The Micro Brewery

The Micro Brewery

Darion has lived in East Van for ten years, and works in a local pub. He has never liked the big beer brands that his pub sells—he finds the beer flavourless and uninspired, and doesn’t like the business model of the big beer monopolies. About eight years ago, he and some of his colleagues began homebrewing and have made some small batches of beer that are a big hit with their friends at summer parties. Darion and his colleagues decide to begin saving money to try to start up a microbrewery to make their fine, small-batch craft beers. Darion put in extra hours at the pub, doesn’t take any holidays, and even moves into a smaller apartment on Main Street, north of Chinatown, so that he can save money to begin his dream business.

After five years of hard work and saving, Darion and his colleagues—now his business partners—find a space they can afford to rent for the brewery in a neighbourhood next to the Downtown Eastside. They begin to arrange for all the municipal licenses they need to set up their brewery, and they hire a lawyer to complete the paperwork. They decide to hire and train staff from the neighbourhood, because they know that skilled jobs in the area are hard to find, and they want to do good things for their community as much as for their future clientele.

But as word spreads about the proposed microbrewery, some people in the neighbourhood begin to organize against it. They aren’t happy with this business coming in. The proposed brewery site is across the street from a community centre, which runs support programs for local teenagers, to keep them out of trouble in a neighbourhood where drugs are easy to come by. Some long-term residents see the brewery as part of a gentrification process that will push them out of the area that they have called home for their whole lives, and the community that they have worked hard to sustain. A small group of the local residents see alcohol itself as inherently problematic—a highly addictive, highly seductive tool of oppression that prevents people from vulnerable populations from achieving their full potential. They see alcohol as part of a system that keeps poor people poor. These locals don’t have as much of a problem with the new artisanal coffee shop in the neighbourhood, but they have deep concerns about putting in a “tasting room” in an area already known for its high concentration of people with addictions. They worry about what such easy access to alcohol may mean for their kids. They have seen what alcoholism can do.

Darion wants to respect their local community’s concerns, but he thinks these people are wrong. Plus, he has worked so hard for so long in a project that he believes in. He and his lawyer get the lease and the new business license signed.


How would you adjudicate the argument between Darion and the local community? Do you think that there exists a solution that addresses both of their needs and values?

In your answer, try to consider the following guiding questions.

1.  Articulate the primary values that motivate Darion and the community. (They may be motivated by different values).

2.  Does Darion’s decision really follow from the values that you have attributed to him? Does the community’s argument really follow from the values that you have attributed to them? Why, or why not?

3.  Can you articulate solutions that reconcile their values, or are they incompatible? If you can, how would you persuade Darion and the community of the value of these solutions?




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