Chelsea Green Publishing

Living above the Store

eBook: 9781603582179
Pub. Date May 07, 2009

Living above the Store

Building a Business That Creates Value, Inspires Change, and Restores Land and Community

By Martin Melaver
Foreword by Ray Anderson

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 07, 2009

$27.95 $22.36

The economic crash of late 2008 is just the latest evidence of the truth that many have known for so long: that too much of our modern economy is based on a house of cards. We need businesses that not only factor their impact on people and places into their equations for success but also strive to restore the communities and environments in which they operate. How can this be done?

In Living Above the Store, Martin Melaver provides a roadmap for creating such a business. It's not only a "how to" but a "why to" that challenges business as usual to change.

Living Above the Store brings us into the story of Melaver, Inc., a third-generation, 70-year-old family real estate business, as it evolves toward becoming a thought and product leader in sustainable business practices. It is part business management theory and part case study, where sustainable principles meet sustainable practices, always grounded in day-to-day practice.

Living Above the Store demonstrates how to:

  • Adopt a business model that provides for economic success while contributing to society and the environment
  • Shape a business culture that is restorative to a workforce by helping employees realize their highest potential
  • Leverage an ethos within a business that "ripples outward" to foster restoration of both land and community
  • Embrace a notion of limits to growth
  • Reframe ideas about competition, proprietary knowledge, and business success,

Living Above the Store is for readers who care about issues of community and sustainability as well as for those who want to learn more about how a socially responsible business can first redefine, and then find, success.


"How would a business operate if people and values mattered as much as profit? Melaver's exploration of this question is so compelling not because he knows, but because he is so frank about his quest to find out."--Nadav Malin, President, BuildingGreen, LLC

"Living Above the Store breaks the mold on business writing. This is a tale of three generations of the Melaver family, the purported end of the world, and the true nature of enterprise. It is a book about the greening of business to be sure, but it is literature first, brilliant disquisitions and narratives that place commerce within the broader context of history, culture, and the cherished human values that bind us together. Martin Melaver has enlarged the vocabulary of commerce and restored it to a place of honor, a timely gift in an era of disillusionment. You may put it down to absorb what has been written, but you will not forget the stories of courage, the humility of reflection or the import of what has been said, and you will want to read it straight through to the end."--Paul Hawken, author of The Ecology of Commerce

"Living Above the Store is the right book for these difficult times, when business needs to regain trust. Melaver starts with specific stories of running a family business, sharing successes and failures, frustrations and joys, and then broadens out to illuminate general principles for running a sustainable business. These stories still stick in my mind, long after I have put the book away."--Marc Gunther, contributing editor, Fortune

"At long last, a visionary work that reminds us what businesses once were, and can once again be. Martin Melaver has shared with us the story of his remarkable real estate company, eloquently teaching us how to run a business that is not solely about making a buck, but about building a sustainable society. Mandatory reading for leaders from all sectors--business, NGOs and government--who believe that our work should make the world a healthier, kinder and more prosperous place."--Eilon Schwartz Director, The Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership, Tel Aviv

"There is a third century teaching that says, 'Do not separate yourself from the community.' Commentators since have interpreted this to mean that even if one can accomplish more alone, distancing oneself weakens the entire community. The unique contributions of every individual are critical to the dialogue and discussion which nourish the community. Martin Melaver offers his own commentary on the building and sustaining of community. Each chapter is multi-layered and engaging. Not only does Melaver aspire to connect his actions to a vision of 'building a business that creates value, inspires change, and restores land and community,' but he inspires others to do so as well."--Rabbi Nina J. Mizrahi, Director, Pritzker Center for Jewish Education, Jewish Community Centers of Chicago

"The most sustainably growing family business leaders, I find, are philosophers of management. Living Above the Store is a compelling example. Further, it is a wonderful story built on wonderful stories. All business leaders will be inspired by the power of connecting driving values with convincing stories."--John L. Ward, Clinical Professor, Kellogg School of Management and Principal, The Family Business Consulting Group

"Martin describes the evolution of his ideas and practices with refreshing candor and humility. He is a role model for me, my students, and anyone interested in building a values-based, sustainable business."--John Vogel, Adjunct Professor, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

"A truly superb work, Living Above the Store has challenged my thinking about management, and Southface will be a better organization as a result. Martin Melaver is smart and articulate, and has the courage to be honest. Creating a sustainable economy requires a transformational shift in the thinking of business. Melaver embraces this challenge and his book is a compass not only for businesses, large and small, but also for government, non-profits, and even individuals."--Dennis Creech, Executive Director, Southface Energy Institute

