Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Links

Links early on a Thursday...

Wall Street Journal breaks the hope and promise of a New Year with the report of a Harvard study and its stimulating conclusion that businesses "doing good works" or pursuing "societal benefit" are only weakly correlated to reap shareholder benefit. (Save yourself the click- that's basically all it says.) The discouraging suggestion is that cash contributions to charities are a better indicator of a company's financial success than community projects, for example...or responsible corporate policies! Expect nothing less from Harvard and WSJ then the stunning philosophy of "Make your money first, and then give it away."

Admittedly my first reaction to news of CEO Mark Benioff's book was skeptical; after all, I figured it was easy enough for a celebrity chief exec to cajole all of his/her buddies into writing an essay and throw them together and have them published. On second glance I decided I'd give this one a try, not for my dayjob allegiance to Benioff's web-based software, but for the diversity and star-studdedness of his essayist lineup.

This week's TreeHugger Carnival of the Green is a best-of-the-best of the green web by, leading off with a link to a story about "Pedelecs" on college campuses. I've never been a big fan of "motorized bikes" and any time I see one here in moderately temperate Southern Cal, I can't help thinking, "Why don't you just pedal yourself?" Of course the few times I have pedaled the 8 miles to work, I'm covered in sweat by the time I arrive; maybe that's an argument.

Double the wheels, but only multiply the cost of your average bike x 10, and you get the world's first $2,500 car, by Tata of India. It's actually closer to $3k at the moment- and I am fine that we continue to refer to Optimist innovations by their target price, whether it's achievable yet or not. Admittedly the "$100 Laptop" has a lot more cache than the "Buy Two $100 Laptops for $400" that the production economies currently allow...

Great local story from the Indianpolis Star about some Indiana farmers who began using roduce from there all-natural farms to create food products back in 2002 and have since grown Local Folks Foods 20x into a nice-sized (we don't know how nice) specialty foods company.

Another quick local story, this one from the Bismarck Tribune, about 2008 Marketplace Entrepreneurs of the Year winner SolarBee, a North Dakota company whose floating, solar-powered water circulator improves water quality in lakes, reservoirs, and water storage facilities. Another great story about local entrepreneurship with universal applicability- and yet another great (and, not that I could have thought it up, relatively simple-sounding) product marketed toward better water quality.

And finally, on Monday I was absolutely enlightened to absorb this perspective on why my all-time favorite lunch- the All-American Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (I am very particular about mine and make with Jif Reduced Fat Crunchy Peanut Butter and Smuckers Strawberry Preservers, both marketed by the JM Smuckers Company of Orrville Ohio, on whoe wheat bread with some tortillas inserted for added crunch)- is also far better for the environment than your average lunch! Check out the PB&J Campaign.

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