TNB discovered a cool new student-run business who created cookies for our most recent BARS Boston event and for the TNB Roundtables. Cookie Boss is a Boston-based company run by students in the BUILD Boston program. These students work hard every day to create delicious treats that come in a selection of different shapes, textures and flavors. The cookies can even be designed with your company logo or picture! We ordered rectangle sugar cookie flavor of our TNB logo, round TNB logo cookies, and round BARS Boston logo cookies for our event on June 24th. The cookies come individually packaged so they are great for giving away as gifts. They tasted great too!
BUILD Boston’s mission is to use entrepreneurship to excite and propel disengaged, low-income students through high school to college success. Students create businesses at a young age and use the confidence and skills gained to propel them into college and rewarding careers.
Learn more about Cookie Boss and BUILD Boston on their site.
As CALC looks forward, we see a future for Massachusetts and our small businesses impacted by rising seas. For this reason, we are joining our partners at the American Sustainable Business Council to spearhead the project Boston Businesses Acting on Rising Seas. This project follows from ASBC’s work with South Carolina Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (SCBARS). This project will engage Massachusetts’ coastal businesses and municipalities to demonstrate the ultimate physical and economic consequences of climate change and rising sea levels, as articulated in a recent report from The Boston Harbor Association. The businesses will publicly display where sea level rise will reach by the year 2050 in a 100-year flood on the interior and exterior of their buildings. Through their engagement, businesses will take a step towards engaging the in advocacy necessary to mitigate and adapt to the change the science shows is coming. They will begin by sparking the conversations in their communities, and hopefully join CALC in taking action and advocating for robust policy at the municipal and state levels.
Susan spoke at the CommonBound conference on June 8th about technology’s role in the new economy. The CommonBound website features our very own Susan Labandibar and Michael Green.
Here is her full speech:
“ What is the new economy? It’s human scale, resourceful, restorative and compassionate. Just like in colonial times, it’s profoundly DIY and it’s profoundly democratic. But unlike colonial times, it is built on highly sophisticated technology that is so simple to use and so affordable, that almost everyone can use it.
Why is this so important to the development of the new economy? Well, let’s step back for a second and let me tell you that we already know how to live within our planetary means, even with a population of more than 7 billion people. All we need to do is reduce the standard of living worldwide to that of the average citizen of Bangladesh. Now that doesn’t sound so appealing. The new economy is more than just the democratization of technology, but let me tell you, there is no way we’re going to build durable economies without it.
The democratization of technology has had profound implications on the business I work in, Tech Network of Boston. Tech Networks is an IT services company that started twenty years ago delivering used computers to inner city college students. When computers became cheap and ubiquitous, we shifted our focus to maintaining computer networks for local area non-profits. Then, guess what happened? The same thing. Email, shared files and applications began to move to the cloud. Software in particular became so easy and cheap to use that almost anyone could download and install them on their phone. So then we started helping people use technology to collaborate.
For three years now, our mantra has been: “We’re Better Together.” And over time, we’re learning how to build even more powerful collaborations and break down silos. Some people think that we earn our living by maintaining servers and building network infrastructure, but that’s becoming less relevant. We are helping non-profits use information technology to serve their employees and their constituents, to scale in size and impact, and to innovate.
But Tech Networks, like so many other social enterprises today, is itself an innovative organization that defies traditional labels. We’re a Certified B Corporation on the road to becoming a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation. That means that we are legally allowed to prioritize mission over money. Thank God. If I had investors they would have fired me a long time ago!
Our mission, like the new economy itself, is complex. In the new economic ecosystem there are no clear boundaries. Yes, we enable positive change in the world by helping non-profit organizations take advantage of IT. But we have many other relationships within the community, including our IT community of practice, our workforce development partnerships, and our initiatives outside the IT field, like Southie Trees which focuses on maintaining and expanding tree coverage in South Boston, and the Climate Action Liaison Coalition, which enables businesses to take action against climate change.
Tech Networks is extremely grateful that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has created a legal status for businesses like ours. But there is so much more that government could do to encourage the growth and development of the new economy. For the last thirty years, the City of Burlington Vermont has explicitly followed an economic development plan that features government, small businesses and non-profit organizations working together to build a durable economy that meets the needs of all residents. It’s my hope that cities and towns across the nation will take notice of the success that Burlington has achieved by following this model.
