Creating Hope for Others

Titus Salt was the son of a father who worked in the woolen trade. His education was largely practical, but he was challenged to relate to his classmates due do his shy nature. Titus was studious but really struggled with decision making and public speaking. Given his background, it is surprising that he was one of the leaders in the development of the concept of corporate social responsibility.

Titus began his working career as an apprentice in the textile trade. Then he joined with his father in creating a textile business. He took a gamble by creating a new business using alpaca wool. The business was very successful, and Titus became very wealthy.

Rather than use his wealth to create a vast estate, he decided to create a new settlement called Saltaire, centered around his manufacturing facility. The settlement contained not only the manufacturing complex but also cottages, retail shops, a school, churches, and recreational facilities. The environment for Saltaire was also clean in contrast to most industrial communities. He was creating hope for a new society.

In addition to creating a unique industrial environment, Titus also provided for the living needs of workers including running water in their homes, natural gas outlets, and outdoor lavatories. Workers were able to eat in a dining room and space was provided for speakers. Wash houses were also provided on the factory site.

Titus, in spite of his shyness, was active in politics, holding public office. He was especially involved in assuring adults had the right to vote and he was also opposed to laws affecting the poor. Titus gave away most of his wealth when he was alive and his business disappeared 16 years after his death. The community he created survived long after his death.

When you reflect on the life of Titus Salt, you have to be impressed how he realized his hope for a more humane society even with his own personal challenges. Realizing our hopes is not just something that is limited to the privileged. Anyone with a passion and drive can achieve their hopes if they are realistic.

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“The cholera most forcibly teaches us our mutual connection. Nothing shows more powerfully the duty of every man to look after the needs of others. Cholera is God’s voice to his people.” – Titus Salt (speech given after a cholera epidemic)

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