So there’s nothing like a visit to Toronto to stimulate your brain cells and get the ideas flowing. As I walked through an area called the Junction on Dundas Street in Toronto, I started thinking about the power and potential of entrepreneurship as an economic booster in Buffalo. Not just plain old profit driven business, but entrepreneurship embraces people and place. Entrepreneurship that doesn’t just take and consume, but that gives back. Business that creates a net positive impact for its workers, the environment, and the community in which it operates. This is what we’re thinking of when we use the term NET POSITIVE and it will also be the main focus of the work of the Net Positive Foundation.
Net Positive is a movement to change the way that we do business in this country, a model for how Buffalo can begin to redefine it’s economy, rebuild neighborhoods, and create meaningful employment for its residents. I don’t think it’s idealist, I think we’re already seeing a shift in peoples consciousness away from the cookie cutter, homogeneous, factory farm, mass produced paradigm of business…to a more local, responsible, ecologically sound, and livable philosophy of business and purchasing.
I started dreaming about an artisan focused business district/incubator that highlighted businesses that represent everything that is great about Buffalo. Shops that repaired architectural windows and reupholstered furniture, galleries and studios that featured the work of mosaic artists and potters, and utilitarian businesses that supported those most in need in our neighborhoods…appliances repair, shoe repair, electronics repair, etc. Businesses that are creative and create wealth, curb consumption, and build on our strengths as a community.
This idea transported me back to China, to the town of Lijiang that I visited in 2000. As I walked the streets of Lijiang and glimpsed into the lives of our neighbors a half a world away, I witnessed the skills of the people and an economy that thrived to meet the needs of the local population.
The great thing about Toronto is that its jam packed with people, the mere scale of people and ideas seems to nurture and promote innovation and ideas. If you’re ever bored, visit Toronto and spend the day “mining for ideas” like I did yesterday. Then bring them back to Buffalo and be part of a movement to restart the engine of responsible business here in Buffalo, NET POSITIVE business. So many possibilities, limitless potential.