Chelsea Green Publishing

Companies We Keep

Pages:352 pages
Book Art:Black and white photos
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603580007
Pub. Date November 08, 2008

Companies We Keep

Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, 2nd Edition

By John Abrams
Foreword by William Greider

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
November 08, 2008


Part memoir and part examination of a new business model, the 2005 release of The Company We Keep marked the debut of an important new voice in the literature of American business. Now, in Companies We Keep, the revised and expanded edition of his 2005 work, John Abrams further develops his idea that companies flourish when they become centers of interdependence, or “communities of enterprise.”

Thoroughly revised with an expanded focus on employee ownership and workplace democracy, Companies We Keep celebrates the idea that when employees share in the rewards as well as the responsibility for the decisions they make, better decisions result. This is an especially timely topic. Most of the baby boomer generation—the owners of millions of American businesses— will retire within the next two decades. In 2001, 50,000 businesses changed hands. In 2005, that number rose to 350,000. Projections call for 750,000 ownership transitions in 2009. Employee ownership—in both the philosophical and the practical sense—is gathering steam as businesses change hands, and Abrams examines some of the many ways this is done.

Companies We Keep is structured around eight principles—from “Sharing Ownership” and “Cultivating Workplace Democracy” to “Thinking Like Cathedral Builders” and “Committing to the Business of Place”—that Abrams has discovered in the 32 years since he cofounded South Mountain Company on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Together, these principles reveal communities of enterprise as a potent force of change that can—and will— improve the way Americans do business.


"John Abrams tells a wonderful story, full of ideas about our society. We all need the South Mountain Company--and its human lessons."--Anthony Lewis, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner


John Abrams

John Abrams is co-founder and president of South Mountain Company, a design/build and renewable energy company on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. In 1987, South Mountain Company was restructured to become employee-owned, and so began the adventure that led Abrams to write his first book, The Company We Keep: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place. With added experience and research, Abrams has revised the book, renamed Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place, so that it can better serve as a primer for employee-ownership. In 2005 Business Ethics magazine awarded South Mountain its National Award for Workplace Democracy.




John Abrams, author of The Company We Keep

John Abrams discusses his book Companies We Keep

John Abrams Keynote at Bioneers by the Bay 2008


Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar

By Jim Eber and Pam Williams

“Just give me all your chocolate and no one gets hurt!”

Billions of us worldwide understand what it means to scream those words. We feel lost—even unhinged—without chocolate’s pleasures. And if chocolate is the music that makes our days brighter, fine chocolate is the symphony—the richest, most complex form in the chocolate universe. The most important movement in that symphony’s centuries-old existence is now beginning. And that future is . . . what? A world of gray monochromatic flavor, or one rich with a rainbow of flavors that capture the myriad pleasures and diversity of the cocoa bean?

In the spirit of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate tells the story of what that next movement in the fine flavor chocolate symphony might hold. Told in four lively parts covering everything from before the bean to after the bar—genetics, farming, manufacturing, and bonbons—the book features interviews with dozens of international stakeholders across the fine flavor industry to consider the promises and pitfalls ahead. It looks through what is happening today to understand where things are going, while unwrapping the possibilities for the millions and millions of us who believe that life without the very best chocolate is no life at all.

Part One
Seeds of Change: Genetics and Flavor

The genetic story of the future of flavor cacao told through discussions with researchers, scientists, and experts around the world who are involved at the genetic level: from the mapping of the cacao genome to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative that seeks to connect flavor to genetics to the work being done on the ground to confront the spread of low-flavor beans and ensure cacao quality and diversity for future generations. 

Part Two
From the Ground Up: Farmers, Farming, and Flavor

Discussion of the issues of growing cacao from an ecological and sustainable perspective given the reality of where it is grown. Interviews and stories cover the majority of fine flavor growing regions and myriad efforts to add value and values to fine flavor chocolate; preserve, protect, and propagate flavor cacao for the future; and ensure that the beans are as good as they can possibly be. The realities and possibilities of fair trade chocolate and the work being done on fermentation are also covered.

