Presented by Local First Arizona, Mrs. Green’s World, and the YWCA of Southern Arizona, the forum features presentations from local business leaders and community organizers. Tucson’s Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild, introduces the forum, which welcomes Dr. Maribel Alvarez, Program Director of Tucson Meet Yourself, as the keynote speaker.
The event presents six forum tracks, each focusing on the improvement of a unique piece of Tucson and Arizona’s economy. The forum aims to bring together the public to learn how to support what’s working in Tucson to make us a community of greater shared prosperity and sustainability. Tracks run concurrently and attendees can attend as many as three tracks and join the event organizers and speakers afterwards for complimentary appetizers.
The Food, Soil, & Nature track discusses investing in local soil, produce, and how to maintain strong circulation of Arizona-grown foods. The panel features Chet Phillips of the University of Arizona’s Compost Cats speaking about the country’s only partnership that partners academic, tribal, city and private business resources to divert over 10 million pounds of organic waste from our landfills. Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona’s Farmers’ Market Manager, Kara Jones, will also speak on a unique program that bundles the products of multiple small farmers to fill institutional needs. Along with a panel of others in the community that are strengthening our local food businesses.
The forum’s Shared Ownership and Community Capital track highlights building economic models with a focus on worker ownership and the new Arizona law that sources local investment within the community. Chris Squires will talk about his experience with 1055 Brewing as the first Arizona company to make use of this new law. He will be joined on that panel by Kelly Watters, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Food Conspiracy Co-op, and Howard N. Stewart of AGM speaking on ESOPs - employee-owner programs that provides a company's workforce with ownership interest in the company.
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The third track on Innovation for Good talks about how the change we want to see is on our backs. As the third largest polluter worldwide, fast fashion fills our landfills, pollutes our environment and erodes economic security. Fed by Threads owner Alok Appadurai, speaks about his store that revives Made in America clothing that is both beautiful and sustainable. He is joined by Kristen Bloch, the Founder and President of Buffalo Exchange speaking about how she turned a sustainable model for secondhand clothing into a National brand, PopCycle Owner Jen Radler on her model of “upcycled” clothing, and Charlette Pedia, a lecturer at the University of Arizona’s John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences about the history of fashion and how we got here . Together they are presenting ways for entrepreneurs to improve and build Tucson’s economy through more ethical and sustainable clothing and manufacturing practices.
Murphy-Darling is overseeing the forum’s Health & Soul and Opportunity for All track. The Health and Soul track welcomes Executive Director of the Center for Compassion Studies Leslie Langbert, Cottonwood Rehab’s Susan Swan, and Shelley Whitlatch, Patient Wellness manager at El Rio Community Health Center and others, to speak about the use of health, soul, and mindfulness to bring entrepreneurs together in a way that fosters powerful community engagement.
The Opportunity for All track draws attention to how local businesses can build opportunities for historically oppressed communities. Abby Rosen, Sous Chef Instructor for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Dora Martinez and Tito Ramierz from Flowers and Bullets, and Barbara Eiswerth, founder of the Iskashitaa Refugee Network, are leading the discussion.
Local First Arizona founder and Executive Director Kimber Lanning closes the forum with the Localism and Localist Policies track. Lanning, the executive director and founder of Local First Arizona, was awarded the Citizen Leadership Award by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) for her extraordinary commitment in promoting economic development.She will be leading a presentation on how business owners can leverage their localness and how the community can advocate for policies that create a level playing field.
The forum is held at the YWCA of Southern Arizona, located at 525 N. Bonita Ave, and runs from 12:30 to 5:30pm. Don't miss your opportunity to be part of the conversations that are moving Tucson forward. Tickets can be purchased here. View the full forum program here.