Owning a small business is a wild and often lonely ride and unless you have a rich uncle, a sympathetic banker or win a lottery ticket, it is a ride that demands you examine your core beliefs at every bump in the road –and there are always bumps in the road. Yet it is when things seem most dire that you return, again and again, to your core values and your passions.
When Jinx Davis and I started the Millennium Group 25 years ago we believed we could do good by doing business. We believed that in our small ways we could make the world a better place and make enough profit to support ourselves while also focusing on serious issues that affect people and communities. We were not sentimental or haughty about this belief; we simply knew it was the only way we could do business.
We are not noble creatures- not by far. We understood that building empathy, collaborating on charitable projects, connecting to those in need and building sustainable products and services was a way of life and that our business should always reflect this.
Twenty-five years later we are still at it. Today we live in a world where more and more businesses understand that they need to be out there providing something of worth, solving problems and making lives better. Collectively we should also aim to build a creative class that solves social problems. Across the country, a new breed of social entrepreneurs is looking to change the world through capitalism. Since the Great Recession, over 1,000 companies and 26 states have made a legal commitment to use business as a force for good. These organizations are seeing gigantic opportunities to work together to solve problems in their cities and beyond.
We’re just one tiny business. Yet for 25 years we have tried to create something that lasts and we have dug deeply into our own pockets to do so. After all these years we can declare one thing: we’re not phony.
It’s time we got better at letting our clients know how we’ve run our business in an environmentally and socially responsible way. In fact, we think it’s damn important. Customers expect companies to carry their weight when it comes to social responsibility and so do we.
In 1990, just as I was learning to build and service the growing technology industry, I invented a simple green building product called THE NAILER (a drywall backer) after searching for a better way to install drywall. After 20 years of construction, I had seen my share of wasted wood and labor and had received plenty of busted knuckles installing wood backing. There had to be a simpler way, and there had to be a way to be more conscientious about energy efficiency and the environment. THE NAILER is a simple product with a big impact and one of the greenest building products on the market. After years of marketing THE NAILER, fighting a federal patent infringement case when a competitor stole the design, and barely surviving the 2008 recession, I still stand by my belief that the building industry can no longer be cavalier about their business. We must meet the challenge to eliminate safety issues, seek sustainable solutions to honor the environment, and optimize material and labor costs. Our clients join us in the belief, that in the end, we are each responsible for the choices we make and the legacy we leave behind.
Learn more: THE NAILER
In 1994 Jinx Davis started a sister nonprofit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization registered as The Mode Theatre Living Arts Corporation, DBA Living Arts Corporation. The Living Arts Corporation has remained a small group of ordinary people who have volunteered their time and support to create small extraordinary acts. Over the years the Millennium Group has donated over $270,000 to help this charitable organization engage people with the arts and address social issues.
Since 1994, the Living Arts Corporation has produced 50 original theatrical performances, performed in over 500 schools around the nation, distributed 10,000 + books to rural children, supplied living and studio space to 15 visual artists, hosted 50 art exhibitions, provided grants for research and creative projects, entertained the public with 20 ft. puppets commissioned from Carnival artists in Trinidad, West Indies, and partnered with major retail chains to deliver over $600,000 of home goods to marginalized families, veterans and people in crisis. In 2015 we conceived of the Soul Shoe Project to assist in raising awareness and engagement to stop the silence around the fact that a child dies a violent death every 5 minutes.
Jinx has built the Living Arts Corporation a striking new website and has scheduled a performance series of one-woman shows for May that will be delicious, wicked, mesmerizing and heartfelt dramas on life.
She also announces the Soul Shoe Project, a public engagement of thought and action to draw attention to Unicef’s announcement that a child dies every five minutes from violence. In the report “Children in Danger: Act to End Violence against Children” – published to mark the launch of the Children in Danger campaign – the organization reveals that the vast majority of children are killed outside warzones and that physical, sexual and emotional abuse is widespread with millions of children unsafe in their homes, schools and communities. Some 345 children could die from violence each day in the next year, unless governments act.
The Living Arts website describes itself with these words: “In everything we do, we try to connect. The arts help shape personal and global culture. They provide clues to tackle challenges and engage in improving the state of the world, whether in a small neighborhood or on a grand scale. We trust in the potential of experience to illicit more empathy, birth new ideas, shift our perceptions and lead to action. We understand that the role of art is to make discomfort more comfortable.”
The Millennium Group is about more than just building computers, installing networks and solving technology problems for homes and business. As Jinx states, “We hold things dear. We do our work without fanfare and with the knowledge that life obliges us to connect and provide personal attention. We commit to small acts that may encourage others and believe in the inherent generosity of humans.”
We invite to explore www.THENAILER.com and learn about our green building product and we urge you to read about all of our charitable activities at www.livingartscorp.org. Jinx will be sharing more of her new projects with you soon but until she does we hope you spend some time reading what has been written about our work. Your involvement, suggestions and support will be deeply appreciated.
Without our customers we would not be able to do any of the things we do.
Thank you for holding hands with us.