Our guiding principles were inspired by this story:
Mr. Lincoln's Stone Soup
After three days of fighting at Gettysburg, four lost, hungry and penny-less soldiers stumbled into a small village several miles from that epic battle.
Many villagers turned out to see the visitors. But when the soldiers requested a meal, each villager claimed that, because of the war, they had no food to spare. The Army of the Potomac had regulations against poaching or foraging on private property in Union states, so the soldiers were facing another day without food.
One soldier approached an old woman and asked if he could borrow a large pot. He then asked her permission to fill it at her well and to set a cooking fire near the road.
At the edge of the road in front of the woman’s house, the soldiers built a fire under her enormous pot and began to boil the water. The first soldier reached into a small, hard tack pouch that hung from his belt and pulled out a small round stone that he dropped into the water.
Curious villagers gathered around to watch the spectacle. A few looked into the pot and noticed that the stone had dissolved and slightly tinted the color of the water. They did not realize that the soldier had boiled a clay marble and not a magic stone.
The soldier then took a small taste of the clay broth and declared “This is very good, but if I had some salt to add, it would be most satisfying!”
A young woman in the crowd responded to the soldier’s hint and ran back to her house to get some salt. With another taste and a hint for an onion, the soldier got his onion, as well as suggestions about what else should go into a proper soup.
Soon, most of the villagers were running to their homes to fetch their favorite soup ingredients to add to the pot. Vegetables and spices, ham bones and even several pounds of salt pork soon filled the pot with soup and the air with the aroma of a banquet.
That day, the entire village feasted on “Mr Lincoln's Stone Soup” until they could eat no more.
Since that time, the women of the village add a clay marble to their soups and stews in hopes of re-experiencing the warm feelings of that day with their families and their friends.
CAUTION! Glass or steel marbles are no substitute for clay marbles and may be a choking hazard.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION!
What is There
A typical landlord in North Philly starts as a blue collar worker with a dream: Buy a run down row house, fix it up and make a good profit from the rental income. If things go well, they can repeat the process with other properties and retire at a young age with lots of income.
Most are under-funded, ill-prepared amateurs who rapidly get in over their heads. Throughout their ownership, the amateur landlords are collecting rents that are "market value", often even before the upgrades and repairs are started. That is substantially higher than the monthly, fair trade rent of 2% of the building's market value
Before long, they are jumping from one patch job to the next, paying "contractors" who usually over-charge and under-deliver. Anticipated profits get depleted as they become payments to stabilize the building's continuing decay. Patch-And-Pay-As-You-Go ultimately leads to tenant dissatisfaction and financial disaster for building owners.
What it Can BecomeUrban Fair Trade has developed, and is continuing to develop, ways in which the private sector can partner with the businesses and residents of Philadelphia to leverage the entrepreneurial residents of the city into more satisfying lives and circumstances. While those ways may, on the surface, seem unrelated, each will play a critical role in those transformations.
- PRIMARY PURPOSE: To convert a family asset into a financially-solid investment opportunity.
- SECONDARY PURPOSE: To help re-acquaint new generations with traditional family ties and nutritious "comfort food".
- PRIMARY PURPOSE: To assist landlords and property owners in improving and upgrading their properties.
- SECONDARY PURPOSE: To assist individuals and families in flipping property for their own use as first homes.
- PRIMARY PURPOSE: To give thousands of Philadelphia youth bamboo flutes and DIY training
- SECONDARY PURPOSE: To challenge Saint Petersburg, Russia for The Guinness World Record for most instrument players of a national anthem
- PRIMARY PURPOSE: To create business alliances that enrich entrepreneurs of any size.
- SECONDARY PURPOSE: To provide non profits with a framework for converting "in kind" donations of any kind into more personally useful products and services.