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格雷斯专栏之一:底特律:梦想经济
发布时间:2007-03-13 11:43:55  点击次数:864次    [ 进入论坛]

LIVING FOR CHANGE  为改变而生
Detroit: The Imagination Economy 底特律:梦想经济
 Last week’s Living for Change column on “Bringing Home Our Economy” reminded me of why I am a Detroit business owner (Avalon International Breads), a Detroit homeowner (I live near Wayne State University and the bakery). and a parent of two small children, creating a life for the future and for family in Detroit, even as so many families are still leaving the city for the suburbs and beyond.
 The failures of our city are legendary. But we still enjoy certain advantages, the riverfront, a city rich with musicians and artists, great housing stock, lots of vacant land, AND especially the paths not taken.

We have not become magnets for big box stores that deprive small businesses of the human marketing air they need to prosper. Land values in most of the city have not skyrocketed out of reach through speculation. Housing stock has not become so precious that it is off-limits to working Detroiters.

And Detroit it is still a city of 800,000 people, surrounded by a metropolitan region of 3.5 million people, that lacks many of the fundamental aspects of a city.

Seen in this way Detroit is a unique island of opportunity for entrepreneurs, farmers, grassroots leaders, architects, artists, visionaries and homesteaders interested in creating a new path to development based on principles for the 21st Century : sustainability, local economy and community. This is the path that I call the Imagination Economy.

The Imagination Economy is what inspired my partner, Ann Perrault and myself to start Avalon International Breads almost 10 years ago. When I first moved into Detroit, I remembered the words of James Boggs, “We can’t wait for the man to create our jobs or our economy. We need to make our own bread, fix our own shoes, sell our own bikes.”

So in 1996, Ann and I decided to open a bakery in  Detroit. We were not business owners, we had little start-up capital, and we had never baked commercially. And yet, from day one Avalon has prospered, showing the strength of the principles of the Imagination Economy:
 SUSTAINABILITY: From the beginning, Avalon has been committed to “right relationship with the earth” as one of our three bottom lines. This has meant that we use 100% organic flour, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and are working towards becoming a zero waste business. This not only benefits the workers, the customers and the Earth, but it is built-in human marketing, as customers share their enthusiasm with others not only about our company’s products, but also about our values.

LOCAL ECONOMY: Sustainability also means that we pursue relationships with local food producers as much as possible, working to create a local network of food production which can begin to build the infrastructure for inner-city food growth and production. In a city with over 800 square miles of vacant land and one of the lowest levels of access to healthy, affordable food for its citizens, local farming and food production must be a key component of the Imagination Economy.

Our customers also appreciate the value of local business. They see our 30  employees, all making living wages, with benefits. They know that we live in the neighborhood and are watching our children grow up here. Moreover, they have watched and supported the other independent businesses that have sprung up around us. Our customers know a good thing and make sure to support it.

COMMUNITY: Ann and I could not have started from scratch just anywhere. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta all have exceedingly high barriers to entry and tight competition that makes it impossible to learn on the job. But in Detroit, we could pay relatively cheap rent for a raw space near the cultural center of the city. We could create something that was new, different and above all, appreciated. And we could have the best, the biggest-hearted, the most patient and generous of clientele. Our customers have been our teachers, our marketers, and in the hardest days, our cheerleaders. Even as we have worked to support the many visionary projects that exist in the city, our community has always supported us.

SUSTAINABILITY, LOCAL ECONOMY AND COMMUNITY are three pillars of the path not-yet taken in Detroit. A path that moves beyond downtown development, beyond “cool cities”.
 The Imagination economy can be an authentic expression_ of who we are.
 The Imagination economy takes advantage of the lack of infrastructure and institutions, in order to create a new economy that understands the needs of the 21st Century in Detroit and beyond.
 What could the imagination economy look like in Detroit? Let’s use not only our imaginations for the future, but our lessons from the past and start there.
   

