativity Intersect! (Off-Site Tour)

Tour Guide: Karen Spiller

Departs Curry Student Center promptly at 8:30 am
Arrives back at Curry Student Center at 12:15 pm

Full Description

This tour is designed to be an experience of urban farming and its links to our growing business of food entrepreneurism in Boston. From land that is being reclaimed, restored and redesigned to its beginnings as a farm to a church food forest and then to entrepreneurs who are committed to locally and regionally sourcing for their unique products, you will see a snapshot of our vibrant urban farming community and its intersection of land, faith and food economy here in Boston.

This tour includes a marketplace where you can buy a taste of New England for lunch and other locally-sourced treasures to savor or share later.

  • 8:50-9:40 (approx.)
    Urban Farming Institute is the home of Boston’s first Urban Farmer Training Program and a link to active farms in Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester. In Mattapan, another neighborhood in Boston, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, 1786 will be its new home this summer/fall along with Baraka Community Wellness. We will see the construction in action in Mattapan and step out on the land in Dorchester.
  • 10:00-10:50 (approx.)
    Old West Church. United Methodist Church’s land has been transforming into an urban food forest as part of its mission to support equity and justice through food. In 2015, this began in partnership with Boston Food Forest Coalition. You will meet the designers, parishioners, Northeastern University’s NUSERVES students and community volunteers who are making this food forest grow!
  • 11:00-12:00 (approx.)
    The Boston Public Market is an indoor, year-round marketplace for locally sourced groceries and specialty agricultural products, where residents and visitors can find fresh, seasonal food from Massachusetts and New England. The Market houses 40 local farmers, fishers, and food entrepreneurs selling items such as farm fresh produce; meat and poultry; eggs; milk and cheese; fish and shellfish; bread and baked goods; beverages; flowers; and an assortment of specialty and prepared foods. We will have time to grab lunch, shop and support local small businesses here in New England!

Boston’s Southwest Corridor and Park: Linking and Empowering Communities with (Public Infrastructure and) Transit (Off-Site Tour)

Ken Kruckemeyer, AIA, Partner-Strategies for Cities and former Southwest Corridor Project Manager
Anne-Marie Lubenau, FAIA, Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

8:30 am-12:30 pm. The workshop will begin and end at Northeastern University and includes an MBTA transit pass.

Full Description
One of the largest public works projects in Massachusetts’ history, the Southwest Corridor connects several Boston neighborhoods and downtown with rail, transit stations, and a 52-acre landscaped greenway. An intense community process inspired the investment which includes streets, bike paths, parks, and playgrounds that support neighborhood development.

This workshop includes a walking and transit tour of the corridor as it passes through the South End, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. Share your own observations and conclusions as we discuss the challenges at the intersection of public and private investment, including the differing visions of success and the impacts on sustainability.


1:00-2:30 pm

Boston Ujima Project: Creating a Community-Controlled Finance & Business Ecosystem

Nia Evans, Hendrix Berry and Aaron Tanaka, Boston Ujima Project

Full Description

This interactive workshop will walk participants through the creation of a finance and business ecosystem that is governed by Boston’s low-income communities of color via creative interventions at every phase of an economic cycle.

Community Entrepreneurship: A Case Study in Innovation from a European Perspective

Arnaud Florentin, Director at Utopies, pioneer and leading sustainability consultancy in France, 1st French B- Corp.
Florent Levavasseur & Emma Castel, Local Living Economies team, Utopies
Raphaël Souchier, localist expert, author of Made in Local

Full Description

Metrics are quite powerful to advocate the positive impacts of local strategies. They can help stakeholders understand better both the strengths and the needs of a community. In this collaborative workshop, our French visitors will present their own enrichment of US-inspired tools, as well as specific approaches of local capacity-building for community development.

Setting Your Sustainable Company Apart Through Story

Jackie Herskovitz Russell, Founder/CEO of Teak Media + Communication

Full Description

Years ago, companies that had a social mission were unique enough to attract customers. But now that more businesses are catching on to the value of being responsible, sustainable, or charitable, they need to be able to effectively communicate their mission, and answer the question, “So What?” to differentiate themselves from competition and engage new audiences.

In her interactive workshop, “Setting Your Sustainable Company Apart Through Story,” Jackie Herskovitz Russell, founder and president of Teak Media + Communication, will assist attendees as they create compelling messaging that will generate results for their companies, projects, or products.

