The Poor People’s Campaign & its sweetest backer

Ben & Jerry’s is marking the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign with a special display from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture about the civil rights struggle. The exhibit is on display throughout 2018 at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vt., which is Vermont’s largest single tourist attraction, with 400,000 visitors each year. This is the Smithsonian’s first exhibit at a corporate location. At the unveiling of the exhibit, Ben & Jerry’s founder Jerry Greenfield talks about why the company is the lone corporate sponsor of the modern Poor People’s Campaign against racism, poverty and militarism, and a Smithsonian curator discusses the purpose and challenge of having a civil rights exhibit at an ice cream factory. (June 27, 2018 broadcast)

Dr. Aaron Bryant, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream

Do felons deserve a second chance?

In 2005, Ben and Jerry’s chief financial officer Mickey Wiles was charged with embezzling more than $300,000 from the company. Wiles pleaded guilty to a felony charge of wire fraud and served two years in federal prison. He confessed that his actions stemmed from alcoholism and substance abuse, and sought treatment.

After his release, Wiles became executive director of the Turning Point Center in Burlington, which assists people in recovery. He later joined the drug testing company Burlington Labs as chief financial officer. He played a key role lobbying in 2016 for passage of “ban the box” legislation in Vermont. In 2017, he founded Working Fields, a staffing agency which helps people in recovery to get a second chance and find a job. He discusses why he embezzled, who gave him a second chance, and his work helping others who have made mistakes. (June 27, 2018 broadcast)

Mickey Wiles, founder, Working Fields

Business leaders demand action on clean water & carbon

Five Vermont CEOs recently wrote an open letter to Vermont Gov. Phil Scott urging him to support studies for clean water and decarbonization. “We, as leaders of companies that employ more than 800 Vermonters and account for over $1 billion in sales each year, are concerned by your refusal to seek new information and analysis to address threats facing our state,” wrote CEOs Joey Bergstein of Seventh Generation, Jostein Solheim of Ben & Jerry’s, Jen Kimmich of The Alchemist, Bram Kleppner of Danforth Pewter and Mark Curran of Black River Produce. “Two critical studies which will address threats to Vermont’s economy and environment – one to identify funding to improve water quality, and one to study the economic costs and benefits of decarbonization – have received broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Yet you’ve declared that neither study should be funded,” the letter stated. “Hope is not a strategy.” Shortly after meeting with the CEOs, Scott issued a letter to the Legislature restating his opposition to the studies. We talk with CEO Bram Klappner about what is at stake and why businesses are speaking out. (April 11, 2018 broadcast)

Bram Kleppner, CEO, Danforth Pewter

Earth Day 46: Can businesses be environmentalists?

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets across the country to demonstrate for a sustainable environment. “By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.” [earthday.org]

On Earth Day 2016, activists and sustainable businesses came to the Vermont State House for a People’s Lobby Day. We speak with participants from two leading Vermont businesses about the role of businesses in advancing environmental goals and the challenges that their own companies face in trying to meet them. [April 20, 2016 broadcast)

Ashley Orgain, Manager of Mission Advocacy, Seventh Generation

Chris Miller, Manager of Social Mission & Activism, Ben & Jerry’s

Shay DiCocco, brand manager, Seventh Generation

In the second half of the show, we discuss the carbon tax and other initiatives to address environmental and climate change goals:

Daniel Barlow, Public Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council

Duane Peterson: From LA cop to VT solar guru, with a scoop of Chunky Monkey

Social entrepreneur Duane Peterson is on his 7th career with stints as a medic, LA cop, political campaigner, justice department official, legislative director and values-led business practitioner. The common thread throughout all of these roles has been organizing people to take meaningful action towards positive change. Duane moved to Vermont in 1996 to help Ben use Ben & Jerry’s as a force for social change. After 12 years there as Ben’s Chief of Stuff, Duane left to launch his latest venture — SunCommon — to make it easy and affordable for homeowners to help repower Vermont with clean, safe, in-state energy. A Benefit Corporation and a Certified BCorp, SunCommon is Vermont’s largest solar business with almost 100 workers. In September 2015, Duane received VBSR’s Terry Ehrich Award for his commitment to the environment, workplace, progressive public policy, and community.

Duane Peterson, co-founder, Suncommon

VBSR: A quarter century of socially responsible business in Vermont

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. From early efforts by business people who dubbed themselves “socialists for capitalism,” Vermont has been at the forefront of the socially responsible business movement. VBSR is now the largest statewide socially business association in the country. As home to iconic socially responsible brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Gardener’s Supply and Seventh Generation, Vermont businesses have pioneered the idea of businesses with a “triple bottom line:” measuring success in terms of people, profits and the environment. We speak with Vermont business leaders who have nurtured this movement since its inception:

Dave Barash, co-founder of VBSR, longtime social entrepreneur who worked for Ben & Jerry’s, currently Director of New Ventures for Vermont Energy Investment Corp.

Allison Hooper, co-founder of Vermont Creamery, early VBSR board member and on the original board of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Bruce Seifer, VBSR founding member, appointed by Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders to lead the City of Burlington’s economic development efforts, which he did for three decades

Julie Lineberger, former VBSR board chair, co-owner with her husband of LineSync, an architectural firm

Will Patten, former VBSR executive director, co-owner of Hinesburgh Public House, a socially responsible restaurant

Under the golden dome: Perspectives on Gov. Shumlin’s initiatives, 1-14-2014

Gallery

Mark Johnson of WDEV previews Gov. Peter Shumlin’s 2014 budget address. Advocates discuss their legislative priorities: Avram Patt, energy consultant and former general manager of Washington Electric Co-op, talks about net metering; Chris Miller, activism manager of Ben & Jerry’s speaks about GMO labeling; and … Continue reading

Guerrilla marketing, 7-17-2013

Alternative marketing gurus Duane Peterson of SunCommon and Chris Miller of Ben & Jerry’s talk about the value of values in business and guerrilla marketing that works.

Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s; Labeling GMO’s, 4/17/2013

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, discusses what makes a business socially responsible, his Stamp Stampede campaign to get money out of politics, the boycott campaign against Ben & Jerry’s over ice cream sales in Israel and the Occupied Territories, his thoughts on Occupy Wall Street, and humor in organizing. We also talk with Falko Schilling of VPIRG about the campaign to require labeling of genetically engineered food.