3 on the 3rd: CSRwire's Sustainability Story

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BCLC's new executive interview series, 3 on the 3rd, is dedicated to providing deep and valuable business insights delivered in a quick manner. As the column name suggests, interviews are three questions in length and air on the 3rd of the month.

This month I interviewed Jack Wysocki, VP of Business Development at CSRwire. Since 1999, CSRwire has served as a leading global source of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability news. For over a decade, the news platform has told the stories of how hundreds of businesses create a positive impact in society, but what about the company's own initiatives? See how an organization dedicated to sustainability is leading the way on innovative community development. 

1. CSRwire is a leader in sharing the news of societal improvement – hundreds of organizations turn to you to amplify their stories. But you have your own story to tell, too. So tell us, what is CSRwire’s community involvement focus?

Our office is located on a chemically-contaminated street called “Gasoline Alley.” Years back when the buildings were purchased I thought it was a crazy move. There were no bugs, plant or wildlife, but plenty of crime. What we have built since then is an oasis in the middle of blight. We have built an evolving village and I'm proud of the fact that I have helped that growth – economic, environment and social – and will continue to help it grow.

CSRwire's social mission is represented through the work of The Gasoline Alley Foundation. We believe that honest, dignified jobs are the way to economic and community development. Our mission is to teach inner city youth and/or underprivileged persons to be successful entrepreneurs while revitalizing inner city neighborhoods with a concentration on socially responsible/sustainable business practices.

2. Help us bring this work to life – take us through the story of how a youth found you, how it impacted this person, and where he or she is today.

I'll give you one example. While Trent was at Springfield Technical Community College, he wrote a business plan for a sustainable contracting company that utilized recycled or abandoned materials.

At the same time, the Gasoline Alley Foundation was working with three students from Eisenberg school of Business at UMass on a business plan to make furniture out of materials kept from the landfill. The students read about Trent in the newspaper and contacted him who came to Gasoline Alley a few years ago and never left.

Trent’s work is created through the mission of giving value to that which has been abandoned.  All materials used in his work were abandoned once before, reclaimed through donations, or purchased at a recycled material facility.

Creating each unique piece depends on the materials he has on hand and the chemistry between the materials and his tools.  Some pieces fall together easily with like size material or complimenting wood species and vintage metal artifacts.  Some pieces sit for months waiting for the right materials to come through the shop doors and complete the "look" Trent seeks in all his pieces.

When each piece is finished it’s slightly similar to the others in the shop but unique in its own right with its own special story on how it can to be. He is today replenishing our resources by creating useful consumables out of waste.

3. “Scale” is talked about all the time in CSR.  In the context of CSRwire and Gasoline Alley, what would scale mean?

We believe we can create a sustainable living and learning center off the grid on Gasoline Alley.  Springfield, which has been severely depressed economically for years now, can become a mecca for socially responsible/sustainable business and act as an example for other communities. We are firm in our vision and believe that sustainable social enterprise is only successful when it nourishes its local economy, offers dignified job opportunities and ensures that we are all creating a shared economy for us and our planet.

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