With so much negative news in the media, the public is craving positive news. Herskovitz Russell will empower workshop audiences to leverage positive business stories, reach new customers, and increase their revenue.

Using proven tactics from Ted Talks and the world’s most impressive speakers, Herskovitz Russell will take attendees through the components that are at the foundation of memorable messaging. She’ll explain the biology behind how our brains receive and interpret information and how to harness this science to craft moving stories. She’ll present storytelling models that attendees can use when shaping corporate communications, offering real-world success stories about sustainability and socially responsible campaigns and initiatives from her own and others’ professional experiences. Attendees will have time to work together to write and share their new corporate stories based on the tools presented during the workshop.

The workshop will drive home the importance of unified messaging, how to create it, and how it can be best used to reach multiple audiences. Finally, Herskovitz Russell will provide PR 101 tools and tactics companies can use in effort to leverage traditional and social media to get their corporate stories out to potential clients, partners, and the public.

Building Powerful Local Organizations (IBA 101)

Jeff Milchen, Co-Founder/Co-CEO AMIBA

Full Description

Independent Business Alliances/Local First groups have proven their ability to shift local culture and spending, but starting one is no small undertaking. This workshop will outline the keys to instigating an IBA, effective public education campaigns and sustaining an organization. You’ll see examples from coalitions across the country and have plenty of opportunity to get answers to your questions about launching a new entity or boosting your young organization.

Toward “50 by 60”: Advancing a Regional Food System Strategy

Food Solutions of New England
Joanne Burke, U of NH Sustainability Institute
Curtis Ogden, Interaction Institute for Change
Karen Spiller, KAS Consulting

Full Description
Food Solutions New England (FSNE), a regional network, recognizes the potential and power of collaboration and of embracing food system strategies that support healthy food for all, sustainable farming and fishing, racial equity and thriving communities.

In this interactive session participants will learn how FSNE is working to build regional connectivity and alignment around a bold vision of greater food self-reliance, that simultaneously reflects its commitment to racial equity and human dignity. This interactive workshop will consider a food system framework that encourages participants to engage in network thinking to advance their values-based work.


3:00-4:30 pm

Fairness in Foodservice: Using Open-Book Management to Transform Restaurant Teams and Profitability

Joe Grafton

Full Description

A growing number of restaurants in the Boston-area are rethinking their business model. A panel of entrepreneurs will share how their open-book management education and profit-sharing programs have dramatically increased business profits, improved teamwork and morale, increased the wages of their team, and created a culture of ownership thinking.

Raising the Minimum Wage: What’s Happening and How Supporting Can Be Your Competitive Advantage

Alissa Barron-Menza, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage
Michael Kanter, Cambridge Naturals
Holly Sklar, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage

Full Description

How do wages fit into our understanding of local, sustainable economies and business success? Learn from fellow business leaders about the impact of past increases, what’s happening around the country, how you can engage, and how fair wages can be a critical part of your competitive advantage and what helps you survive and thrive. We’ll explore different angles from strengthening your customer base to lowering turnover and increasing productivity to leveling the playing field for small businesses.

Growing the Local Food Economy Through Connection, Collaboration, and Distribution

Lily Brislen, Executive Director, The Food Connection
Michelle Cruz, Community and Vendor Engagement Manager, Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Laura Edward Orr, Executive Director, Red Tomato
Matthew Tortora, Co-Founder and CEO, Crave Food Services

Full Description

Developing a deeper and wider local food distribution channels is a key component of growing the local food economy. This workshop will focus on the success stories and lessons learned from four dynamic leaders who have made a big impact on local food systems. Their vision and practical knowledge in connecting local eaters with local food producers will inspire and inform participants through an interactive format.

Getting Cash in the Hands of Local Entrepreneurs

Moderator: Michael Shuman
Panelists: Amy Cortese, Amy Campbell Bogie

Full Description
Amy Cortese, Michael Shuman, and Amy Campbell Bogie will share ideas of how local entrepreneurs can access capital in their communities and what local network leaders can do to facilitate these transactions to grow their local economies. Topics will include crowdfunding, peer lending, pre-selling, community ownership, and local securities offerings. The workshop will also include an overview of what community members need to know to invest in local businesses as well as the current and future policy landscapes for community finance.