Good Morning, Beautiful Business
The Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local-Economy Pioneer
By Judy Wicks
It’s not often that someone stumbles into entrepreneurship and ends up reviving a community and starting a national economic-reform movement. But that’s what happened when, in 1983, Judy Wicks founded the White Dog Café on the first floor of her house on a row of Victorian brownstones in West Philadelphia. After helping to save her block from demolition, Judy grew what began as a tiny muffin shop into a 200-seat restaurant-one of the first to feature local, organic, and humane food. The restaurant blossomed into a regional hub for community, and a national powerhouse for modeling socially responsible business.
Good Morning, Beautiful Business is a memoir about the evolution of an entrepreneur who would not only change her neighborhood, but would also change her world-helping communities far and wide create local living economies that value people and place as much as commerce and that make communities not just interesting and diverse and prosperous, but also resilient.
Wicks recounts a girlhood coming of age in the sixties, a stint working in an Alaska Eskimo village in the seventies, her experience cofounding the first Free People store, her accidental entry into the world of restauranteering, the emergence of the celebrated White Dog Café, and her eventual role as an international leader and speaker in the local-living-economies movement.
Her memoir traces the roots of her career – exploring what it takes to marry social change and commerce, and do business differently. Passionate, fun, and inspirational, Good Morning, Beautiful Business explores the way women, and men, can follow both mind and heart, do what’s right, and do well by doing good.
Reviews and Praise
Restaurateur and activist Wicks has been an inspiration and a model to her fellow Philadelphia businesses and to adherents to the sustainable-food movement for several decades. This charming memoir follows Wicks from her bucolic small-town childhood to her youthful disillusionment, short-lived marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and early adventures working with him for VISTA in Alaska, where she was struck by the community-focused value systems and vowed to replicate them in her own life. Back in Philadelphia, she and her first husband opened a store selling counterculture products, but, to Wicks’s chagrin, her husband ultimately did not have faith in her abilities. After their divorce, and other restaurant experience, she remarried and had two children, whom she raised above the restaurant she founded—the White Dog Cafe. The Cafe gained international acclaim for its socially responsible business, serving farm-fresh local food and building the local living economy movement. Though its audience is likely to be limited to those already sold on the local food movement, this book is a touching and passionate story of an activist who turned her values into a sustainable and financially solvent endeavor.
"Wicks first opened her restaurant, White Dog Cafe, on Sansom Street in Philadelphia in 1983. The restaurant became a beacon in the struggling neighborhood and known internationally for its commitment to farm-fresh, fairly traded, organic food—long before such eating habits were in fashion. Readers will be engaged and invigorated as they watch Wicks succeed with her innovative ideas; they’ll also be inspired as her perspective on the world grows in scope from her restaurant to her city to the whole world.
Wicks’ memoir begins far before she opens White Dog Cafe, when she built a fort in the woods at age nine. Readers who are expecting strictly business advice and activism information will wonder why she begins here—but the more literary reader will see that she is examining the power of a sense of place. As a child she felt a strong connection to the woods near her house; as an adult she feels a strong connection to Sansom Street, and eventually the world beyond.
Wicks’ memoir does a fantastic job of sharing how she’s learned and grown through her experiences and travels around the world. Readers will be inspired and will learn about the world and business along the way—but the readers who come away the most satisfied by
Good Morning, Beautiful Business will be those who never lose sight of the fact that Wicks is a sharing a memoir, a story; her goal is not to create a guidebook (though she has the skills and expertise to accomplish it).
While it’s a compelling memoir, readers who want to follow in Wicks’ footsteps would benefit more from a how-to book on the subject that uses Wicks’ success as a model, but emphasizes practical steps and advice for readers. Wicks shares her business knowledge and success with readers, but more than that, she shares her heart and her life."
"Judy Wicks' brilliance redefines what a business can be. The White Dog Café models what commerce will become if we are to create a livable future. This is business as spiritual practice, business as kindness, business as community, business as justice, joy, transformation, leadership, and generosity. There is nothing here you will learn in business school because the White Dog Café is not in the business of selling life; it's in the business of creating life. How blessed is Philadelphia and the world for her presence and prescience."--Paul Hawken, author, Blessed Unrest
"Judy Wicks followed her passion and trusted her heart; she uncovered and was guided by what makes healthy local businesses thrive; and then she led a movement to share her discoveries and help transform other local economies. Now, thanks to her vision and leadership, there are hundreds of communities unlocking the power of local commerce for good. What a gift from a true pioneer who shows us how to unite an avocation with a vocation!"--Will Raap, founder, Gardener’s Supply and Intervale Center
"Guided by her own powerful activist sensibility, Judy Wicks beautifully conveys the important influences that a restaurant, or any business, can have within a community—politically, economically, and socially."--Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and author of The Art of Simple Food
"Judy Wicks is something rare, invaluable, and essential in our time: a visionary artisan of cultural renaissance. Read this book. Learn what she’s done and, even more important, how she became who she is. Let her story inspire you more fully into your own cultural artistry."--Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft, Wild Mind, and Nature and the Human Soul
"Fun and funny, kind and savvy, Good Morning, Beautiful Business is a rollicking good tale about a rollicking good life. From working as a waitress at a restaurant she helps save from demolition at age 23, to becoming a world leader in the socially responsible business movement, activist-entrepreneur Judy Wicks shows how one woman can help build a compassionate, locally sourced economy--and have a blast doing so. These pages are as full of friendships, food, and dancing as they are of great ideas that could apply to businesses in any town. Judy Wicks is an inspiration. By the end of this wonderful book, she seems like an old friend whose example can change your life."--Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig
"If there ever is a Nobel Prize in planet-saving, Judy Wicks deserves to be the first recipient. Besides creating one of Philadelphia’s most popular restaurants (the White Dog Café), her legacy includes Pennsylvania’s local food movement, America’s fastest growing network of independent businesses, and entrepreneurs worldwide –especially women – whom she has inspired to make business the leading edge of social change. In this riveting, funny, and moving autobiography, Judy also reveals herself as a superb storyteller and a sharp policy critic. Her life story, which unfolds from the Arctic to Chiapas, shows how one passionate person really can bend the arc of history toward justice."--Michael H. Shuman, author, Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity
"Judy Wicks's journey is potent medicine for a culture that falsely separates personal life and work, self and community, business and environment, and entrepreneurship and activism. Anyone who wants to engage their full entrepreneurial vision, and find their own unique path that may combine seemingly disparate goals, can take heart: this remarkable story is a visionary beacon and joyful read."--Nina Simons, co-founder, Bioneers
"Beware. This is a business book like no other. It will change how you see the world, America, business, and the economy and should be required reading in every school of business and department of economics. Judy Wicks teaches us how to succeed at business while managing from the heart, having an outrageously good time, and measuring success as contribution to healthy communities and a world that works for all. Those who take Wicks and the White Dog as their model change the world one beautiful business at a time."--David Korten, cofounder of YES! Magazine and author of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community
"Wow. What a woman, what a book. In it, you enter the life of someone who, even as a child, learned that she could create—that she could make things and make things happen. We need Wicks’s confidence and courage now more than ever. So read it and you’ll get some. Her spunk is contagious."--Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want
"Judy Wicks is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She ran the legendary White Dog Café with passion, heart, common sense, and financial success. And she continues to blaze new paths on the road to a truly sustainable people-centered economy. This is a must-read book."--Ben Cohen, cofounder, Ben & Jerry's
"Judy Wicks is one of our great leaders and visionaries, and this books makes clear why. She thinks about traditional subjects ("business," "economics") in fresh, practical, real, and powerful ways. Read it and then live it yourself!"--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future