Today’s Lesson: Be a Local
How do we get back to our roots? How do we fix our economies and our communities? How do stress less and live more? One answer that’s getting a lot of acknowledgement is the local movement. This movement encourages people to buy from local stores and companies but, it doesn’t end there. We can get our entertainment locally buy supporting local artists. We can listen and support local radio so that we truly know what’s going on in our communities. We can get out and get involved with our neighbors to fix problems and celebrate successes. We have become silent bystanders in our own lives and if we want change we need to wake up and start being an active player in our communities.
This whole winter I’ve been able to find these amazing local apples. They are truly the best tasting apples I’ve ever had. They’re perfectly crisp and sweet with just the right balance of acidity. And the best part is they’re local. If we support local businesses most of the money we spend stays within our community. Local businesses are also more likely to hire other local businesses when they need things done, like their taxes. Do you think Wal-Mart hires a local company in your town to do their taxes? I don’t think so. Picture this, a local grocery store buys from a local farm, the local farm uses a local mechanic to work on their machines, the local mechanic goes to a local restaurant for a night out, the local restaurant buys it’s beer from a local brewery. The local brewery gets its grain from a local company. This local grain company treats the local land well because it cares where it lives; it cares about its community and wants it to be healthy. This is the difference we can make if we buy local. We can support the members in our community and also take better care of our environment. And I promise that most often you will have a more positive experience at a local business than you will at a national chain.
Think this some utopian idea, that it’s impossible? Think again. Yes it takes more time and effort than going to Wal-Mart but it’s worth it. For instance I have to go to three different local stores to get the local products I want. One store has the local eggs, one has the local apples, and one has the local flour. These stores aren’t mega marts filled with awful florescent lighting and terrible 80’s instrumental music. These stores aren’t taking their bottom line out of our communities while putting locals out of business. These local stores are quaint, unique and fun places where one constantly gets to see new food, new items and learn new things. I trust the people that work at these stores because they are also concerned with our community. You will not find this at a Wal-Mart I guarantee you.
Our economy could flourish if we localized ourselves, we could become more self sufficient, self-sustaining, and community based. Our local communities have so much to offer, so next time instead of going to Applebee’s go to the little place down the street that’s owned and operated by a local. Instead of going to Wal-Mart go to the local co-op, instead of going to the next blockbuster staring some idiot making millions go to a local concert or gallery stroll. Instead of listening to mind numbing crappy music on the radio tune into your local stations and see what’s really going on. Put your money in a local bank or credit union instead of a giant monster that only hurts our economy, and shop at local boutiques instead of the mall.
We’ll never shut out the rest of the world and that’s not the point, but by going as local as possible we can effect real change in the worlds in which we actually live. We can’t wait for someone else to make the world better so we need to do it ourselves. Start a neighborhood organization, plant a garden (nothings more local than that), volunteer and support locals. From now on when you’re going to put your money anywhere besides you’re pocket think…. “How can I make the local choice?”
*A great book to read if you want to get even more local advice is Deep Economy by Bill McKibben
* A wonderful documentary on this issue is The Economics of Happiness http://www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org