Written by Matthew Battles for fastcompany.com
The recession isn’t new to the mill towns of the Northeast; they hit the skids long ago. Decades before the most recent economic collapse, proud, river-encircled cities from Maine to Pennsylvania had faded to mere shadows of the engines of productivity they were during the Industrial Revolution. In place of idle smokestacks and shattered windows, Shoe Town to Brew Town–billed as “a friendly forum over food and drink” to be held at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery–imagines another scene: historic manufacturies throbbing with the yeasty vapors of craft beer, and producing not only brew but sustainably raised fish, hydroponic produce, and enough natural gas to meet their own energy demands.
The project began as a notion hatched in the mind of New York restaurateur Jimmy Carbone. Imagining himself elected mayor of his hometown of Haverhill, Massachusetts, he had a vision of the city’s moribund shoe factories transformed into breweries. A co-creator of the “Good Beer Seal,” which certifies bars that show a commitment to craft brewing and local stewardship, Carbone was aware of the need for resource-intensive breweries to focus on sustainability. Working together, Carbone realized, beer producers, developers, and community groups could churn out a heady brew of opportunity and sustainability. The event, on July 19, gives brewers a chance to come together with activists, architects, and designers to talk about the catalytic potential of craft brewing.
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