A Watershed Moment: National BALLE Conference Comes to Grand Rapids

On today’s episode we hear from Ellissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First, as she discusses the upcoming tenth annual BALLE Conference (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) being held this week in Grand Rapids.

BALLE is a national organization that brings together locally-owned, independent businesses across the country interested in impacting their communities through socially-responsible business practices. It is comprised of over 80 community networks in 30 different states representing over 22,000 constituent members. And with over 600 participating businesses in West Michigan, Local First is one of the largest BALLE Networks in the country.

According an interview with BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long in the May 7 edition of Grand Rapids Business Journal, Grand Rapids was a natural choice for this year’s conference.

“The city was picked because of the innovation that is happening in Grand Rapids to grow the economy from the inside out. The real Local First Mentality there and the fact that Grand Rapds has been named one of America’s greenest cities are reasons we want to come and learn from that place,” she said.

The conference will feature workshops, seminars and panel discussions to help local business owners design and implement sustainable business practices.

The event will also include nationally-recognized speakers like philosopher, activist and Detroit-native, Grace Lee Boggs. Her newest book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century draws on seven decades of civil-rights work to offer a grass-roots plan for creating a more sustainable American society.

“Grace is in her 90’s now so it’s maybe one of the last opportunities to hear her wisdom. Grace will be speaking about Detroit and community development. I’m super excited to here from her,” said Hillary.

Local First will cohost the Balle Conference this week, May 15-19. More information about events and how to attend can be found at livingeconomies.org/conference-2012.

Listen to this episode of A Watershed Moment online.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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