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.


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