‘Some things are more important than profit’
By Tony Zeli
“If everybody is profiting off it a little bit, then we are all part of the problem. Which is not something that I think a lot of people think about,” said Jeff Beam, programming director and venue manager at One Longfellow Square (OLS). The nonprofit performing arts center is taking a stand against the privatization of water and moving to no longer carry Poland Spring water bottles at their venue.
Bill Creighton, a longtime OLS member, approached the venue and offered to help them transition away from relying on private bottled water for their visitors and performers.
“The privatization of water is an international issue,” said Creighton. “Every bottle of water consumed from a single-use container reinforces the model which suggest that it is okay for large corporations to take a resource which belongs to us all, market it, package it, and then sell it to us as though it were not already ours to start with. I wanted to shine light on that, and at the same time, invite members of my own community to become more aware and consider making different personal choices about whether or not to support those companies. I am deeply grateful that OLS is choosing to partner in this work.”
Meet the OLS ‘hydration station’
Thanks to a private donation from Creighton, One Longfellow Square now features a free “hydration station” in the lobby, providing filtered cold or hot water sourced from the city’s water supply. They also offer tea and provide compostable cups. And now, OLS is composting in partnership with Garbage to Garden.
Programing director Jeff Beam says the issue resonated with the staff and the nonprofit venue.“We did rely on a little bit of income from Poland Spring. A lot of places do.”
Beam estimated OLS could lose a couple thousand dollars by no longer selling bottled water, but they are happy to walk the talk. As a nonprofit listening room, OLS relies less on bar sales and more on ticket sales and membership.
“Using single-use water bottles is really just a matter of education and habit, so OLS is happy to help spread awareness about the issue and to promote ethical and healthy hydration habits,” said Beam. “Plus, it saves money for our concert-goers. We used to make a modest profit selling water bottles at the bar, but some things are more important than profits.”
Beam also noted that it is a better experience for customers, too. “Because people don’t even think twice about buying bottled water now… That’s four bucks extra that they don’t need to be spending.”
Creighton further helped the venue by donating 1,000 reusable OLS-branded water bottles, further encouraging the move away from single-use containers. The OLS water bottles will be available for purchase behind the bar and will be given to artists performing at the venue.
Tony Zeli is publisher and editor. OLS is an advertiser with the West End News.