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A Watershed Moment: National sustainable business conference comes to Grand Rapids

On today’s episode Elissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First, discusses the upcoming tenth annual BALLE Conference

/Courtesy of Local First and

Underwriting support from:

A Watershed Moment

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) is a national organization that brings together locally-owned, independent businesses across the country interested in impacting their communities through socially-responsible business practices. It is comprised of over 80 community networks in 30 different states representing over 22,000 constituent members. And with over 600 participating business in West Michigan, Local First is one of the largest BALLE Networks in the country.

According to an interview with BALLE Executive Director Michelle Long in the May 7 edition of Grand Rapids Business Journal, Grand Rapids was a natural choice for this year’s conference.

“The city was picked because of the innovation that is happening in Grand Rapids to grow the economy from the inside out. The real 'local first' mentality there and the fact that Grand Rapids has been named one of America’s greenest cities are reasons we want to come and learn from that place,” she said.

The conference will feature workshops and seminars designed to help local business owners design and implement sustainable business practices.

The event will also include nationally-recognized speakers like philosopher, activist and Detroit native Grace Lee Boggs. Her new book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century draws on seven decades of civil rights work to offer a grassroots approach to creating a more sustainable American society.

“Grace is in her 90s now... [and] will be speaking about Detroit and community development. I’m super excited to hear from her,” said Local First Executive Director Elissa Hillary.  

Local First will cohost the BALLE Conference this week, May 15 -19. More information about events and how to attend can be found at

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