Can Durham Outshine Star, NC?

This entry was posted Monday, 25 January, 2010 at 3:35 pm
The Garden and GreenHouse in front of Star

The Garden and GreenHouse in front of Star

Can each community in our nation achieve the goals set out by the little town of Star North Carolina, and their eco-industrial park?  After 15 years of what has been certainly hard work, the 6 counties in central NC bordered by Asheboro on the north and Rockingham on the south, Albemarle on the west and Siler City on the east, have created an experiment in rural economic development that rivals some of the finest examples across the country.  Receiving a free closed textile mill (and there are lots of those as well as furniture and other manufacturing buildings throughout the country), they have refurbished it.  Their Board, with funding assistance from Goldenleaf, Z Smith Reynolds, Rural Economic Development Center and other foundations, have created an incubator for arts and green businesses, attracting:

  • a glass blower and glass blowing equipment company,
  • a ceramics company (lots in the area of Sea Grove just to the north),
  • a clay production operation (the most interesting, selling clay to numerous potters in the area using local soils),
  • a geothermal installer and equipment manufacturer, and
  • biodiesel production facility that is using a state of the art batch cavitator processor (30gpm) and is being installed by Piedmont.
Glass Blowing Studio and Equipment

Glass Blowing Studio and Equipment

The site also sports a manageable garden and greenhouse, and they have plans to take the building off the grid, using excess heat from the glass blowing to help heat the biodiesel operation, installing skylights for natural lighting, and other innovative redevelopment technologies.  Frank Harmon is the architect and Nancy Gottovi the Director, who has worked at the site since 2006.

Ceramic Kiln

Ceramic Kiln

The evening celebration was centered on a presentation by Michael Shuman, the author of the Smallmart Revolution, a textbook for community redevelopment, going local and off-setting globalism and its effect on communities across America.  He has been touring around the country promoting the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) movement.  His slide show was excellent and made us wish that more community leaders and government officials were present to enlighten them to the egregious policies that have robbed our communities of capital, jobs and a sustainable future. The gist was that we can develop policies that don’t promote” too big to fail”, multinationals (TINA) at the expense of local businesses, or what Shuman calls “local ownership import substitution” (aka. LOIS).  Neoliberal tenets of free markets and free trade are being promoted at the expense of LOIS,

“All over the world, conventional economic developers have embraced the
logic of “there is no alternative”—or TINA—in the form of two imper-
atives: get Toyota to locate in your backyard, and export your goods as
far and widely as possible.”

Whereas, the values of and impacts of helping local, small businesses are enormous.  Local businesses tend to be more sustainable, increase employment and multipliers and keep money within the community.

http://74.6.239.67/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=lois+smallmart+revolution&fr=yfp-t-701&u=www.bkconnection.com/static/shuman-excerpt.pdf&w=lois+smallmart+revolution+revolutions&d=KBjDZN29T_cu&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=PT_4FcI5Fb1rNT_Os15cIQ–

Clay Manufacturing

Clay Manufacturing

What was really cool about was the clay making operation, where they were taking local soils and sifting them, mixing in minerals to create specific types of clays and pressing them into bricks to be sold to potters across the State.  The equipment was acquired and refurbished.  The man who refurbished it , and the mechanic on the Star site, was from an ejido community east of the Calakmul Biosphere in the Yucatan of Mexico (See the Maya Forest, www.forestoftheworld.com).  His wife works for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and they were planning to build an ecolodge on a 40 hectare plot on the border with the Reserve.  They also collect chicle and are excited about bringing people to the region.  What a small world.

Minerals used to make clay batches

Minerals used to make clay batches

TFF is working with the Office of Workforce and Economic Development and Jane Norton’s Green Guide to bring Michael Shuman to Durham for a joint session of the City Council and County Commissioners.  This would be money well spent.  As we see it, government will be broke for a long time, as anti-tax sentiment and developers keep externalizing costs.  There is no money from the banks to lend except for traditional unsustainable development and we will need better policies to keep money local and recirculating to build the new green economy.  Star offers hope and we would like to see the same model used for the redevelopment of Goldenbelt.

Michael Shuman's slide lecture and reception

Michael Shuman's slide lecture and reception

1 Comment to Can Durham Outshine Star, NC?

  1. Community Sustainable Energy: Can Durham Outshine Star, NC? | frank harmon architect pa says:

    January 26th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    [...] HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE Garden and green house. Project architect: Frank Harmon Architect [...]