Davis, chef and owner of Yabba Pot, not only grows her own vegetables but also works with an African American supplier who provides her with produce grown in Maryland. And the restaurant’s baked goods are prepared by two African American-owned vegan bakeries in Baltimore. “Buying local has so many benefits,” enthuses Davis. “I get great deals, and I feel like I’m really supporting vendors in the community. More importantly, I’m able to provide my customers with fresh foods that weren’t flown in from the other side of the country.”
With the increase in oil prices and growing concerns over contaminated produce, buying local makes sense. In addition, supporting local restaurants and farmers contributes to the economic well-being of your community. “Buying local can be more expensive,” Davis says. “But the benefits are worth it.”
Picture this: a mixed-income, environmentally friendly condominium that boasts air filters, energy from 25% renewable sources, a health club, on-site Zipcars, green roofs, landscaped public courtyards, and a movie theater targeting the African American and Hispanic markets—and in Harlem, no less. The Kalahari Condominium is just one of several projects headed by New York-City based real estate developers Carlton Brown and Walter Edwards.
“We had a vision of rebuilding in historically black communities in a way that took the needs of the community into account,” says Brown, who along with Edwards, founded the development company Full Spectrum in 1988. “We wanted to provide housing that was green and socially equitable.”
Their first projects included town homes in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Edwards notes that when they bought the lots for development in Brooklyn, the city of New York wanted them to build homes that were dark and narrow. Instead, the pair conceived of a way to build homes that were only a few feet wider but gave the appearance of being spacious and airy. “We think of ourselves as problem solvers,” Edwards says. “When we begin a project, we factor in environmental, economic, social, and cultural issues. We’re all about human sustainability.”
In addition to the Kalahari project, Brown and Edwards are excited about their newest venture, Full Spectrum South in Jackson, Mississippi. The duo also has projects in the works in the Bronx, Trenton, New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh. “We believe in creating eco-friendly housing where professionals and working-class folks can live side by side,” Edward says. “This way, both the judge and the janitor can build equity, which can be passed on to the next generation.” Human sustainability indeed.
Smart CEOs know there’s more to corporate social responsibility than placing recycling bins in the corner copy room. Today, major corporations and nonprofits are making a real difference in the communities—and countries—in which they do business. While their motives are partly altruistic, corporations from General Motors to McDonald’s realize that corporate citizenship contributes to the bottom line. After all, consumers are attracted to companies that