Interview with Luke Miller Callahan, Founder of GroAction
Founded by Luke Miller Callahan, GroAction.com provides news on local, sustainable business, interviews with sustainability and systems thinking experts, and resources for social entrepreneurs. We asked Luke about the services GroAction provides for social entrepreneurs, what he’s working on next, and some of his favorite interviews.
How would you describe GroAction in a single tweet?
GroAction provides resources that empower people to create a local, sustainable business that provides an income while solving a social, health, or environmental problem.
What inspired you to create GroAction?
Initially, I started GroAction as a supplemental education to the Master’s of Sustainability I was enrolled in. I’m a pretty curious guy, so I thought it’d be fun to talk to thought leaders in sustainable development. Turns out I was right!
Now, with the goal of empowering people to start small businesses, it is much more of a focused passion of mine. Our world is going to change drastically for the better in the next 20 years. A big theme is going to be smaller, more localized business.
We are doing everything we can to give people the tools they need to start their own local, sustainable, businesses.
How does GroAction help social entrepreneurs?
A couple of ways:
- The GroAction Network of Social Entrepreneurs—A free resource where we connect members with each other, mentors, and ultimately investors, in order to get their enterprise off the ground and thriving.
- Business Courses—We team up with the leaders of local, sustainable businesses to help entrepreneurs build a similar model in their city. The guides provide detailed step-by-step action items to build your own business.
You’ve interviewed a number of social innovation and sustainable business luminaries. How do you approach someone like that, and are they generally receptive?
The thing about that I’ve learned about a lot of these thought leaders is that they’re essentially rock stars on tour. They get heaps of requests on a daily basis to do an interview with them, but the reporters are all just looking for the soundbyte (or the single, in a rockstar’s case) that made them famous.
So, when I show up out of the blue and ask to interview them about some obscure part of their business, or, better yet, what they want to talk about, they open right up.
What are your three favorite interviews?
I really do enjoy them all… because I get to ask whatever I want! But, a few that immediately pop into my head are:
Richard Heinberg, about his book The End of Growth. We are living in arguably the most exciting time in human evolution (peak oil, failing financial systems, mass species extinction, etc.) and Richard can articulate the predicament better than anyone.
David Holmgren, Permaculture founder. He is an architect of sustainable human civilization. I could have talked to him for hours about the ins and outs of permaculture as a blueprint for our next 20 years of societal “development.”
Doug Weatherbee, the soil doctor. Doug quit his highly successful career as a technology consultant after touring a natural gas-powered fertilizer plant and seeing how perverse our system of feeding crops (and ultimately us) is. Since then he has dedicated his life to building soil organically and teaching others how to do the same. I learned more minute-for-minute in this interview than any other time in my education.
What’s next for GroAction?
We’re just launching a campaign to encourage people to become commercial urban farmers. We’re all pretty excited about this because it is such a big leverage point for social change. The industry that is going to grow (no pun intended) the most in the coming years is agriculture. And, we’re not talking single digit growth points either. We’re talking about more than a third of our population getting involved in food production in some fashion.
So, we’re working with Curtis Stone, a highly successful urban farmer from Kelowna, BC, Canada, to create an online course for potential commercial urban farmers.
And here’s the cool part, I’m going to be the guinea pig. Each week Curtis gives me tasks on what I need to do to build my urban farm business. And each week, Curtis and I review my progress (http://vimeo.com/35716694) From there, we give the tasks to students of the course for them to complete.
By the end we should have some profitable urban farms started throughout the country… and beyond!
What single thing could someone reading this do to support GroAction’s network?
If you or someone you know is starting a social enterprise, direct them to GroAction.com where we’ll start connecting them with other people who want to help with their initiative.