I’m going to wrap up with a story with a personal story about government, the new economy, and an opossum in a trash can. One of the crowning achievements of the Department of New Urban Mechanics at the City of Boston was the “Citizens Connect” iPhone app. Whereas, prior to the app, City of Boston employees used to drive around the City, looking for potholes and other problems, the Citizens Connect application allows any smartphone user to snap a picture of a broken street light, pothole, or other annoyance and automatically report the location to the City. There is also a Twitter feed, so people can follow along as the problems are reported and fixed. I had just downloaded the app after learning about it at a neighborhood association meeting. I was bored, it was 11:00 on a Friday night in the middle of winter. I clicked on a few pictures of potholes, and then I saw a picture of a red trash can with something in it.
The accompanying text was: “Possum’ in my trash can. Can’t tell if it’s dead. How do I get this removed.” I got on my coat, walked ten minutes to the trash can location, and, sure enough, there was an opossum trapped in a trash can. 15 minutes later, I filed the return tweet: “Possum? Check. Living? Yep. Turned the trash can on its side. Walked home. Good night, sweet possum.”
Talk about “We’re Better Together” When citizens, businesses, and governments work together, you never know what can happen. Sometimes, you might even save an opossum.”
CommonBound is the New Economy Coalition’s largest and most significant convening yet. This conference showcased a wide variety of new economy strategies, and participation from organizations such as the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Demos, Climate Justice Alliance, Shareable, PolicyLink, and more.
CommonBound encourages ideas, discussion and provides a tool for impacting your community. It allows you to build relationships with key collaborators and connect local efforts to broader campaigns and the emerging movement for a new economy.
The New Economy Coalition (NEC) is a collaborative network of more than 100 organizations and businesses working to build the movement for just and sustainable future. With a realized need for change in our economic and political systems, the NEC works as a platform for reform.
The NEC has convened a network of more than 100 pioneering organizations (see the full list here). Working together, they look to sharpen ideas, reach new constituencies, broaden support for existing work, and launch new campaigns. In so doing, they will move forward rapidly from imagining a better future to making it happen.
The rising sea levels in Boston have been a rising concern in recent months. Businesses are realizing they need to put climate change in their business plans and take precautionary measures to protect their data.
Please join us June 24th, as Tech Networks of Boston, the Climate Action Liaison Coalition and the City of Boston launch the Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS Boston) program. Tech Networks of Boston’s President Susan Labandibar, and other key speakers will focus on specific steps business can take to prepare for rising sea levels and other anticipated climate disruptions, including moving data storage to the cloud to improve business continuity.
The BARS Boston launch event will take place on June 24th, 2014 from 6:00-8:00pm at the District Hall in Boston, MA and you can register here. This event is free and open to the public.
Check out these scenes of how the rising sea levels will eventually impact our city! We hope you will join us!
Microsoft is currently reporting an outage across businesses throughout the US for its Outlook, Office 365 and other Microsoft services. This problem stemmed from its Exchange Online service which is used to run e-mail, calendar and contacts service. Microsoft reps issued a statement that engineers are currently working on a solution to the issue.
The day has finally come…support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will end today, April 8, 2014. We recommend you replace your old machines to benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.
What this means for you: You will no longer receive security updates or program updates for Windows XP. You will still be able to use the operating system, but you will no longer be able to update your machines or get technical support.
Common Concerns: If you continue to use the older machines your computers could be subject to malicious attacks and reduced data security.
What you can do: Contact TNB for quotes for some newer machines and to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, and take advantage of the trade in offer!
Trade-In Offer: If you would like to earn some money back from your old operating system you can follow a few easy steps:
1. Buy a new Windows 8 tablet, phone or PC
2. Get a quote for your old device
3. Mail your old device to Clover Wireless
4. Receive cash back in the form of a Visa prepaid card or check.
If you are interested in this buyback program you can get started here.
Tech Networks of Boston recommends you upgrade your old machines at your earliest convenience. We want to ensure your operating systems are up-to-date and remain secure to enable your organization to operate at the most proficient level.
