Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year end blog notes - get out there and play in traffic

 In April of 2013 this Sustainable Work blog will be 8 years old.

I've wanted to do many kinds of jobs since I was a kid.  Throughout it all I've wanted to write and work as an entrepreneur.

My first small business gig was through the Elmhurst (IL) Press Agency.  I think I did this from about 6th to 8th grade  A group of us would come tearing into this newspaper office on our (un-lit, un-helmeted, look-no-handlebars) bicycles at about 4:00 AM in dead darkness during summer breaks.

We bought papers (Chicago Tribune and Sun Times) from the agency for $0.08 each for the right to sell them for $0.10 each.  Plus tips.  That's where you made your money.

The agency would shuttle us out to the busiest corners in the region in a rickety old van.  My spot was the corner of (IL) Route 83 and North Avenue. 

My job was to run as fast as I could between long lines of cars that would stack up at the red lights.  Customers would stick their arms out of their drivers window and you'd run to sell them their paper.  Then I'd look up for an arm waving in the exhaust fumes further down the queue and I'd take off running to get to them before the light changed.

By hindsight this was nutty, considering the moving traffic, early 1960's engine emissions, and a million other small, grave dangers.

I think good entrepreneurs and writers love the same stuff,  They look for opportunities to run through dangerous traffic.  

I really like practicing the writing part here.  My blog numbers have risen steadily since 2005, but this last year has seen a real bump in visitors.

Lately this blog has registered more than 9,000 page views per month, and more that 86,000 total page views since it's beginning.  These are not crazy viral numbers, but they certainly make me want to keep running and writing.

Thanks to everyone who visits this site.  It's time to start or grow your own new enterprise.  Get out there and play in the traffic.   I wish you a wonderful 2013!

Photo:  Snowy Egret I spent some quality time with at the  Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, December 2012.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"What's Farmland Worth? What's a Trademark Worth?"

My pal Rich Schell writes a great blog about food entrepreneurship,   

Rich currently has a really good post up:

"What's Farmland Worth? What's A Trademark Worth?/ The Answer Is The Same--Tell Me What You're Gonna Do With It, And I'll Tell You What I Think It Could Be Worth?"


"... So, if you're going to do something like what Mr. Green did with a trademark then, it's worth a lot, just like if you're going to use farmland to produce a branded retail food product that sells for a premium, in a business with healthy margins that has formidable barriers to competition and an exquisite local presence, then I would say that farmland's worth a lot too"

"So, what are you going to do with your farmland?"

Thanks to Rich for a great post. 

This speaks directly to the high value of small, safe, professionally staffed food processing centers like the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  We are bringing new, branded food products to the market that capture and celebrate the opportunities for small food businesses and farms.  The time is right.  The opportunity is here.

"What's Farmland Worth? What's A Trademark Worth?/ The Answer Is The Same--Tell Me What You're Gonna Do With It, And I'll Tell You What I Think It Could Be Worth?"  (Rich Schell)  


Innovation Kitchens


The 2013 Chicago Farmers 2013 Farmland Investment Fair, Feb. 2, 2013.  Joliet, IL.  Rich helps organize the Farmland Investment Fair.  I'll be speaking again this year.  Join us!



Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Makers. The New Industrial Revolution" - Buckle up for this ride!

"In an age of custom fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed upon the economy, driving a new age of American Manufacturing."

This is from Chris Anderson, author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Long Tail, has written a great new one called Makers.  The New Industrial Revolution.  I highly recommend it.

I love the manufacturing world. Our last business designed, built and sold products to heavy industries all over the world.  It felt rewarding to see things we'd invented and manufactured helping to solve serious global problems.

But manufacturing is tough.  The first few of anything are expensive and usually not exactly right.

Now the desktop revolution is coming to fabrication and it looks like one heck of a big opportunity for the world.

Chris Anderson's 'Makers' compares our current desktop manufacturing to the early stages of the desktop publishing revolution. 

"Two decades after desktop publishing became a mainstream reality, the word desktop is being added to industrial machinery,  with equally mind-blowing effect."

If you think this might be some bleeding-edge, high-investment pursuit, think again.  Popular Science Magazine recent issue featuring the top 100 Innovations of the year, cited the Makerbot Replicator as their choice for "Easiest 3-D Printing".   Models start at $1,799.

I took this photo of the intricately fabricated 'Motion W' as it was being made on a consumer-grade 3-D printer at the University of Wisconsin.  I have this 'W' on my desk. 

Amazing.  And when you tie all this to the new crowdfunding models, things look amazingly possible.

I highly recommend Chris Anderson's new book, 'Makers.  The New Industrial Revolution.'

Of course I see a parallel in all this to the small-batch food 'manufacturing' done at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  Different stuff being made with different tools, but the same story.

By providing increasing numbers of people with increasingly affordable access to increasingly valuable tools you're going to get positive outcomes.

Chris Anderson, Wikipedia

The Replicator, by Makerbot

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Milwaukee welcomes Martha's Pimento Cheese

I love Martha's Pimento Cheese.

My good pal Martha Davis Kipcak's emerging food empire, Mighty Fine Food, has just launched their new pimento cheese.

I'm honored to say I was one of Martha's earliest taste testers and most enthusiastic supporters.

This is from a new article and review linked below:

An American Classic

"Combining local, handmade Wisconsin cheese with a classic Southern recipe, Martha’s Pimento Cheese takes your taste buds on a delicious cross-country trip. Handcrafted in small batches with premium ingredients, MPC is meant to comfort and nourish. Spread on a sandwich, serve as a dip, crown your best burger, tuck into farm fresh eggs, get to eating . . . . . . no directions required."

From the Mighty Fine Food web site:  "When life’s road led Martha Davis Kipcak North from her native Texas to Milwaukee, she fell in love with Wisconsin’s world-class cheese, but longed for a favorite Southern staple: pimento cheese. It was then that the Community Food Advocate and Chef decided to set out on a new culinary adventure. Mighty Fine Food was born with Martha’s Pimento Cheese leading the way, marrying the best of Southern foodway traditions with the best of Wisconsin’s finest contribution to American eating: great cheese."

I really love Martha's story.   I really love Martha's Pimento Cheese. article, nicely written by Lori Fredrich

Mighty Fine Food and Martha's Pimento Cheese

Also kudos to my friend Bob Wills at Clock Shadow Creamery.  Martha produces her wonderful Pimento Cheese at the Clock Shadow Creamery, for sale at a number of outlets including the creamery store.   Clock Shadow Creamery is the first urban cheese factory in Wisconsin.  As Martha would say, 'Good on ya, Bob!'