    上星期“为改变而生”专栏的“带我们的经济回家”使我想起为什么我是一个底特律的商人(Avalon 国际面包行),一个底特律的居住者(我住在离Wayne国立大学和伯克利大学很近的地方),以及两个小孩子的母亲,为未来和家庭在底特律创造了一种生活,与此同时仍有那么多的家庭正在离开城市去郊外居住。
    我们城市的败笔像是传奇,但是我们仍然享受着某种优势,临河住宅区,有着众多博物馆和艺术家的城市,坚挺的房地产股,许多空地,以及,特别是未被利用的道路。
我们没有变成那种像磁铁一样、剥夺需要在繁荣的市场氛围下生存的小商铺的生存机会的大仓储商场。土地的价值在城市的大多数地方并没有通过投机行为猛涨到超出预想之外。房产股也并没有变得如此珍贵以至于超出底特律工人们的承受能力。
    底特律依然是一个拥有着八十万人口的城市,她的周围是三百五十万人口的主要都市区,这些都市缺少作为一个城市应当有的许多基础设施。
    从这个方面来看,底特律是一个对企业家、农民、草根领袖、建筑师、艺术家、梦想家和农场主来说充满机会的独一无二的小岛,这些人有志于创造一种建立在21世纪原则上的以可持续发展、地方经济和社区为发展方向的新途径,我把这一途径叫做梦想经济。
    梦想经济激发了我的伙伴,安·派洛特和我去开创Avalon国际面包行,这发生在差不多十年前。当我第一次搬到底特律,我记得詹姆斯·博格所说的话:“我们不能等待男人为我们去创造工作机会和我们的经济。我们需要造成我们自己的面包,修理我们自己的鞋子,出售我们自己的单车。”
    因此在1996年,安和我决定在底特律开一个面包房。我们并不是商人,我们只有很少的启动资金,而且我们从未从事过商业化烘烤。但是最终,从Avalon生意兴隆的那天起,我们就开始展示了梦想经济原则的力量。
    可持续发展:从一开始,Avalon就把“与地球保持合理关系”作为我们的三条底线之一。这就意味着我们用的是100%的有机面粉、保证环保清洁的生产,并且我们为了实现零浪费而努力。受益的不仅是工作人员、消费者和地球,而且由于它是人类基本需求市场的一部分,   所以消费者在将我们的产品与他人分享的同时,也在分享着我们的价值观。 

    当地经济:可持续发展还意味着我们尽可能注意与当地食品生产建立关系,创造当地的食品生产网络,这可以从为城市内部的食品增长和生产建立基本设施开始。在一个拥有着800多平方公里空地的城市,有着最低的健康水准,要为其市民提供充足的食物,当地农业和食品生产是梦想经济的关键部分。
    我们的顾客同样欣赏当地商业的价值。他们同意我们的30位挣工资的员工是为了利益。他们知道我们是邻居,我们的孩子一起在这里被照看、长大;不仅如此,他们还关注并支持在我们周围兴起的其他独立企业。我们的顾客非常明白事理并知道如何去支持。
    社区:安和我不能从盲目地乱碰乱撞起步。由于极高的准入门槛和激烈的竞争,进入纽约、三番市、芝加哥及亚特兰大创业是不可能的。但是在底特律,我们可以支付相对便宜的租金,在接近市中心的地方租到一个空房。我们可以创造一些新的、不同的,至少,是被欣赏的东西。我们可以拥有最好的、最善良、最有耐心和最慷慨的顾客。我们的顾客已经成为我们的老师和市场商人;在那些最艰难的日子里,他们还是我们的拉拉队长。就在我们开始工作来支撑许多梦想的工程时,在这个城市里,我们的社区总是支持着我们。
    可持续发展、当地经济和社区是底特律还未开垦之路的三个支柱,这是一条超越闹市发展和“冷酷的城市”的发展道路。
    梦想经济可以成为一种对我们是谁的真正表达。
    梦想经济是从基层组织和机制缺乏中寻找发展机会,力图去创造一种新的经济以理解并超越底特律21世纪的需要。
    在底特律,梦想经济看起来像什么?让我们用我们对未来的想象和对过去的认识来开始吧。

翻译:刘秀丽,校对:王琼

2007.1.16

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