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

austin atteberry
The Sing Me A Story Foundation Featured by The Today Show

  Pinchot Alumni, Austin Atteberry ‘13, founded The Sing Me A Story Foundation in May of 2011 as a means to support sick and disadvantaged children by transforming their authentic voice into a song. After four years and hundreds of songs and children, the Sing Me A Story Foundation has blossomed into an organization that

Read More

the-new-york-times logo
Pinchot Alums Featured in the New York Times

The Kanter family has been doing “business for good” for over 40 years; since 1974, Cambridge Naturals, their family owned community natural health store has provided the best choices in nutritional supplements for health and wellness, clean body care products and organic foods.” Last week, the New York Times highlighted this rich story of health,

Read More

PSenge2_3292
Peter Senge Named 2015 Graduation Speaker

Please join us in our excitement as we announce Peter Senge as our 2105 Commencement speaker!   Senge comes to Pinchot from MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is a senior lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability. Also through MIT, he is the founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning, an organization that guides

Read More

Pinchot Blog

Crowdsourcing Intellectual Inspiration
May 26th, 2015 - Selena Ligrano

Over the course of my first year at Pinchot University I have been exposed to so many books, articles, websites and videos on the course pages and through talking to my fellow classmates, professors and the alumni community. The amount of knowledge in our community is amazing and the resources available to us are extraordinary

Read More

Pinchot Community Publications
May 21st, 2015 - Lauren Lark

Pinchot faculty and students are finding their way into print this spring! Congratulations to Pinchot faculty Marsha Willard (along with Pinchot faculty emeritus Darcy Hitchcock and a team of 21 Pinchot alumni!), Jeff Leinaweaver, and Jimmy Jia.   The Business Guide to Sustainability: Practical Strategies and Tools for Organizations By Marsha Willard & Darcy Hitchcock;

Read More

We Shall Overcome by Finding Meaning
May 21st, 2015 - Reiner Lomb

This post was originally published on May 20, 2015 in the Huff Post. I will never forget the image of my father’s body lying peacefully in his casket. His face was pale and the remaining hair on his head was snow white. I could still feel the presence of his spirit, a spirit that carried him

Read More

Why I love Give BIG SO MUCH!
May 12th, 2015 - Mona Das

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love Give BIG.  Every year, without fail, I get overwhelmed with excitement about the event.  I usually stay up until midnight the night before so that I can be one of the 1st to donate: this year I was number four!   Why do I love GIVE BIG

Read More

Social Media