Last week, I attended the B Corporation Champions' Retreat in Burlington, Vermont. B Corporations are redefining success in business—and Inspiring Capital is proud to be one of them. B Corps create higher quality jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. And, as the movement grows, it has become an increasingly powerful agent of change. B Corps strive to be not just the best
companies in the world, but also the best companies for the world.
Here are some highlights from an engaging and inspiring three days frolicking with our fellow B’s amidst the beautiful New England fall foliage!
Laugh & Learn Tour of Ben & Jerry’s
The morning began with a quick drive to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, where we were given a tour of the complex… and lots of free ice cream!
At the nearby Green Mountain Club, we engaged with a panel on supply chain sustainability, featuring two of the company’s biggest suppliers: Rhino Foods (cookie dough) and Greyston Bakery (brownies… plus an awesome social enterprise practicing open-hiring in Yonkers, NY). Hence the maker’s of the #1 Ben & Jerry’s flavor, Half Baked!
As a service provider rather than a product-based company, I was challenged to think outside the box about our suppliers. Internet provider? Office building? Kitchen supplies? If I, in turn, asked each of those suppliers about their suppliers’ sustainability practices, we could build a movement. If you want to go quickly, go alone—but if you want to go far, go together!
Sunset Cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen
B Lab co-founders Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy hosted a cruise on the beautiful Lake Champlain. I met interesting people from The Reformation clothing company in LA and Plum Organics in San Francisco, and caught up with Fellow NYC B Corps Perlman & Perlman and Susty Party. Cheers!
Dinner on Church Street
B Lab organized group dinners for like-minded B Corps—I was with fellow financial services B Corps like Agora Partnerships and Beneficial State Bank—along Burlington’s historic downtown pedestrian marketplace, Church Street.
Morning run along Lake Champlain
A member of the host committee, Flip Brown of Business Culture Consultants, suggested the Burlington Bike Path as a beautiful spot to jog. I’m glad I took his word for it!
Wendell Berry Discussion
Our “homework” for the conference was a reading from Wendell Berry, one of the leading names in sustainability and a champion for the local food and economics movement. Through an Aspen-style peer moderated session, we debated how we, as members of the B Corporation community, are or are not embodying Berry's core values. Would Berry approve of our use of capitalism to sustain the health and stability of human society, as well as nature's health?
B Lab is launching some exciting new initiatives…
- The B Lab Handbook is on sale now!
- The B Hive networking platform for B Corps’ employees,
- The B Corp VISA Credit Card through Beneficial State Bank to support B Lab (coming soon!),
- The B Corp Store as an online marketplace for B Corps’ products,
- B Corps On Campus to bring “business for good” concepts to undergraduate campuses nationwide,
- The Skoll Social Entrepreneurs Challenge – vote for B Lab starting October 27th!
- And many more…
4th Annual Champions Awards Dinner at Shelburne Farms
We retreated to Shelburne Farms for a gorgeous reception and dinner honoring the work of outstanding B Corps. With over 1,400 acres of working farmland, Shelburne Farms serves as a campus to educate the community for a sustainable future. The land originally belonged to the Vanderbilt family and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
B Inspired at the Flynn Theater
A series of inspiring TED talks by B Corp founders—from Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s to Chad Dickerson of Etsy—kicked off by the Mayor of Burlington, Miro Weinberger, was the perfect way to finish my trip.
Until next time,