"Engaging and informative, Living Above the Store is a story of remarkable change through Martin Melaver's thoughtful, collaborative dialogue of discovery with his family, colleagues and community. He challenges conventional tenets and offers a business plan utilizing diversity, shared values, common purpose and a land-community ethic that is restorative for humankind and nature. Living Above the Store is for readers interested in realizing a business' highest potential and regaining a more authentic sense of themselves or for anyone wanting to develop a life plan for the 21st century."--Bob Berkebile, BNIM Architects

"This is a heartwarming and inspiring story of how business ought to be conducted at the intersection of community, common sense, and caring."--David Orr, author of Design on the Edge and Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College

"Martin Melaver's beautiful retelling of his family and business experience provides valuable professional management directions for realizing ethically based business practices that are crucial to our society's health. General readers will also be inspired by the author's advice, personal journey, and approaches to the challenges he's taken on."--Michael Singer, artist/designer

"Martin Melaver has expressed the deepest aspirations of what it means to be a developer. He's done so in the most purposeful and important sense of the word--to create added value and new potential in the whole system of life. If all developers can work towards achieving this purpose we actually have a shot at what's required of us to achieve a sustainable and thriving condition."--Bill Reed, Principal, Integrative Design


Martin Melaver

Martin Melaver has been CEO of Melaver, Inc., since 1992. Never content with the welltrod path, he has a PhD in literature from Harvard University and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He is actively involved with numerous community organizations in and around Savannah, Georgia. Melaver splits his time between Savannah and Tel Aviv, Israel.




By Thomas Greco

Cash. Loot. Scratch. Lucre. Bread. Coin. Scrip. Moolah. Green. We all think we know intuitively what money is, and what it can do for us. Tom Greco, director of the Community Information Resource Center, understands and explains money on an eye-popping, fundamental level. Moreover, he provides a roadmap on how to make alternatives to the "legal tender" work for individuals, communities, and local economies.

Money will set your mental gears spinning with fantastic ideas. This book explains the mysteries and realities of money in clear and accessible prose, and reveals the true workings, and alarming fragility, of our existing financial system. It also describes concrete and realistic actions that individuals, businesses, social service agencies, and governments can take to enhance productivity and purchasing power, to protect local economies from the ravages of globalization, and to strengthen the bonds of community.

Money is a radical critique of our existing financial system, but also a practical and inspirational how-to manual for creating a vibrant and effective community currency system.
You'll learn:

  • The truth about how money is created, and what it actually represents
  • Why we're all in debt
  • How the financial system is structured to inevitably transfer wealth from the poor to the rich
  • How to start a financial revolution in your local community

A retired professor of business and economics, Tom Greco has spent twenty years studying community currency systems around the world, including historical models (such as during the Great Depression), and the scores of contemporary examples now operating in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. He helped establish the Tucson Traders currency in Arizona, and he has served as a consultant for many others. No pie-in-the-sky idealist, Greco offers a realistic vision of how healthy local economies can be supplemented with flourishing community currencies.

Anyone who works routinely with money needs this book--this means bankers, stockbrokers, merchants, community organizers, loan sharks, gamblers, investors, bank robbers, hedgefund operators, sports agents, and ordinary people.


Available in: eBook

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Thomas Greco, Vicki Robin, Karen Kerney

eBook $25.00

The Art of Leading Collectively

The Art of Leading Collectively

By Petra Kuenkel

A guide to collaborative impact for leaders in industry, government, and social change networks

Our world is facing unsustainable global trends—from climate change and water scarcity to energy insecurity, unfair labor practices, and growing inequality.  Tackling these crises effectively requires a new form of leadership—a collective one.  But, in a world of many silos, how do we get people to work together toward a common goal? That is one of the most important questions facing sustainability and social-change professionals around the world, and it is a question that Petra Kuenkel answers in The Art of Leading Collectively.

Readers learn how to tackle system change for sustainable development, reimagine leadership as a collaborative endeavor, retrain leaders to work collectively, and manage diverse groups through a change process that has sustainability as a guiding focus. Drawing upon two decades of pioneering, internationally recognized work orchestrating multi-stakeholder initiatives, Kuenkel presents her chief tool, the Collective Leadership Compass, and shows others how to use it with large groups of diverse stakeholders to solve complex, urgent problems—particularly those that enmesh business activities, governance, human needs, and environmental impacts.

