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.


Climate Solutions

Climate Solutions

By Peter Barnes

Millions of Americans are demanding that all levels of government—local, state, and federal—take immediate and effective action to fight climate change. But there’s a big problem. Hundreds of policy ideas are floating about, and many of them aren’t very good. It’s quite possible that bad climate policy will result, and that many years will then be lost before real emission reductions occur.

We can’t afford to let that happen. That’s why this citizen’s guide is so important. It explains in clear and simple language what different climate policies will do—and what they won’t do. It tells you who’s behind the policies, who’d pay for them, and who’d profit. It strips away the spin and tells you the key facts you need to know.

In a very real sense, this guide ushers in the next stage of the global-warming debate. In the first stage, we discussed the problem. In the next stage, we must choose solutions. Should we adopt a carbon tax? A carbon cap? A trading system that allows companies to “offset” their emissions by paying others to plant trees?

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From tainted pet food to toxic toys, Americans can thank the successful lobbying efforts of the U.S. chemical industry for the secret ingredients in everyday products that have been linked to rising rates of infertility, endocrine system disruptions, neurological disorders, and cancer.

While the U.S. Congress stalls in the face of these dangers, the European Union has chosen to act. Strict consumer-safety regulations have forced multinationals to manufacture safer products for European consumers, while lower U.S. standards allow them to continue selling unsafe products to Americans. Schapiro's exposé shows that short of strong government action, the United States will lose not only its ability to protect citizens from environmental hazards but also, as economic priorities shift, whatever claim it has to commercial supremacy. Increasingly, products on American shelves are equated with serious health hazards, hazards that the European Union is legislating out of existence in its powerful trading bloc, a lead that even China is beginning to follow. Schapiro illustrates how the blowback from weak regulation at home carries a steep economic, as well as environmental, price.

In Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power, investigative journalist Mark Schapiro takes the reader to the front lines of global corporate and political power, where tectonic battles are being waged that will determine the physical and economic health of our children and ourselves.

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There has never been a better time to be making and selling great cheese. People worldwide are consuming more high-quality, handmade cheese than ever before. The number of artisan cheesemakers has doubled in recent years, and many of the industry’s newcomers are “farmstead” producers–those who work only with the milk of their own animals. Today, more than ever before, the people who choose to become farmer-cheesemakers need access to the knowledge of established cheese artisans who can help them build their dream.

Few career choices lead to such extremes of labor, emotion, and monetary challenge. In The Small-Scale Cheese Business (originally published in 2010 as The Farmstead Creamery Advisor), respected cheesemaker, instructor, and speaker Gianaclis Caldwell walks would-be producers through the many, and often confusing, steps and decisions they will face when considering a career in this burgeoning cottage industry. This book fills the gap that exists between the pasture and cheese plate. It goes far beyond issues of caring for livestock and basic cheesemaking, explaining business issues such as:

    * Analyzing your suitability for the career;
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At the heart of this monumental transition lies the changing nature of not-for-profit (NFP) organizations. Contrary to popular notions of non-profit inefficiency, unaccountability, and dependence on donors, the 21st century NFP is proving highly efficient, transparent, and increasingly self-funded.

Distinguishing themselves from B corps and ethical/green shareholder companies by always reinvesting rather than privatizing profits, NFP enterprises around the world are proliferating and succeeding in areas as diverse as construction, manufacturing, software development, food catering, and retail. In a process described by Jeremy Rifkin as ‘the eclipse of capitalism’, many NFP enterprises (including various forms of cooperatives, community interest companies, government-owned corporations, and social businesses) are now outperforming their for-profit counterparts, driven by marked advantages in terms of finance, human resources, productivity, innovation, governance, environmental outcomes, value creation and market reputation. Simultaneously, NFP enterprises are increasingly curbing the excesses that have traditionally been associated with the charitable sector.

Moving beyond the market/state dichotomy, the NFP model finally aligns our economy with the social values that modern science and ancient wisdom agree are central to our shared prosperity. With wealth recirculating through a purpose-driven system, the emerging NFP world economy is better able to serve people and planet, while retaining market dynamics and requiring less taxation and government bureaucracy in the process.

A groundbreaking contribution to economic theory, How on Earth presents the world’s first practical blueprint for the transition to a fairer, thriving economy that offers quality of life for all while respecting our ecological limits.

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