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Showing posts from December, 2016

The Search for Expansion Space: Part I

About a year and a half ago, two professors from F&M released a report on Lancaster's poverty problems.

The rate is about 29%; you can find data like this at the US Census bureau or through cool tools like PolicyMap, which also gives very refined views of neighborhood statistics.

Before we started The Lancaster Food Company in 2013, I spent some time on PolicyMap to try to figure out where we should locate the company. It's a lofty goal--try to reduce poverty by hiring people living under the line who live within walking distance, and there isn't a lot of real estate available in the city for food manufacturing.

Some of the highest poverty rates were right around South Water Street and Hazel. So we looked very closely at a few buildings when we started. We passed on the building that became Spring House's third location. It's a very cool building, but it needed a lot of work and we're not developers. The property itself is two acres, and has a remarkable vi…

Watching from the Shore

I almost drowned.

Two and a half years ago I stopped at the beach to get a swim in at the end of a sales day in NJ. It was a beautiful day--perfect sky, perfect air, perfect water. It was after hours so it was just me out there with some surfers beyond the breakers.

The waves were large but you had to swim out to them because it was high tide and the sandbars that summer formed further out. After riding some of the small inside waves, still feeling good, I started out for the big waves. At some point I realized I wasn't really getting anywhere, or it seemed like that; I looked back to the shore, and it seemed far away, looked toward the large waves, then tried to touch the bottom with my toes.

I couldn't. I was in a fairly deep channel that was basically a wide riptide, and I panicked and tried to swim out of it. Then I tried to swim toward a visible sandbar about 50 yards away but the rip was too wide. So I turned toward shore, trying to get past the pull of the rip, using th…

Poverty is the Moral Failing of Our Time

If Lancaster area employers would raise their wages to one that reflects human dignity, one that honors an honest day's work, we could cut poverty in half and improve family lives for thousands, because so many have to work two jobs to make ends meet. You probably know this but it's worth saying again: I believe paying poverty wages is an immoral act that hurts the community, and that ending poverty is a moral imperative for Lancaster.

Not everyone believes that, of course.
And not everyone has built their businesses with moral wages in mind , so changing from extractive, exploitative wages is difficult. It takes work, reimagining what the business model could or should be.
And who is to say what that "moral wage" is: $15? $20? $12? It's like the judge said about porn; it's ahrd to describe but I know it when I see it. It's a wage that allows someone to live without anxiety of losing a place to live, or food to eat, or meeting other basic needs for t…