Off the topic of travel, but something that I'm coming across in my travels are these interrelated questions, “Is growth always necessary or desired? Does progress equal growth?”
I first came across this idea a few months ago, having a conversation with a friend who was working for a food truck in Boston. She was talking about some of the good things about the food truck and some of the critiques she had of this particular food truck owner/ founder (this friend wants to start her own food truck someday, which is why she's been working for one). She was critical of how this food truck owner was so bent on growing and expanding the food trucks– creating more and more trucks with the brand and even opening up a storefront, I think– that my friend felt the quality and the essence of the truck was being lost. And along with that, the owner was just working like crazy.
We both commented that growth doesn't always need to be the goal in business (although in a capitalist, and American, system, it seems that IS the goal). What's so wrong with building a good solid food truck with good products and a stable customer base? Why is the goal always to grow and grow until you cannot grow anymore?
Since that conversation, I've come across this idea of going local and staying small (family gardens, for example), where sustainability is the goal, not profit. And I'm of the mind that growth is not always key. Of course, this can't be applied to everything, but I'm feeling in terms of business, lifestyle and living, it is kind of a radical idea.
I'm reading Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, and came across a chapter about David Chang, of Momofuku fame. He's a workaholic (seems to be a common thing among us Korean Americans) and is driving toward perfection. He's grown his business with multiple restaurants, a book, and other things, and yet he is still restless for more. Bourdain asks him what makes a good day for him, and Chang talks about going from restaurant to restaurant and seeing people working hard and diligently, all aiming for excellence in service and food delivery. And he said that's rare, especially because he can't be at every restaurant every minute monitoring as his businesses grow.
My thought is, when things grow to larger and larger proportions, you lose quality because you, as the founder/ owner, don't have as much ability to keep an eye on everything. Yes, it's a bit of a control thing, but it's also the idea that as things grow, they tend to get diluted. And then people start to cut corners. And then you do whatever you can to keep costs down and profits up, often at the expense of the quality of the product itself. Then it becomes an industrial system. At least that's my analysis of it. We see that happen to any product where it becomes more of a commodity (food, clothes, ideas, things) and the essence of that product is gone.
How do we change people's thinking to not always focus on scalability and growth and more focus on sustainability and consciousness of human and earth health?
Just some food for thought. At least for me!