Sustaining Technologies is a worker-owned and cooperatively managed (one owner = one vote) LLC. We provide effective tools to harness the power of local money and the economic multiplier for communities that are building vibrant and resilient local economies.
The founders of Sustaining Technologies helped create and develop the Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative network.
Our experience with Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative has given us a deep understanding of the challenges inherent in building a successful network. We support entrepreneurs pioneering the development of these networks, coaching them and using our tools for realizing systemic economic change in their communities.
Terry Garrett has an extensive media and publishing background, and has been on the economic development marketing scene since 2004- consulting with BALLE National on their early marketing campaigns. Terry has been developing the marketing network that is GO LOCAL within Sonoma County and the North Bay. He also has many years of experience in organizational development, bringing to the table many tools and processes to make networks more efficient and successful. Terry is a Co-Managing Member of Sustaining Technologies, and is currently serving as co-manager for Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative.
Reavis Sutphin-Gray began programming as a hobby in junior high school. He graduated from Pomona College in 2005 with a B.A. in computer science. Since then, he has worked in electronics and as an independent contractor engineering biotech software and systems. Reavis strives for efficiency and reliability both when developing algorithms and when mapping out the role of technological components in complex systems.
Recently, Reavis has leveraged his extensive background and education in traditional imperative, functional, and object-oriented programming methodologies to become adept at agile web application development. He sees Ruby on Rails and Django as powerful tools that enable small teams to create outstanding software through rapid iteration paired with extensive automated testing and static analysis. Reavis is the Lead Software Developer and Co-Managing Member of Sustaining Technologies.
Philip Beard, Ph.D., emeritus professor of German at Sonoma State University, co-designed and from 2000 to 2005 co-coordinated the Global Studies B.A. program there. His interest in complementary economics stems from his extensive study of the roots of violent behavior. Since the early 1990’s, Dr. Beard has collaborated on various projects aiming to design and implement robust, sustainable mutual credit programs at the regional level. Dr. Beard is a Partner of Sustaining Technologies, co-founder of the Sonoma County GO LOCAL Cooperative and currently serves on the cooperative’s board of directors.
Manager (though not a worker-owner) of Sustaining Technologies, LLC, and Director of Sonoma County GO LOCAL.
Building on the relocalization framework and leveraging the existing networks of BALLE and AMIBA, Sustaining Technologies has developed a strategy, organizational tools, and technology for growing strong networks from the ground up that will serve as the economic hubs of their communities. We see four distinct implementation stages for relocalization networks that build on one another to create a holistic community economic system. Each stage is explained in more detail below.
Ongoing Organizational Development to Increase Capacity
Every organization, whether non-profit or for-profit, needs four primary elements in order to succeed: a plan, a marketing strategy, people, and money.
While BALLE and AMIBA provide member networks with a solid ideological framework, the specific tools to build a strong organization isn’t included in member services. An organization, no matter how passionate its members, needs well-defined management practices and effective managers guiding the organization. ST has developed organizational tools to help localization networks become high-achievers by converting good intentions into actual results.
We advocate creating heterarchical organizations with decision making ability coordinated with multiple stakeholders. We see this focus on “organizational intelligence” as an important shift from the hierarchal management model common to most organizations. The belief among the organization development community is this innovative approach will make both the individual networks and the movement more successful and enduring.
Local First and Our Community Web Platform
A “Local First” campaign is the core of any effective localization effort. BALLE and AMIBA have contributed much to this effort and have provided excellent ideas and best practices. ST builds on their work. By promoting a positive vision, networks engage the community to harness the economic multiplier and begin reclaiming local economic power. Like any marketing strategy, successful local first campaigns include . . .
- Rational appeal - Provide a rational argument (backing claims with solid research) for why localization enhances quality of life.
- Emotional appeal - Engage the community in fun and creative ways, making it socially and emotionally appealing to participate.
- Clear Path - Outline a series of easy steps that community members can take to participate in the shift. A rewards card, for example, is an easy-to-use, engaging tool that incentivizes people to “go local first”.
ST provides model operating procedures for implementing effective local first programs that can be tailored to a community’s needs. We also provide a community web platform that is integrated into our operational procedures, and serves as the local first online hub for the network. Included features are . . .
- Business Directory- A searchable and interactive directory with “micro-sites” for local businesses and non-profit organizations. Micro-sites include location mapping, email and website links, business description, hours of operation, photos, videos, ratings, reviews, and rewards card data. Businesses and organizations get access to an easy, do-it-yourself interface allowing them to easily manage their micro-site and rewards card offers, plus view transaction activity on a dashboard similar to Google Analytics.
- Stories- An intuitive module for creating, publishing, organizing, and displaying web content in a news format including videos, photos and audio. Utilizing “stories” effectively, networks can create websites that become the go-to resource for community information and news.
- Events- Categorized and searchable, our events module allows users to post community events and easily find things to do in the community. Networks can highlight specific events using the “special pick” designation.
- Content Tagging- Business micro-sites, stories, and events can all be connected and consolidated through tagging. This allows content to be organized and displayed in an unlimited number of ways, making websites very dynamic. A powerful example is creating neighborhood home pages by assigning a neighborhood designation to related stories, events, and businesses.
- Contest module- set up contests that has built-in registration forms and maintains a database of contest registrants. Formatted and designed to display all the pertinent and required information for a contest.
- Mobile Templates—With nearly one-third of mobile phone users regularly accessing their smart phone utility for finding what they need on the go, we’ve deployed mobile templates that work across all formats. Users can find nearby rewards and businesses displayed closest to them, where ever they are, with one-click direct dial to phone numbers displayed and instant mapping.
Community Investment & Cooperative Business Development
Formalizing trade relationships into an exchange system is key in creating a secure, resilient local economy. But to solidify continued economic development in communities, local investment and business development programs should also be created. This allows trade to be enhanced by identifying and filling “value gaps” with locally financed and community-owned enterprises.
Sustaining Technologies, working closely with Katovich Law Group, has developed an innovative “community cooperative” structure that allows members to invest equity capital in a co-op that is used to build new or enhance existing local enterprises to meet the needs of the community. The GO LOCAL Cooperative is just such a co-op. In addition, we are working on a “stakeholder cooperative” model where control of and benefit from an enterprise can be effectively balanced between all of the connected parties (see example below).
“We are here to support the pioneers developing BALLE networks with tools that can help create true systemic economic change in communities.”