A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

Re>Think Local: The Importance of Business Policy Activism

by Ajax Greene   

Last spring I went to Albany with some fellow members of the New York State Sustainable Council to lobby on behalf of New York State businesses. This particular day we were focused on chemical safety —specifically regulating those used in children’s products and fracking waste water. The legislature was in session, so we spent the day going from office to office for preset appointments with staffers from some of the most conservative legislators in New York. We were amazed at how positive a reception we received when they found out that we represented an organized business community.

So what is the New York State Sustainable Business Council?

To explain the NYSSBC, first we begin with the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), a national organization based in New York City and Washington, DC. For too long the sole voice of American business had come from far-right organizations that hardly represented the complete spectrum of policy points of view. Now the ASBC gives voice to hundreds of thousands of business members from every state that have a more progressive view of our collective economic future.

ASBC works on a wide range of issues related to sustainability in business and in the economy:
• Corporations
• Elections integrity
• Financial markets
• Food and agriculture
• Good workplace practices
• Healthcare
• Regulations
• Safer chemicals
• Sustainable economics
• Taxes
• Trade
• Worker ownership

The NYSSBC is our statewide network, working on issues relevant to New York. It’s an emerging alliance of business organizations and individual businesses committed to advancing a vibrant, just, and sustainable economy in New York State through public policy activism and action.

Why does this matter? It’s hard to know the exact equation—and it’s sad to say—but when business owners meet with elected officials, their voice carries significantly more weight than individual citizens not representing a business.

One of the business owners with us was Ralph Erenzo, co-owner of Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner. In almost every way, Tuthilltown optimizes what Re>Think Local sees as an optimal Hudson Valley business: locally owned and operated, uses locally grown inputs, exports its products globally, a deep commitment to reducing their environmental impact, all with a homegrown staff of over 40. Ralph, in his heart, truly believes fracking waste water is a threat to his livelihood and that of all his employees.

If you’re a business owner interested in making a positive difference in your community and your state, we have a way to get you involved.

On November 6, Re>Think Local will partner with the NYSSBC to host a Regional Congress right here in the Hudson Valley, at Beahive in Beacon. Come hear Ralph make the business case, the ROI, of policy activism. As of press time, we are confirming a New York State Senator (who happens to be a former business owner). Come learn and participate in setting the policy agenda for the organization. Make your voice heard.

Many business owners feel too busy to engage in policy activism—or since they have never done it before, they’re unsure how. The Regional Congress is meant to help with that. But truth be told it’s your values that matter; if you can express what matters to you, you belong.

Re>Think Local is a member of NYSSBC (along with many other progressive business groups from throughout the state), so if you are a Re>Think member you are automatically a member of NYSSBC.

Can you devote one day a year to support your values? Our annual lobby day in Albany is easy. We set up the appointments, we carpool together, we provide bulleted talking points, and you simply share your values, and why it is important to your business. And best of all, it’s fun, it’s important, and it’s highly effective.

Most environmental groups I speak with acknowledge that we will never truly “save” the environment unless we fundamentally reinvent our economy. Buying local and being a triple bottom line business are an incredible start. Participating as a business in policy activism is an important and logical next step in creating the world we want.

With your help Re>Think Local and the New York Sustainable Business Council are working for a better Hudson Valley and a better New York State.