In a few days, more than 700 Localists are expected to gather in Oakland for the 12th annual BALLE Conference. Held at the historic Scottish Rite Center overlooking Lake Merritt – and various other locations across Oakland and beyond. The 2014 BALLE Conference Prosperity for All is where you’ll find all the top thinkers and doers, movers and shakers that are proving that Local Living Economies can and are solving some of the toughest social and environmental problems of our time.

Each year, BALLE, which stands for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, partners with a local business network to co-host, and this year Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA) holds the distinction. SBA has deep ties to the Oakland community and plays a crucial role in promoting locally owned, independent businesses in the East San Francisco Bay Area. SBA has built a network of business owners, community residents and local government officials who share a common vision: to create a local economy based on relationships, the environment and social equity for all citizens – both current and future. BALLE also calls Oakland home, having moved into the new Impact Hub Oakland in March.

Oakland is a vibrant, artistic city that lives and breathes BALLE’s core belief of Prosperity for All. But we don’t need to sell fellow Oaklanders on how great we are. So instead, we asked a New Yorker. Not just any New Yorker, but one who co-hosted last year’s BALLE Conference in Buffalo. We asked BALLE 2013-14 Local Economy Fellow Harper S.E. Bishop to tell us why they are looking forward to coming to Oakland for Prosperity for All:

Harper S.E Bishop

Harper S.E Bishop

“I visited Oakland last year with my BALLE Fellow cohort. During one of our sessions, which was dedicated to community capital, Bill Thomason of E3 Innovation Fund, spoke directly to the origins of our current economic system being rooted in racial inequality – tracing its history from slavery through reconstruction and all the way until present day.

“That presentation remains one of the most impactful through a transformative two-year journey with my friends and colleagues in the Localist movement. It is one of the aspects that I value immensely each time I set foot on the Oakland soil. I have a sense that conversations like the ones that we had immediately following Bill’s aren’t rare occurrences. They take place hella often. And, they have been taking place for over half a century.

“The revolutionary actions of the Black Panther Party, Brown Berets, and other radical organizations that fought – continue the fight – against racism and bigotry, and for self-determination are felt throughout the city and reside in the pride of its inhabitants.

“It’s for these reasons, and many more, that when I think about the 12th Annual BALLE Conference being held in Oakland under the theme of Prosperity for All, I know that a more appropriate place does not exist, and that there are few as qualified to guide us through as nuanced a discussion as those who have continued to infuse people-making practices into this progressive bastion, including our gracious host Erin Kilmer-Neel, Director of the Sustainable Business Alliance, Nikki Silvestri, Executive Director of Green For All, and all the other incredible Localist leaders who will make Prosperity for All an incredible experience.”

We couldn’t have said it any better. Check out the agenda for the 12th annual BALLE Conference here, all the exciting parties and auxiliary events happening here, and register and see who else is coming here.

Anna Ghosh is the marketing and communications director for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), based in the Impact Hub Oakland.