Rust Belt Remix: The Role of Business in a Boarded-Up City

[spb_text_block pb_margin_bottom=”no” pb_border_bottom=”no” width=”2/3″ el_position=”first”]

Pinchot’s 2014 Summer Study Tour took Pinchot students, alumni and faculty to America’s “Rust Belt”. The group visited Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit to explore sustainable business opportunities at these significant sites of industrial success, decline and rebirth. In this series of blogs, participants share revelations and reactions along their journey.

[hr]

Nothing prepared us for Detroit.

Don’t get me wrong – during our tour of the Rust Belt, we definitely saw examples of blight in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. But even after five days in those cities I was not prepared for Detroit’s mass vacancy and abandonment. It seemed to go on for miles.

Urban Blight in Detroit

Urban Blight in Detroit

As we drove deeper into the city the bus grew quieter and quieter as we all tried to process what we were seeing. We passed by whole city blocks of abandoned buildings: homes, schools, hospitals, medical facilities, even a massive railroad station left standing as an eerie reminder of what the city once was.

Our conversations on the trip have now changed. We started in Pittsburgh looking at great organizations doing amazing work – start-up incubators attracting young entrepreneurs, foundations engaging the community to rebuild an entire neighborhood using the newest green technologies, and on and on. We noted how these organizations are creating positive change by leveraging many of the concepts we speak about in our MBA in Sustainable Business courses at BGI. Now, however, we have entered new territory.

Sustainable Business in Detroit?

Sustainable Business in Detroit?

Detroit is challenging our assumptions about the role of sustainable business. Even as a seasoned world traveler, I’m realizing that the world is much more complex than I ever knew. We talk often about world issues such as global warming and access to water, but there are people in our own country that can’t even begin to think about these problems because of the terrible environment in which they live. Worse yet, they are not, in any way, at fault for the situations around them. There is a greater economic system that failed them. Their businesses, their employers, their city, their government and, more importantly, the system failed them.

At BGI, we speak of the role that business plays and the need to create a system that addresses the needs of people, planet and profit. But what do you do when the system has failed an entire city? This experience has forced me to redefine the role of businesses in a community. Beyond taking care of employees, businesses must take care of their neighbors and their community as a whole.

[/spb_text_block] [boxed_content type=”coloured” custom_bg_colour=”#009fdf” pb_margin_bottom=”no” width=”1/3″ el_position=”last”]

MBA the Change

Are you ready to rebuild the economy – sustainably? Join this year’s cohort of MBA students at BGI at Pinchot and start to transform your future.

BGI-About-Slider-2014-03-28

[sf_button colour=”white” type=”sf-icon-reveal” size=”standard” link=”http://bgi.pinchot.edu/business-for-good/” target=”_self” icon=”ss-navigateright” dropshadow=”no” extraclass=”ml0″]LEARN MORE[/sf_button]

[/boxed_content] [blank_spacer height=”30px” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”] [boxed_content title=”about the author” type=”whitestroke” pb_margin_bottom=”no” width=”2/3″ el_position=”first last”]

MeghanMeghan Metz is currently completing her MBA in Sustainable Business through BGI at Pinchot. Meghan has worked at Starbucks Coffee Company for over ten years in various parts of the organization and is currently responsible for designing and building eLearning curriculum as a learning specialist. Meghan is a native Seattleite and received her BA from the University of Washington in Political Science and International Studies: Comparative Religion.

[/boxed_content]

Latest News

environmental innovation
Kumar and McNulty Accepted to 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge

Please join us in congratulating current students Srirup Kumar and Joe McNulty on being accepted to compete in the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC) at the University of Washington! This project challenges Washington students to “define an environmental problem, develop a solution, design and build a prototype, create a business plan that proves

Read More

Flag_of_Cuba
Spots For Cuba Study Abroad Trip Still Available

We still have 5 slots available in the Cuba Study Abroad trip this summer (August 1st-8th). To reserve your spot, please make your $500 deposit here: https://secure.qgiv.com/for/bainbridge2/event/464867/ More info here: We will be traveling with Cross Cultural Journeys. This travel organization is now headed up by Cilla Utne, a Cohort 4 alumni. The trip will cost

Read More

OSR heads to Fielding University

            Our friends and colleagues at Organizational Systems Renewal (OSR) have found a new home. After a rigorous search over several months, OSR will be joining Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA. Their program will be integrated into the Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Leadership (MA-ODL) program at FGU.

Read More

Pinchot Blog

Voices of New Economies – Internet Freedom, Rainbow Looms and New Economies
March 19th, 2015 - Lauren Lark

By Alexa Pitoulis What are some key elements of “new economies”? • Rethinking what we value and how we measure success. What does success look and feel like at all levels of the economy? To answer this question we must be willing to redefine wealth and move beyond what our current economic systems value as indicators of

Read More

A Users’ Guide to the Afterlife of Fashion: The Story of Fiber Recycling in Seattle
March 12th, 2015 - Lauren Lark

Seattle is a city where recycled fashion is the definition of cool. Don’t’ believe me? Just ask Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The trend not only looks hip, it’s doing the planet a huge favor by diverting thousands of articles of clothing away from the waste stream and into our closets. This year, the city of

Read More

Rustbelt Remix: Greetings from Ohio!
March 5th, 2015 - Lauren Lark

  From a distance, the city skyline shimmers in the sunlight from the heat rising off the asphalt and the exhaust fumes belching from cars traveling on I-90. There is something oddly familiar about Cleveland, as if it were a larger Milwaukee or a mini-Chicago. However, this city is different; it has its own storied

Read More

Luni Libes: A Realistic View of the Startup “Hockey Stick”
March 5th, 2015 - Lauren Lark

Ah… the proverbial hockey stick in a startup’s financial projections.  No one believes it, and yet it must be included in any investor pitch. Why? Two reasons. First and foremost, investors are looking for big opportunities, and if the revenue forecasts grow exponentially, that serves as a proxy to claim a large opportunity exists. Second,

Read More

Social Media