Can Business Really Change All For Good?

I hesitated all weekend in writing this post, feeling that the words I would put onto paper would never fully articulate the thoughts in my head. This past week, my world was shaken, and the best laid plans of getting school work done in a timely fashion went out the window.

I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the more progressive cities in the US, and attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, one of the most ethnically diverse and prestigious public high schools in the country. Cambridge children are raised with a certain… je ne sais quoi… sense of entitlement and presence in the world. We walked through Harvard Yard to get to our high school every day, we prided ourselves on our cultured worldview, we were proud to be from Cambridge. I expected my high school to be in the news for the successes of its graduates. I never expected this.

I did not know either of the two boys involved in the tragedy in Boston this past week, though I know many people who knew them and many who knew their victims. There is a common theme amongst the conversations I’ve had with family and friends from home– no one can understand how this happened, or why. This didn’t happen in some sterile suburban neighborhood of economically-depressed middle America. This didn’t happen in a gun-happy conservative state. My worldview has been shaped by a belief that if we can just create strong, local living economies, we will foster happy, healthy citizens who care about each other and do not commit random, senseless acts of violence. Perhaps this seems like a giant stretch, and yet it has been a primary catalyst for my leaping into grad school– an underlying belief that business can change the world for good. And yet, this tragedy happened in a progressive, educated, diverse city with a strong local business culture.

On Friday, as my parents were stuck in their house on mandatory city-wide lockdown, I attempted to  begin my finance and quant homework, and struggled with the banality of it all. Who cared if my team could get the Garden Place case study balance sheet to actually balance? What did it matter which amazing project idea my food team finally chose to work on? For an entire day, I lived in a combination of anxiety and disbelief, unable to shut down the many tabs tracking updates Boston news stations, Twitter, and Facebook.

Here’s one thing that I do know: Bainbridge Graduate Institute is not only about changing business for good. BGI is also about changing communities for good. Though the value of BGI as an institution lies, in some capacity, in the career successes of its graduates, it is truly most revolutionary in the deep sense of community it fosters. Whether it is helping a fellow student recoup the losses from a stolen U-Haul or the simple act of holding space in morning circle, BGI’s community is authentic and transformational. Though this past week’s events broke my heart, I know that I will find solace and renewal amongst my peers and mentors at the upcoming intensive. My hope and dream is that BGI students will bring this profound experience of community outward– for this, I know, can truly change the world for good.

Emily Kanterabout the author

Emily Kanter is a Cohort 11 candidate for BGI’s MBA in Sustainable Systems. She has a background in sustainable food & agriculture, non-profit management, community engagement and local living economies. Emily currently lives in Portland, OR and is passionate about creating a strong local food system that benefits the entire community.


  1. Hava Dennenberg Thu, May 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm · Reply

    I often find that it can be difficult to articulate the thoughts in my mind in such a way that will capture the true essense of what it is that I am thinking….and to do so in a way that feels genuine anod accurate. Sometimes it’s just not possible, just as it may not be possible in some ways, to fathom or fully comprehend what it was that had these two individuals snap. Perhaps the “snapping” was an amalgam of factors that we cannot know or even begin to imagine because we are not able to access the minds of two people who ended up committing heinous, unforgettable crimes. When I read this part of your writing; “My worldview has been shaped by a belief that if we can just create strong, local living economies, we will foster happy, healthy citizens who care about each other and do not commit random, senseless acts of violence”, I paused to ask myself the following question, what can we do to find and create even deeper, richer ways in which to engage each and every citizen and in manners that allow those those individuals to feel truly fulfilled? Is this possible? If so, how can we start to bridge the gaps? As you suggested, perhaps the BGI community is one community in which to foster and spread these hopes and dreams. Some argue that the two brothers in this case were/are victims as well; victims of a larger society, that in spite of creating healthy, strong and local economies, has somehow alienated individuals along the way… Perhaps in part, that is what occurred here… may we continue to hope for a brighter future. Thank you for sharing, Emily.

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