Quite often, we’ll sense the need for change. This is natural.
For more than twenty years, SMSBF has worked to bring sustainable business thought leadership to Detroit and SE Michigan. We’ve put-on events and produced thought-provoking content. And over the years, things have changed. At SMSBF, we’re sensing it’s time for change, too.
Change, however, comes naturally. Change is not something that ought to be forced, but rather allowed to evolve. Nature teaches us about how things change: It takes time and patience, and when the conditions are right, the change evolves naturally.
For more than four years, SMSBF has had an on-going relationship with People First Economy (PFE). People First Economy is an economic support organization that creates a community of practice to build a Michigan Economy that puts People First. The statewide nonprofit does this through engaging business leaders to support social and environmental justice using emergent best practices; catalyzing place-based consumer and supply chain habits; and elevating small business voices in the legislative process. Beginning in 2019, SMSBF and PFE partnered on a grant from The Impact Project to bring civic engagement to Michigan’s businesses. That work built a sense of solidarity between the two organizations.
In 2022, SMSBF and PFE collaborated on the Business for Democracy project and made a positive impact on passing Michigan’s Proposal 2, a measure that ensures the health of the state’s democracy. In the face of growing inclinations toward authoritarianism, nothing could be more important than ensuring the health of our democracy. Working together, PFE and SMSBF formed a shared vision, one built around systems thinking, the foundation on which sustainability rests. SMSBF and PFE are now taking the next step in this evolution of change.
Over the next several months, SMSBF and PFE will work together to build relationships with key stakeholders in Detroit and SE Michigan and explore opportunities to further PFE’s programming in the region. This change is a natural outgrowth of the relationship between the two organizations. It’s premised on how nature works, which is all about systems thinking. And PFE’s programming is solidly built around systems thinking.
Beginning with Local First program, PFE brings locally owned businesses together to support each other and to nurture a diverse and resilient local economy. We know a dollar spent locally has an 80% greater, positive impact on the local economy than one spent with a non-local business. Working to support local, main street businesses leads to an economic system that’s diverse and resilient. Healthy systems in nature have the properties of diversity and resilience. Local First seeks to build local economies that have the same properties: diversity and resilience.
The Good for Michigan (GFM) program is the second leg of PFE’s programming. The GFM cohort program brings together small, main street businesses and meets them where they are today. GFM works with these businesses to undertake the journey to creating sustainable, triple bottom line value. Using assessment data from the globally recognized B-Impact Assessment and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Action Manager, and providing thoughtful, one-on-one consultations, in addition to cohort convenings, GFM supports these businesses on their journey toward sustainability. Organizing and nurturing sustainable business practices, in community, and within a local economy, is how nature works. Nature works from the small to the large, or from the ground-up.
Finally, PFE’s Impact Project program works to change the political economy, to one that puts people, not money, first. Today, we have a system dominated by large, corporate entities that hold far more sway over what goes on in Washington and Lansing than most voters. The present political economy doesn’t put people first. The Impact Project sets-out to change this. Working with small, main street businesses, the Impact Project advances non-partisan, public policy intended to create thriving, sustainable, local economies that put people first. We rely on the whole of the Earth system to support life. Human systems, and most importantly, our political economy, ought to do the same thing: support life.
Change is indeed inevitable, but most importantly, it’s natural. When we let nature run its course, and give change the time and patience necessary, the results ought to be sustainable. SMSBF and PFE will be focused on listening to business community needs, and with our stakeholders, co-creating a socially and environmentally sustainable future. We’ll be using local, state and international inputs and tools that have proven to bring about the changes we need. We’re very much looking forward to working together in Detroit and SE Michigan.