My time with UnreasonableAtSea and sailing in conjunction with the students and life-long learners of Semester at Sea (SAS) ship has renewed my passion for solving some of the big challenges that face people in the U.S., as well as in the developing world. Clean water, ocean ecology, carbon sequestration, affordable medical devices and teacher training in developing regions, affordable hearing aids and clean cook stoves. These are just a few of the hairy problems that the Unreasonable entrepreneurs are eating for lunch, and with passion.
The experience, of course, has given me the opportunity to explore some of the big challenges and tap into my passion for addressing them. Not surprisingly, that’s directing my reading today, a “study day,” on ship.
I am a devote to fresh, local food. In fact, we do 90% of our grocery shopping at farmers’ markets, buying directly from the growers and producers. It is never lost on me that I live in Northern California where the growing season is long and the distance between our farms and cities is relatively short. Eating healthy farm-fresh food is a lot harder when you live in the North East, for example. Perhaps, though, not as difficult as it used to be, at least in Philadelphia, thanks to the work of Brianna Almaguer Sandoval and The Food Trust. Sandoval has driven the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative to make selling fresh, healthy foods in neighborhood stores an attractive, affordable, and profitable endeavor.
On many occassions, I describe myself as “just a small town girl from Pennsylvania.” My hometown, Scottdale, is a community of good-hearted, hard working folks whose economic fortunes rose and fell on the steel industry, the auto industry, the consumer electronics industry and any other industry that moved into the big manufacturing plant out the outskirts of town. In my Quixotic moments, I imagine converting an virtually abandoned downtown property into a startup lab to catalyze new business in the region. I was excited, then, to read the latest from Keystone Edge, one of Pennsylvania’s economic development initiatives, that is tracking co-working spaces and the impact entrepreneurship is having on smaller communities throughout the state. The startup spirit extends beyond the Keystone State, however. Entrepreneur is “virtually” touring small town America in search of communities where the startup spirit flurishes. It’s very cool to see entrepreneurship used as a tool to create meaningful economic change in these struggling communities.