A note from Joinery owner Jon Blumenauer
In late January 2017, I was returning from a meeting with leaders of other Portland-area B Corps. It was a volatile time for our community and, I believe historians will someday agree, our country. Donald Trump had just been sworn in after one of the most divisive elections in our history, and emotions were raw.
I don’t remember much about what we discussed in that meeting. But I do remember wishing what we had talked about instead: at a time of great uncertainty and fear, how can like-minded businesses get together to support one another and stand up for our core values, which appeared to be under attack? Particularly galling to me was the demonization of immigrants that Trump made a centerpiece of his campaign.
I mentioned this to Amy Prosenjak, the President of A to Z Wineworks, who was also at the meeting. She invited me to come out to the winery to meet with her and Sam Tannahill, one of A to Z’s founders, to talk about it further. While there are many worthy areas of policy to champion, the immigration issue was important to us because it cuts straight to the core of who we are as people, which is always reflected by how we treat others.
Never mind that virtually all Americans are immigrants. Never mind that the rhetoric, aside from being mean-spirited, was simply incorrect; never mind that the “policy” being championed was impractical and counterproductive. These are academic arguments. And that is not to say that academic arguments are not important – after all, immigration policy is complex, and well-intentioned people can come to support different approaches.
But this is about something much more real, much more tangible. It is simply this: How do we treat one another?
We resolved a couple of things in our discussion on that beautiful day overlooking the vineyards. One was to actively search out ways to partner with local businesses that share the same values to strengthen one another. Great intentions are meaningless without the ability to follow through on them. And in the case of small local companies, that means our businesses must remain strong to provide the jobs, stability, financial resources and bandwidth to focus on other things.
The other was to tell the story of how immigrants, particularly recent ones, contribute mightily to our communities.
Fast forward to June 2018 and the release of US, a compilation of immigrant stories from Portland-area B Corps. US profiles fourteen immigrants from countries across five continents.