How a shoe repair shop bouncing back from tragedy can be a model for a new economy.
True
CNBC's The Profit

Ronda Morrison runs a shoe repair shop in Detroit. It's a family business dating back over 60 years.

And with a name like "House of Morrison Shoe Repair," they obviously want it to stay in the family. That's where Ronda's 25-year-old nephew Keenon came in.


Ronda and Keenon Morrison. Image via New Economy Initiative/Detroit Lives!/Vimeo.

Keenon had worked with Ronda in House of Morrison since he was a kid, learning the ropes to one day run the business, as his grandfather and aunt had done before him.

All GIFs via New Economy Initiative/Detroit Lives!/Vimeo.

But tragedy struck the family, and House of Morrison's future took a turn.

On the July 4, 2014 holiday weekend, Keenon and his 16-year-old brother Kalen died in a car accident. Reeling from the loss, Ronda began to lose her will to keep running the family business.

"My plans went totally down the drain with his death," Ronda told the Detroit Free Press. "When that happened, the House of Morrison's fate was on the chopping block."

Ronda pushed on, deciding that getting back to work might help her cope. And it turned out her timing was perfect.

Before the accident, she'd applied for a $10,000 small business grant with the Detroit New Economy Initiative (NEI). Amid the grief over the loss of her nephews, she had completely forgotten about the application.

But two days after Ronda returned to work, she got a letter.

She took it as a sign that House of Morrison was meant to persevere.

With the money, Ronda can do more than keep the business open. She can help others learn the trade.

The grant gives her a chance to do more of what her father always wanted for House of Morrison. "I'm going to do exactly what my father did," she says. "Open his door to train people out of the community."

Their proposal included launching an apprentice program for members of their community struggling to find work, investing in business software that will help them be more efficient, and opening new locations once they've built up their customer base.

Small businesses like House of Morrison are working to rebuild Detroit through people-centered enterprise.

In 1950, Detroit, a manufacturing powerhouse, was the richest city per capita in the United States. As people flocked to job opportunities in the Motor City, the population swelled to over 1.8 million.

Detroit in 1942. Photo by Arthur Siegel, U.S. Office of War Information/Wikimedia Commons.

But free trade gave companies a way to boost their profits by moving manufacturing operations to countries with cheaper labor and fewer regulations, putting millions of American workers out of work.

And Detroit was in the middle of it all.

The city saw an exodus as the jobless became economic refugees in new cities.

In 2010, the population had shriveled to just over 700,000. And in 2013, Detroit became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Since then, Detroit has become a canvas for creative ideas to spur urban renewal.

And groups like NEI are helping by funding small businesses, like House of Morrison, that "represent the innovation and ingenuity of Detroit's small business market."

As the country continues to bounce back from the Great Recession, we should look to Detroit for ways to do it that go beyond the conventional economics that brought the city and the country to their knees in the first place.

Watch NEI's profile of House of Morrison:

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less