Boston first city to launch small business incentive card

From Boston Business Journal
By: Naomi Kooker
November 21, 2006

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced the launch of a new Boston Community Change card Tuesday. The card is a rewards and loyalty-incentive program launched in partnership with The Interra Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit effort to strengthen communities through encouraging local spending. The program works in conjunction with Boston Main Streets, an economic initiative program that helps encourage local economies. "Boston is considered the leader in how seriously they've taken the program," said Greg Steltenpohl, co-founder and chairman of The Interra Project. "Roslindale is the first neighborhood, and Boston is the first city in the United States."

The card, free to consumers and merchants, allows small businesses to offer sophisticated loyalty programs and give-back programs other larger corporations do, said Steltenpohl, founder of the Odwalla juice company. When making a purchase, consumers swipe their Boston Community Change Card, making them eligible for the rewards program. The swipe automatically makes a donation to an organization chosen by the consumer from a selection of participating nonprofits. The merchant can choose the rewards program of his or her choice. "Small businesses can't afford these kind of sophisticated systems, unless we amortize them over a whole national network," said Steltenpohl. "I learned how big you can grow something when you start with neighborhoods."

The Interra Project is supported by Washington state-based The Russell Family Foundation and by other contributions, including Steltenpohl, who's given $750,000. He started Odwalla in his San Francisco back yard in 1980, and sold the company in 2001 to the Coca-Cola company. At the time, Odwalla had $100 million in revenue.

If you shop in Boston, get your FREE card today!

Order your card online now!

  • For a limited time, cards are being made available for FREE
  • All you will need to provide is a name, address and e-mail.
  • Unless you choose to receive promotions from participating businesses, your information will not be shared with anyone.
  • You will receive monthly e-mail statements highlighting how much of a rebate you have earned and how much you have donated to the community nonprofit of your choice through your shopping at local participating businesses.


Shop Locally, Share Locally

Posted by our friends at Treehugger
by Stephen Filler
February 20, 2007


For the past four years, the Interra Project has developed an ingenious model for people to use financial networks to support their local communities and sustainability. Recently, Interra rolled out its first project -- Boston Community Change - in partnership with Boston Main Streets.

Boston residents can get a free (at least for now) Boston Community Change card that they present to participating local merchants. Every time the card is swiped on the merchant’s credit card terminal, portions of the transaction are returned to the user as a cash rebate, donated to a local community based non-profit or school of the user’s choice, and donated to the local Main Streets organization. Merchants sign up for free, and decide how much of a rebate to grant to users.

The Boston Community Change card is not a payment card, and users can pay for their purchase with any payment form accepted by the business. Users receive monthly electronic statements detailing total rebates and donations. As Paul Ray, author of the “The Cultural Creatives,” has said: "The Interra model is a brilliant social and financial invention that can help bring a green economy into greater practicality.

This is hot stuff, and needs all our support. It functions rather like an alternative currency or an airline miles program, to help encourage mutual loyalty among green/socially responsible consumers. In particular, it does a better job of incentivizing a mutual loyalty of businesses and customers who share the same values." Interra has identified more than 100 cities for possible roll-out over the next 3-5 years.

Shop Locally and Share Locally with Boston Community Change

You care about the schools, businesses, and nonprofits that make up your community. Boston Community Change rewards you and your community when you shop at participating neighborhood businesses. Get involved today as either a participating merchant or by registering for your FREE Boston Community Change card. Start supporting your community today by SHOPPING LOCALLY and SHARING LOCALLY.

If you are a not school or non-profit and want to help us spread the word so that YOU can be chosen as a beneficiary, contact us any time at 617 635 0115.

I heart this place!


I'm in no way subscribing to forced celebration of love that was Valentine’s Day, but I couldn't help but wonder….when do you realize that you are in love? 

For the human relation you tend to know it. It’s usually marked by a moment, a kiss, a glance and or a feeling. In many cases it is verbalized or you simply cannot function in your usual capacity because you are just overwhelmed by this emotion. 

But back to the question at hand. When do you know that you are in love…with a place, its people and its happenings? 

Is it when you no longer feel the need to go elsewhere…or go home?

Is it when you call it your home and use references like “my neighborhood”?

When all your needs and most of your wants are met by the place?

Is it when you sacrifice the “never ever” rules and go with its flow? 

And when you know or think you know, are you supposed to turn to that place and say I love you? Tammyanka 

Dorchester Youth Council is A Daily Point Of Light

On February 15, 2007 the Social Capital Inc. Dorchester Youth   Council was recognized as the Daily Point of Light, a national  award from the  Points of Light Foundation. The Points of Light Award honors an individual or an organization that is making positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. To read more click here

Safe Love Success

Thank you to everyone who made Safe Love 2007 a success. Over 400 people attended this wonderful celebration. 

Arlene Agulto reports on a pre-Valentine's Day event sponsored by SCI Dorchester and the Dorchester Youth Council to promote healthy choices by teens.

Click here to see media coverage of the event courtesy of Neighborhood Network News.

Youth Council Receives National Honor

February 15, 2007 the Social Capital Inc. Dorchester Youth Council will be recognized as the Daily Point of Light, a national award from the  Points of Light Foundation. The Points of Light Award honors an individual or an organization that is making positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. The program was reinstated in 1998 by the Points of Light Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Knights of Columbus. The Youth Council will receive a presidential congratulatory letter, and certificates to commemorate the honor. They will also be featured on the awards page of the Points of Light Foundation website, Sonia Alleyne, Vice President of Sovereign Bank, a funder of the Youth Council expresses her praise, “We are so proud of them not only for this award but for what they continue to do for the betterment of the Dorchester community and beyond. They are indeed role models for the young and the old and we have to continue to lift up our shining stars.”

