A number of Vermont’s iconic socially responsible businesses have something in common: Alan Newman. Newman was involved in starting Gardener’s Supply Company, he founded Seventh Generation Inc., and co-founded Magic Hat Brewing Company. Newman discusses his roots on an Oregon commune, his unconventional approach to launching a business, and we debate the merits of growth in Vermont’s craft beer business. (March 20, 2019 broadcast)
Vincent Stanley has been with Patagonia, the iconic outdoor clothing company, since its beginning in 1973, for many of those years in key executive roles as head of sales or marketing. He is co-author with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years. He currently serves as the company’s Director, Patagonia Philosophy, and is a visiting fellow at the Yale School of Management. He is also a poet whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry. He discusses the challenge of running a value-based business, why Patagonia is suing Pres. Donald Trump, and what the future holds for America’s best known socially responsible business. (February 13, 2019 broadcast)
How did sustainable business that support a triple bottom line of people, planet and profit become a movement? We talk with leaders of this movement from its founding to today. We look at how Vermont energized the socially responsible business movement, and how Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility have evolved differently, and what issues and history they share in common. (September 12, 2018 broadcast)
Jane Campbell, executive director, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Pat Heffernan, president, Marketing Partners, and a founder, first president, and former board member of VBSR
Michelle Veasey, executive director, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility
Jostein Solheim has just stepped down as CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream after eight years at the helm of this iconic progressive company. He took the job a decade after the company’s purchase by Unilever, and some worried that Ben & Jerry’s might retreat from its social mission. Instead, Solheim doubled down: during his tenure, Ben & Jerry’s became a certified B Corporation, signed an agreement with Migrant Justice called “Milk With Dignity” to protect and empower migrant dairy workers, and reduced chemical use within the company’s supply chain. Ben & Jerry’s is now among the only corporate sponsors of the Poor People’s Campaign, continuing work started by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., more than a half century ago. Solheim is now directing Unilever’s North American food and beverage operations. He reflects on blending business and activism, fighting white supremacy and poverty, and making great ice cream. (August 29, 2018 broadcast)
Can the power of state procurement be used to give incentives to companies that create livable wage jobs and good benefits? We discuss legislation that would level the playing the field for socially responsible businesses. (March 29, 2017 broadcast)
Dan Barlow, public policy manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
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
Can capitalism solve the problems of capitalism? Can business be a force for good? Two pioneers of socially responsible business hold a public conversation and offer their experiences and views on these and other topics with The Vermont Conversation host David Goodman.This is an edited version of a Vermont Town Hall public conversation held on Sept. 26, 2014, at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vt.
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.
Judy Wicks, VBSR’s 2013 Spring Conference keynote speaker, socially responsible business pioneer and founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, talks about her work, life, and her new memoir, Good Morning, Beautiful Business: The Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer.