Oliver Russell Digs Deeper into the Local Movement

By Russ Stoddard / Jun 12, 2014

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“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” –Gary Snyder

We’re calling it a “B Day” of sorts here at Oliver Russell, as in Boise, B Corp, and Banner.

As part of our commitment to the community of Boise and our responsibility as a certified B Corporation, we assumed the management and marketing of a great community organization, Think Boise First, today—which makes it a banner day all the way around.

A Grassroots Movement Started in 2008

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Photo credit: boiseweekly.com

Let’s start with the backstory.

Think Boise First is part of what’s known as the “local living economies movement.” It was founded in 2008 by a small group of committed business owners and community advocates in Boise and Garden City who firmly believed that local business is at the core of sustainable local living. They crafted a mission for the endeavor focusing on connecting and promoting locally owned and independently operated businesses, while educating the community on local products and services and the economic benefits of buying local.

Taking Think Boise First to the Next Level

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  • The organization hit the ground running in 2008. Led by co-founder Beth Geagan, it immediately attracted more than 200 local business members.  Over the last six years, it achieved success creating awareness for the importance of local business to the community—especially in the promotion of its brand. Businesses proudly promote their involvement through signage, individuals wear its popular t-shirt, and guerilla locations, from bicycles to telephone poles, sport its logo sticker.

    “We talked to several interested parties. In the end, Oliver Russell made the most sense and provided the best option to keep Think Boise First alive and thriving in our community,”

    Earlier this year, Geagan began looking for viable options with more resources and marketing expertise to take the branded effort to the next level in Boise.

    “We talked to several interested parties. In the end, Oliver Russell made the most sense and provided the best option to keep Think Boise First alive and thriving in our community,” she said.

    Get It Local

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    The transfer of the Think Boise First brand to Oliver Russell marks a full circle of sorts. I was one of the group’s co-founders, while Oliver Russell designed its iconic brand identity.

    We think this is a smart way to live up to our purpose-driven commitment to our community, and we see an opportunity to demonstrate that responsibility through action. It’s our opportunity to keep the spirit of independent Boise alive and continue spreading the ‘get it local’ message.

    Transition to a Social Enterprise

    Whereas Think Boise First was managed under the nonprofit umbrella of Sustainable Community Connections, we will operate it as a for-profit social enterprise using commercial strategies to promote the local movement.

    We’re going to listen to the community and work on a plan for different revenue models and fundraising opportunities to generate the resources required to build the brand and promote local businesses.

    The Local Living Economies Movement

    If you’re interested in learning more about the local-business movement, a great resource is the Business Association for Local Living Economies (BALLE).  BALLE is the fastest-growing business alliance of values-aligned entrepreneurs, business networks, and local economy funders in North America.  It supports and promotes a network of 80 local business networks around the country, with a vision that’s inspiring: “Within a generation, we envision a global system of human-scale, interconnected local economies that function in harmony with local ecosystems to meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.” 

    So in answer to Gary Snyder’s poetic call to action, we’re digging in, Gary. Digging deeper and getting our hands dirty here at Oliver Russell. Thanks for the motivation of your words. And thanks to all the supporters of Think Boise First.

    (If you’d like to learn more about the community of certified B Corps, click here.  If you’d like to see our report card on the B Corp site, click here.)

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    Thumbnails People Russ Stoddard

    Russ Stoddard

    Russ started Oliver Russell in 1991. He’s committed his career (nearly 30 years) to social responsibility, first inside the corporate world and then as an entrepreneur who’s started four companies and five nonprofit causes. Russ is the author of "Rise Up - How to Build a Socially Conscious Business," and his creative work has been honored with local, regional, and national creative awards. These days, Russ focuses on brand strategy for clients, spreading the Certified B Corp love, and connecting kindred spirits to multiply social impact.

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