News & Events

UMPI Distinguished Lecturer Judy Wicks to speak on local living economies

The University of Maine at Presque Isle is pleased to present Judy Wicks – the founder of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia, the co-founder of the nationwide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and the founder of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia – as its next Distinguished Lecturer.

Wicks will deliver her talk Local Living Economies: Green, Fair and Fun on Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the UMPI Campus Center. Responding to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion, and the global financial crisis, Wicks will discuss the growing localization movement that is transitioning from an economy dominated by multinationals and long distance shipping to local living economies that produce basic needs at home while working in harmony with nature.

With her roots as an entrepreneur and activist, Wicks will address the flawed paradigm of continuous growth, and how businesses can grow deeper in their communities to build local self-reliance while creating greater happiness and long term security.

Judy Wicks is featured in the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait exhibition created by past UMPI Distinguished Lecturer Robert Shetterly. According to Shetterly, the purpose of the portrait series is to find great Americans who speak the truth and combine their images with their words. The words that accompany Wicks’ portrait are: “I’m helping to create an economic system that will respect and protect the earth – one which would replace corporate globalization with a global network of local living economies. Business is beautiful when it’s a vehicle for serving the common good.”

In 2004, Inc Magazine named Judy Wicks one of America’s 25 most fascinating entrepreneurs, “because she’s put in place more progressive business practices per square foot than any other entrepreneur.” Wicks started the White Dog Café as a simple muffin shop on the first floor of her house in 1983 and grew it into a “Philly institution,” with over 100 employees including the adjacent retail store, the Black Cat. In 2009, Wicks sold the business through a unique exit strategy that continues the White Dog’s sustainable practices through a “social contract” and insures local independent ownership.

Under Wicks’ leadership, White Dog was best known for buying organic produce, and pastured meat and poultry from local family farmers, and also acted as a center for dialogue on progressive issues with frequent speakers, storytelling, film series, and local and international tours. For many years, the company contributed 20% of profits to the White Dog Café Foundation with programs aimed at growing a local living economy in the Philadelphia region. The café also supported alternative energy by purchasing all of its electricity from wind-generated power.

Wicks has won numerous awards, including the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2005 and the Philadelphia Sustainability Awards Lifetime Achievement in 2007. She was also included in Oprah Magazine’s “5 Amazingly Gifted and Giving Food Professionals.”

Wicks is a frequent guest on lecture platforms as well as on radio and television. She has appeared on Nightline, MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, CNN, and numerous local TV and radio shows. She and the Café have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Fortune Small Business, Washington Post, Whole Earth Magazine, Utne Reader, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The University’s Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

Wick’s lecture at UMPI is free and the public is invited to be a part of this special evening. For more information, contact the University’s Media Relations Office at 768-9452.