Ben Blevins was “radicalized” after a mission trip during his freshman year of college to Central America. As one minister said, “he was someone who took the volunteer in mission experience more seriously than the church intended.” While appreciating the life-changing benefits of the experience, Ben was concerned by the negative impacts of the mission program on local communities. While not understanding anything about social work or community development, it was obvious that the programming promoted by the church was exasperating problems rather than empowering native populations.
Originally enrolled in college as a Theater major, Ben’s experience prompted his switch to a study in economic development in the Third World (not his choice of language). Ben was most interested in how to foster transformational experiences to raise awareness and passion for social justice amongst North American youth through cross-cultural experiences while at the same time promoting sustainable and just development for partner communities. After graduating from the University of Richmond, he traveled to Guatemala as a human rights worker, and in the early 1990s, he became aware of the cooperatives movement and experienced the positive long-term benefits the movement accomplished. He was “sold” on the potential for small business development as a more appropriate response to the causes of poverty than the dependency-laden models of charity and child sponsorship programs.
Ben is also the Co-founder of AlterNatives and managing trustee of Common Good Trust, a holding company for socially responsible business ventures that are developed to put into practice ethical standards and ecological sustainability. Ben is also an Eagle Scout, high school offensive line coach, avid drummer, and vegan baker. His latest development is a fabulous recipe for tofu-based blueberry crepes.
Brian Blevins-Ramirez - Store Manager
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