#228. Earthtrepreneurship

Posted on | The Agurban

Timothy Collins, assistant director of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Earthtrepreneurship. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it’s important to revitalizing the rural business-owning middle class that can sustain communities and provide new jobs.What is earthtrepreneurship? It’s a rural community growth opportunity in what so many pundits are calling the new green economy. Why use the term if it’s so difficult to say? It exactly describes the types of firms that savvy individualists can start to earn a living while respecting the earth and using its gifts to help others at home and abroad.

Rural sustainability needs to be built on an earthtrepreneurial middle class that understands how to create, use, and sell appropriate technologies and services at home and around the world. In some cases, this might well be social earthtrpepreneurship, dedicated to helping others through a nonprofit organization. But it might also involve ways of profitably, but responsibly nurturing and cultivating the earth’s natural heritage.

Earthtrepreneurship is based on respectful, earth-centered ingenuity. Earthtrepreneurs understand and love their own backyards. But they also understand that their ideas have markets elsewhere. They serve their communities, building sustainability at home. They also serve the world, building global sustainability.

The big question is how to develop and sustain earthtrepreneurship in rural communities. Research on entrepreneurial communities is helpful, but doesn’t go far enough. It suggests that successful entrepreneurs have their own skills and personalities, but their success also can be enhanced by support from their fellow entrepreneurs and other members of their communities. This is a long way from the rugged individualist myth of great American entrepreneurs.

Transforming community-supported entrepreneurship into earthtrepreneurship involves moving past the current green fad to a fundamental recognition of the connections between communities and the land. Rural communities, because of their size and local environment, are ideal places to move this process forward. Communities that develop a sustainability attitude – a close and considerate partnership between residents and the earth – can build a better future by supporting and encouraging green business owners.

Earthtrepreneurship can be a satisfying way for someone to create a green life’s work in the community for the world. It is far more than a job. It blends old-fashioned entrepreneurial independence with vision, confidence, and determination to preserve our ability to survive on earth.

Earthtrepreneurship moves beyond the creation of green-collar jobs. It harnesses local creativity among the self-employed who are idealistic and interested in improving the quality of life in their communities and elsewhere. With a world view that allows them to export their ideas, products and services, earthtrepreneurs also can attract new dollars to their communities.

To see this entire story, along with examples of earthtrepreneurs, visit here.

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