Need Help Registering?


If you need help registering to the site click here to download and print simple step-by-step registration instructions

The Garden Bench : Rooting yourself in the Earth

Hello to all my relations (including you!)
I am new to Dorchester, but feel well established as a gardener (third generation).. so I set out to potluck & network, hang out and say hello to the folk of our neighborhood. I'm seeking good new Gardening Friends. At our apartment we hold monthly Sistah Circles for DIY (do It Yourself) crafting, knitting, quilting and sewing. I'm looking for the Seed Exchange potluck, the gardeners backyard parties, whatever fun things we can get up to when it gets warmer!

About myself: I'm Amatul, the red-headed freckled Black & Lithuanian sista up near Ronen Park. Grew up in the 1970's and 80s with the hippies in Cambridge, with my father's African drumming and jazz saxaphone ringing out loud from the commons late into the night. My younger brothers and I always went for long walks as our momma had no car - so we'd walk around the Arboretum, the Squares, Fresh Pond, Boston Common, all up Mass Ave... wherever we could get to.

Now I simply love nature, and seek to bring it into my life wherever I can. I love the Blue Hills and find interesting areas of Franklin Park everytime I go check out the Zoo. I like to ride a bike around and look for trails near waterways or rivers, my boyfriend and I are still looking for new hiking trails around the city. While we are eager to see how things will grow and bear fruit in our new home, we accept that like gardening it will all take its own good time. It';s good so far - as folk in Dot are overall much friendlier than Cambridge, Somerville, or Medford...

I find that I like it here,
it's more Deep.

Besides going on nature trail hikes and crafting, I have to work. So I work for myself as a chemical-free organic gardener, planning sustainable landscapes and designing indoor "Plantscapes" for folks who want plants, but don't have the time to set them up properly.

I bring green beauty into people's home, workplace, front porch or backyard - no matter how large or small the job, I can help you bring a greener vision to reality - and I feel lucky to be able to do this work. As the head gardener of GAIA's Gardens and Sustainable Landscapes I do landscape and plantscape design, and build gardens - singly or with a crew.

But its not all about work -
I'm a community activist, organizing Martin Luther King day each year for the City of Cambridge, curator of many Black Art exhibits for the Harriet Tubman Gallery back in the 1990's, and as AQuarii Arts/ ToolBox Productions we produce musical shows every other month or so.

As my own form of Green Activism I teach how plants & flowers serve to clean the air indoors and brighten the spirit of a room, reshape a dusty yard into a welcoming after-work relaxation zone, plant herbal gardens for fresh tea at home, organize vacant lot clean-ups for neighborhood associations, pull together child-friendly garden plots, even plant groundcovers to conserve soil on erosion-prone slopes, install ornamental ponds, or build rock and succulent gardens.

I'm a firm believer that our WORK, whatever it may be, can include activism, community service, spirtuality, healing and prayer.

While I am gardening I stay connected, finding ways to welcome and learn from youth and elders alike. THIS IS ROOT NATURAL: re-connecting to the Tribe, the Human Family all around us.

Gardening is my way of encouraging positive and empowering approaches to environmental protection, asserting the mental-health values of the natural world, and re-connecting myself to the Earth.

Many researchers agree - academic citations are below -

Root Yourself in the Garden:

Did you know...
"Direct encounters with the natural world improve your mental health across a spectrum including healing emotional trauma, reducing stress, strengthening self-confidence and leadership abilities, and cultivating spiritual growth. (2004 John Davis, Ph.D. Naropa University, School of Lost Borders)

Dr Davis also writes:
"Ecopsychology offers three insights:

1. There is a deeply Bonded and Reciprocal relationship between Humans and Nature. Ecopsychology draws on two metaphors for this relationship: (a) nature as home and family (e.g., Earth as mother, animals as siblings) and (b) nature as Self, in which self-identifications are broadened to include the "greater-than-human" world and Gaia.

2. The illusion of a separation of humans and nature leads to suffering both for the environment (as ecological devastation) and for humans (as grief, despair, and alienation).

3. Realizing the connection between humans and nature is healing for both. This reconnection includes the healing potential of contact with nature, work on grief and despair about environmental destruction, ecotherapy, and psychoemotional bonding with the world as a source of environmental action and sustainable lifestyles..."

Grow strong Children in the Garden:

Did you know...
- Children who play regularly in natural environments show more advanced motor fitness, including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often (Grahn, et al. 1997, Fjortoft & Sageie 2001)

- Children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature (Taylor et al. 2001)

- Exposure to natural environments improves children's cognitive development by improving their awareness, reasoning, and observational skills (Pyle 2002).

- Nature buffers the impact of life's stresses on children and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits (Wells & Evans 2003)

- An affinity to and love of nature, along with a positive environmental ethic, grow out of regular contact with and play in the natural world during early childhood. Children's loss of regular contact with the natural world can result in a biophobic future generation not interested in preserving nature and its diversity (Bunting & Cousins 1985; Chawla 1988; Wilson 1993; Pyle 1993; Chipeniuk 1994; Sobel 1996, 2002 & 2004; Hart 1997; Wilson 1997, Kals et al. 1999; Moore & Cosco 2000; Fisman 2001; Kellert 2002; Bixler et al. 2002; Kals & Ittner 2003; Schultz et al. 2004)

ORGANIC Gardening is great for children and all living things

As I always say,
Our Roots on the Tree of Life cross over again and again..
What is good for the child, is good for the society

Ill write more here as I explore the natural world and gardening resources of Fields Corner.
Be well, be blessed, be natural
Amatul Hannan

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