Michael Bontager is well known and respected in our community as an entrepreneur and a current or past board member of several area non-profits.  Michael is currently serving on the board of directors of Longwood Gardens.
The basis of Michael's strategic approach to Kennett Square economic and cultural development has been profoundly affected by a book he read, The Logic of Failure: Why things go wrong and what we can do to make them right; by Dietrich Dorner. The book is based on a 10 year study of how we can solve problems effectively. We must keep in mind not only many separate features but also the influences among or between them.  Complexity is the label given to the situation where there are many interdependent variables in a system. The more variables and the greater their interdependence, the greater the system’s complexity.  Great complexity places high demands on the community planner’s capacity to gather information, integrate findings, and design effective actions. The links between the variables oblige us to attend to a great many variables or features simultaneously, and that makes it impossible for us to undertake only one action to effectively change a complex system. The interrelatedness of the variables guarantees an action aimed at one variable will have side effects and long-term repercussions among other variables.  Simply stated, no decision can be made in isolation. Therefore, “Adhoc-ism”, or taking quick individual actions,  has detrimental effects for the community.  Community leaders and elected officials must think holistically.
Once Michael provided this perspective, he proceeded to explain his passion for Kennett Square through four areas of focus: 1) employment; 2) Life Satisfaction; 3) Housing; and, 4) Capital Formation. All must be worked together to really impact life in Kennett Square.
The name Square Roots Collective’s is an aggregate of the vision itself: “Square” represents Kennett Square; “Roots” represents faith, the foundation of his passion for Kennett Square, “I grew up here” he said.  “Collective” has to do with the constituent contributors, four area churches, multiple non-profits and for profits, lots of people and lots of groups.
Michael explained that “The Creamery” represents the for-profit component of his effort. It provides employment, preserves history, and displays local art. This single effort impacts life satisfaction and capital formation.  The Square Roots Collective has begun with housing as its non-profit initiative.  Maple Grove Housing, the development Michael is working on,  is a new model for those in our community on the edge of falling into the cracks of homelessness. Two other initiatives under the Square Roots Collective are the Kennett Trail Alliance and Constellation Network. Together we can pull together to solve systemic issues in our community moving the needle to make Kennett Square an even better place in which to live.