Threats from extreme weather can cause a real disruption to small businesses. Research conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council has shown that small businesses are highly vulnerable yet a majority are not taking the proper steps to increase their preparedness. Since many small businesses only have one location, an event that prevents customers, vendors and employees from accessing the building can result in significant lost business. Even more damaging, having centralized data can threaten a business’s security by temporary power loss, or worse, power spikes and flooding could lead to a complete loss of your customer information and any improperly backed up data.
Many coastal cities on the Eastern seaboard are preparing for storm surges and other impacts associated with rising sea levels and extreme weather. This calls for small businesses to plan ahead and make sure they are not vulnerable the next time extreme weather hits. We recommend you to move your company’s data off site by using Microsoft’s 365 cloud platform. This will remove the need for any onsite server, reducing your vulnerability as well as your energy costs. Microsoft will back you and your customers’ data to their network of servers, allowing it to be out of harm’s way and allowing you access from anywhere.
Small businesses can also increase their extreme weather preparedness by guaranteeing access to the internet. Having more than one viable point of connection provides an alternative when extreme weather brings their main line of connection down. Towerstream is a leading wireless service provider delivering advanced, reliable, high-speed internet access to businesses at a lower cost than traditional providers. They guarantee 99.99% network availability through their Service Availability Guarantee and have built their infrastructure to withstand any extreme weather events.
A secure business is a prepared business. Let Tech Networks initiate your company to be proactive in making the transition to a cloud based environment, and use Towerstream to prevent any future obstacles for your IT department. Having a reliable, secure, updated network will keep your company ahead of the curve and operating at its full potential.
Full house at the BSA! Business leaders giving feedback to the City of Boston Climate Action Plan.
This morning at the Boston Society of Architects space, CALC in conjunction with The City of Boston’s Greenovate team hosted a small business meetup where companies could learn how to take advantage of the city’s environmental programs. Panelists included Steven Rumpler from Boston Main Streets and Todd Cowger of Rise Engineering. Also in attendance was a small group of climate champions who have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Greenovate platform; they each shared their experiences of both success and challenges they faced.
Individuals in attendance were encouraged to share the way their small business led the way in sustainability and what programs and incentives they already use to save their company money. Tech Networks of Boston offers employees an MBTA program in which TNB reimburses half of their MBTA pass and we also have a smart car available for company use. This saves our company travel expenses going to and from client sites, and is a great incentive for employees to stick to using public transportation. These are just some of our green office initiatives.
The last part of the meetup focused on suggesting changes to existing programs to further help small business sustainability. This included increasing outreach to small businesses to make them more aware of the advantages of “going green”, consequently saving them money as well as benefiting the environment. Individuals also suggested expanding bike programs to outlying areas and giving commuters more time-sensitive options. If you are interested in contributing to the effort to help shape the 2014 Climate Action Plan, you can email CAP2014@Cityofboston.gov.
Thanks to you, we have received a certification that enables us to put our stakeholder commitments at the forefront of our business goals. Our 18 years of service to community-based non-profits earned TNB 118 points out of 200 on our B Corp certification. B Corporations are a new kind of company who use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. To maintain this status, we must continue to operate with top social and environmental performance, creating higher quality jobs and improving the quality of life in our communities. We will continue to use our B Corp status to continue to fulfill our mission to enable organizations to use innovative and effective tools to serve human needs.
Joe Snowden by TNB offices
While sales people often focus on getting clients to sign on the dotted line and move on as quickly as possible, for the past 30 years Joe has been invested in long-term client satisfaction across several industries. Joe is experienced at transforming the “back offices” of organizations in order to make sure clients get what they need. For instance, while working for a Home Improvement Contractor, he implemented a fulfillment calendar to make sure he was able to make and keep promises to clients. Joe quoting Epictetus, says “‘We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.’ I have learned to listen to client needs… as I listened to the problems of our clients, I saw right away the parallel between IT and my prior work for a chimney company.” In chimney repair, allowing for a lapse in repairs can cause catastrophic failure, endanger households and cost many times as much as completing routine maintenance. Joe joined TNB in May and has been an evangelist for longer-term thinking here as well. By asking the right questions, Joe has helped clients see the importance of investing in planning and improvements in infrastructure that have helped save them money, improve efficiency and better focus on their missions.