HarvestFest is here again

The weather is amazing, leaves are changing, and pumpkin everything is on the shelves. And that means it must be time for Somerville Local First’s annual HarvestFest fundraiser.

I serve on the board of this small non-profit which supports local businesses in Somerville and promotes understanding of the local movement.

Since this post is clearly a shameless promotion of an organization which I care about, I’ll start with the fundraiser details (which I might call “deets” if I was more hip, which I’m not), then I’ll explain why I think it’s important.

Somerville Local First’s 5th Annual HarvestFest
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Session 1: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Session 2:
6:00 to 9:00 PM

Tickets range from $35-$55 depending on how generous you’re feeling, and will get you delicious food from some of Somerville’s best local restaurants, local beer from great Massachusetts brewers, live music, and some fun, harvesty games. Tickets can be bought online.

So, other than the fact that this will be a fun, awesome event (I feel like I should make posters proclaiming, “Free Beer!”), why should you care about the work of Somerville Local First (SLF)?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I believe in the importance of a local economy.

My grandfather owned his own bakery. My mother and her family lived above the bakery, and she spent much of her childhood helping out in the store. I imagine it with an optimistic 50s lens. Everyone got along and life was just perfect.

That image may be idealized (“…you think?” I can hear my aunts saying), but nonetheless, the bakery was important enough to my family’s character that my father built a model of the bakery. And sometimes, when we drove through the neighborhood the bakery had been in, my mother would say, “Right there…that’s where the bakery was.”

As an adult, I find that local business are the ones that really make an area a community. I walk in and people know my name. Business owners introduce themselves. People are friendly. It’s almost enough to look at modern life with an optimistic 50s lens.

And more than that. local businesses have character. And not tchotchke-wearing, manufactured character ala the restaurant in office space, but real character. Whether it’s my local gym where they have kettlebell painting contents, the local 80s themed restaurant where they host “Baywatch Bingo,” or the retail store where I can pick up Somerville t-shirts and signs. These are the businesses that make my community.

And they’re in real danger of going extinct. Big businesses can cut corners, save money in bulk, and squeeze out any hint of personality to become vastly efficient machines. Sometimes it’s faster, easier, or cheaper to shop from big business, but rarely is it better.

If all of us bought from corporations all the time, then that little slice of 50s innocence would be lost. And that would be a real tragedy. Of course, you can’t shop local all the time (disclaimer: my computer is not local), but when you can, please consider shopping local first.

Supporting these businesses is the work of SLF. Connecting them so they too can collaborate for bulk rates and jointly innovate for new endeavors. Supporting them in understanding laws, regulations, and changes in the political landscape. And educating people – not just consumers, but real, human people – about the value of shopping local.

Oh, and in case you missed it, here’s the link to support this great work: http://www.somervillelocalfirst.org/local-first-events/harvest-fest

See you there!

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