November 2013 ALAP Meeting Recap

Thanks to all for joining our November 2013 ALAP potluck meeting.  Tonight featured a super mix of speakers with a variety of exciting projects.  We started with the tag-team of Shauna Treter and Jim Lively from our hosts the Michigan Land Use Institute.  Shauna and Jim introduced a new local economy initiative now in the planning stages at MLUI that seeks to stimulate Buy Local awareness and increase local economic activity.  The effort is just getting underway, but given the track record MLUI brings with initiatives like Taste the Local Difference and TC Saves, we look forward to learning more and being part of the collaborative effort.  If you haven’t visited MLUI’s excellent site in a while, see what they’re up to at www.mlui.org.

Next up was Ellen Fred of Elf Cafe who provided the group with an impressive update on the modern play cafe concept she and co-conspirator Melissa Whitman are bringing to market.  In just a few short months Ellen and Melissa have raised the lion’s share of their starting capital needs from local investors and are now in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign to fund the final tranche.  Elf is now planning to redevelop a site in Slabtown with ultra-green, modular construction elements and ample room for outdoor garden and educational spaces.  For those interested in learning more, check out their Indiegogo pitch (which expires tomorrow 11/15) here.

Following Ellen was Drew Warner of Leland-based Just Good Chocolate.  Founded in Spring of 2011, Just Good Chocolate is plotting its next phase of growth after a successful two years of brand-building and product line expansion (including three varieties of Fair Trade, organic cacao-based snack mixes, Mug O’ Love hot cocoa mix, Better World Brownie Mix, and Just Cocoa premium cocoa powder). Drew and his wife Nichole have launched a Community Supported Chocolate program in which shareholders will receive monthly selections of craft chocolate and goodies.  A variety of share levels are available and proceeds from the campaign will go towards the purchase of equipment that will enable Just Good Chocolate to become the first Northern Michigan bean to bar craft chocolate maker.  More info on their CSC program can be found here which sure seems like it would make an excellent holiday gift.

Batting cleanup in our lineup of presentations tonight was ALAP founder/member Bruce Odom. Bruce announced that after years on the drawing board, his plans to expand the Odom Reuse footprint to a second location are now fully underway.  Store #2 for Odom Reuse will be at a still-to-be-determined site in Emmet County, and the focus of his expansion will remain used building materials.  Bruce hopes to establish a site and crew for the new location by next Spring and aims to fund the expansion with both traditional and alternative local capital.  To learn more, connect with Bruce at reusebruce@charter.net.

We wrapped up our meeting with a reminder that our next get together is a group social/biz meeting to kick off the New Year on Thursday, January 9 (6-8pm at MLUI).  Rolf shot out a link to a Portland-based local investing group (link here) worth checking out and Shauna told us to watch out for a new, Bob Russell-inspired, local resilience book reading effort that will also launch soon.   One of the books will be Michael Shuman’s Local Dollars, Local Sense, so keep an eye out for that.  

It certainly feels like our momentum is building and our impact is growing.  Thanks again to MLUI for the generous provision of meeting space and thanks to all of you for a wonderful year. 2014 promises to be even better!

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