The book offers many examples of collective leadership efforts involving corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors around the world.  Readers learn about the processes that led to a sustainable textile alliance, advanced global seafood sustainability, and set standards for sustainable cocoa and coffee production and trade, as well as those that helped nations rebound from war, develop sustainable infrastructure, and tackle resource conflicts with global businesses, to name a few.

Kuenkel provides a clear roadmap for leaders from multinational companies involved in partnerships, international organizations engaged in cooperative development, public agencies, and interest groups—as well as for citizens seeking solutions to social and sustainability challenges.

Available in: Hardcover

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The Art of Leading Collectively

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Petra Kuenkel

Hardcover $29.95

The Local Economy Solution

The Local Economy Solution

By Michael Shuman

Reinventing economic development as if small business mattered

In cities and towns across the nation, economic development is at a crossroads. A growing body of evidence has proven that its current cornerstone—incentives to attract and retain large, globally mobile businesses—is a dead end. Even those programs that focus on local business, through buy-local initiatives, for example, depend on ongoing support from government or philanthropy. The entire practice of economic development has become ineffective and unaffordable and is in need of a makeover.

The Local Economy Solution suggests an alternative approach in which states and cities nurture a new generation of enterprises that help local businesses launch and grow. These cutting-edge companies, which Shuman calls “pollinator businesses,” are creating jobs and the conditions for future economic growth, and doing so in self-financing ways.

Pollinator businesses are especially important to communities that are struggling to lift themselves up in a period of economic austerity, when municipal budgets are being slashed. They also promote locally owned businesses that increase local self-reliance and evince high labor and environmental standards.

The book includes nearly two dozen case studies of successful pollinator businesses—in the United States and abroad—that are creatively facilitating business and neighborhood improvements, entrepreneurship, local purchasing, local investing, and profitable business partnerships. Examples include Main Street Genome (which provides invaluable data to improve local business performance), Supportland (which is developing a powerful loyalty card for local businesses), and Fledge (a business accelerator that finances itself through royalty payments). It also shows how the right kinds of public policy can encourage the spread of pollinator businesses at virtually no cost.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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The Local Economy Solution

Michael Shuman

Paperback $19.95

The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook & Business Advice for Organic Farmers with Richard Wiswall (Book & DVD Bundle)

The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook & Business Advice for Organic Farmers with Richard Wiswall (Book & DVD Bundle)

By Richard Wiswall

Contrary to popular belief, a good living can be made on an organic farm. What's required is farming smarter, not harder.

In this book and DVD set longtime farmer Richard Wiswall shares his story, and offers detailed advice on how to make your farm production more efficient, better manage your employees and finances, and turn a profit. 

From his twenty-seven years of experience at Cate Farm in Vermont, Wiswall knows firsthand the joys of starting and operating an organic farm—as well as the challenges of making a living from one. Farming offers fundamental satisfaction from producing food, working outdoors, being one's own boss, and working intimately with nature. But, unfortunately, many farmers avoid learning about the business end of farming, and because of this, they often work harder than they need to, or quit farming altogether because of frustrating—and often avoidable—losses. 

The DVD consists of a filmed workshop and interview, recorded at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Winter Conference in 2010 and at Wiswall's Cate Farm. This workshop offers invaluable exercises for business-savvy farmers, including information on the costs of running a farm, office and bookkeeping management, creating a budget and crop enterprise plan, and getting down the the nuts and bolts of business management, that's easy to understand. Through in-the-classroom footage and step-by-step guidance to "sharpening the pencil", as well as footage of Wiswall's fields, greenhouse, and barn, viewers will leave this "workshop" knowing how to achieve true profit, that will last for years to come. Also included is a bonus disc with downloadable spreadsheets for creating your own budget, marketing, profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow.

Wiswall's book, The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook (Chelsea Green, 2009), offers more on all of this information, as well as a comprehensive business kit including:

  •     Step-by-step procedures to make your crop production more efficient
  •     Advice on managing employees, farm operations, and office systems
  •     Novel marketing strategies
  •     What to do with your profits: business spending, investing, and planning for retirement

A companion CD in the book also offers valuable business tools, including easy-to-use spreadsheets for projecting cash flow, a payroll calculator, comprehensive crop budgets for forty different crops, and tax planners.


Available in: Mixed media product

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The Organic Farmer's Business Handbook & Business Advice for Organic Farmers with Richard Wiswall (Book & DVD Bundle)

Richard Wiswall

Mixed media product $49.95