Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT
In Haines, the bears go into hibernation when their food sources decrease. But we humans who live here have to survive year round. Becoming more food independent year round is one of the goals of our new course – Project Micro Green. Like most inventions, it was born out of necessity up here.
In 2008, very concerned about the unraveling of our financial investment infrastructure, it occurred to me I was looking at just one element of our capital basis. We in fact have five distinct sources of capital we can leverage to be in service and create value with and for one another – financial, social, knowledge, brand and infrastructure. I have written extensively on this and created a number of courses for Cheetah Learnng over the past eight years related to leveraging all your sources of capital. Yesterday was a remarkable day where I got the privilege of serving my community in three unique ways by leveraging my other non financial sources of capital.
One of my bigger goals is to improve food self sufficiency in this small remote Alaskan town I’ve called home the past 15 years. My daughter went to the University of Alaska in Anchorage and became a registered dietician – she is now the town dietician here. Several years ago, she introduced me to a concept I never gave much thought to living in the lower 48 – food insecurity. We get a barge that delivers our food here once a week. By the time we get fresh produce, it’s already at least ten days old. I’m not an epidemiologist but have noticed we seem to get a lot of people with cancer diagnoses up here – is there a correlation?
So this year, with the help of a recent Environmental Science grad from Berkley named Dylan Kasch, we started a project up here called the Alaska Research Garden. Our mission is to research and teach ways to become more food self sufficient here. (What we’ve realized is this is not just an up here issue). Anyhow, yesterday was one of those crucible days where everything coalesced into focus of exactly why we are doing what we are doing. We often do tours of the projects we have going on here. Yesterday we had the owners of the largest grocery store in town visiting. And we had a couple neighbors who want to help us share our efforts in the community. Together we may actually help make our town more food self sufficient. We are going to be helping each group set up micro green operations for the sectors of the community they serve, the way they serve them.
But that is not the all of yesterday. I’ve been negotiating an arrangement with one of the former town planners who wants to get into farming with his ten children. My dietician daughter had worked with him seven years ago in an internship – good guy, community first, kindred spirit in our interests in local food self suffficiency. Yesterday we signed the contract on a mutually agreeable approach to leverage a five acre parcel of land I own. It used to be the main farm in the area a hundred years ago, before we had a barge bringing up our food every week. It’s ten miles from my home, but only a half mile from his home. It’s a natural fit for he and his family to resurrect the historic farm for our town.
In all of these situations we are all leveraging our unique sources of capital to be of best service to each other and our community. Food self sufficiency is very much a community effort where we need to work together in the ways that best serve the greater good – and it’s most certainly not all about the money. It’s about leveraging our relationships. It’s about leveraging our collective know how. It’s about leveraging our infrastructure. And yes it’s about leveraging our brand equity – our reputations. Every single person I’m aligning with is rock solid with their heart in the right place – as demonstrated over years of consistent behavior.
Being in service to others is a highly collaborative effort – far more enjoyable when in the company of like minded, kindred spirits. While meeting financial needs is relevant, it is through leveraging our other sources of capital where we are often best in service together. I deeply appreciate the willing, go for it, pioneering spirit and the talent of my neighbor’s in this small Alaskan town. It makes it even more of an exciting adventure to be here, now.