Part Three
To Market, To Market: Craftsmanship, Customer Education and Flavor

Can consumers learn to slow down, taste, explore, and value the costly complexity of fine chocolate? Though the future looks bright by some measurements, sometimes the numbers aren’t what they seem…. Discussions with both artisan and traditional chocolate manufacturers around the world on how they see the market and sources for fine flavor beans and what they are doing to educate their customers about their craft, including a survey of the nature of raw, organic, and functional chocolate.

Part Four 
Performing Flavor: The Art of the Chocolatier

Whether watching over those creations, traveling the world to discover new pairings, or simply taking their love of Junior Mints to the highest level, the world’s fine flavor chocolatiers are all deeply aware of the “stage” they work on and the importance of taste in every performance. The future of their creations—the most flavorful and beautiful bonbons and confections in the world—are discussed as these chocolatiers confront the issues surrounding the preservation of their craft and how they see their flavors and recipe development changing (or not) in the future.

Available in: Hardcover

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Raising the Bar

Pam Williams, Jim Eber

Hardcover $19.95

Gaian Economics

Gaian Economics

Gaian Economics is the second volume in the Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series and sets out to explore how we can develop healthy and abundant societies in harmony with our finite planetary resources.

Using contributions from a wealth of authors (including Small Is Beautiful’s E. F. Schumacher, eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, and Rob Hopkins of the Transition movement), the editors address ways of reducing our consumption to levels that enable natural systems to self-regenerate and to do so in ways that permit a high quality of life—that we live within our means and that we live well.

Since the advent of the Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth century, humans have stood apart from the rest of nature, seeking to manipulate it for their benefit. Thus, we have learned to refer to the natural world as “the environment” and to see it, in economic terms, as little more than a bank of resources to be transformed into products for human use and pleasure. This has brought us to the brink of collapse, with natural systems straining under the weight of the population and the levels at which we are consuming.

We are, however, on the threshold of a shift into a new way of seeing and understanding the world and our place within it—called, by some, the “Ecological Age.” It will be characterized by a new understanding of our place as a thread in the web of life, of our interconnectedness with all other living things. Gaian Economics offers ways forward toward this Ecological Age, giving suggestions for how it may take shape, and how it would work.

The Four Keys represent the four dimensions of sustainable design—the Worldview, the Social, the Ecological, and the Economic. This series is endorsed by UNESCO and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The other books of the series are Beyond You and Me, Designing Ecological Habitats, and The Song of the Earth. The Four Keys to Sustainable Communities series was completed in 2012 and is now available in the U.S. for the first time.

Available in: Paperback

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Gaian Economics

Ross Jackson, Jonathan Dawson, Helena Norberg-Hodge

Paperback $29.95

Raising Dough

Raising Dough

By Elizabeth Ü

More and more entrepreneurs are using food-based businesses to solve social and environmental problems - and yet the majority of them report that a lack of access to capital prevents them from launching, maintaining, or growing their ventures. Raising Dough is an unprecedented guide to the full range of financing options available to support sustainable food businesses.

Raising Dough provides valuable insights into the world of finance, including:

  • Descriptions of various capital options, including traditional debt and equity, government grant and loan programs, and cutting-edge models such as crowdfunding and community-based alternatives
  • Guiding questions to help determine which capital options are the most appropriate given the size, stage, entity type, growth plans, mission, and values of an enterprise
  • Case studies and testimonials highlighting the experiences of food system entrepreneurs who have been there before, including both success stories and cautionary tales
  • Referrals to sources of capital, financiers, investor networks, and other financial resources.

Written primarily for people managing socially responsible food businesses, the resources and tips covered in this book will benefit social entrepreneurs - and their investors - working in any sector.

Available in: Paperback

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Raising Dough

Elizabeth Ü, Michael Shuman

Paperback $19.95

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

By Joel Salatin

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven is written by an honest-to-goodness-dirt-under-the-fingernails, optimistic clean good farmer. His goal is to:

  • Empower food buyers to pursue positive alternatives to the industrialized food system
  • Bring clean food farmers and their patrons into a teamwork relationship
  • Marry the best of western technology with the soul of eastern ethics
  • Educate food buyers about productions
  • Create a food system that enhances nature's ecology for future generations

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven has an overriding objective of encouraging every food buyer to embrace the notion that menus are a conscious decision, creating the next generation's world one bite at a time.

Available in: Paperback

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Holy Cows and Hog Heaven

Michael Pollan, Joel Salatin

Paperback $17.95