I’ve been called to the gratitude challenge, but rather than follow the rules I’ll be posting each day about an organization whose work I am grateful for.
Somerville Local First is my chapter of the local movement. They provide technical assistance to help locally-owned, independent businesses, they build awareness of the local movement, and they serve as a gathering place for all things Somerville-local.
I have served on the board for about three years.
So why is the “local” movement important?
For me, the local movement is based on a simple premise: our communities are better when our businesses are part of the community.
To be fair, I do my share of corporate shopping. Sometimes, there’s not a locally-sourced alternative. Sometimes…well, sometimes that’s just how it goes.
But it kind of creeps me out that when I go to a Target in Somerville, MA its exactly the same as the Target in Oakland, CA. And it kind of creeps me out that they’ve expanded their grocery section so what used to be a dangerous sinkhole is now a total black hole – or am I the only one who goes in looking for one specific thing and comes out with a dozen things, which maybe I need but which really I don’t need.
And the whole time I’m there I don’t really have a human interaction. I just fall into a soporific daze where suddenly I really need an awkward-print blouse and a dorm-room organizer.
I mean. Not there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s gotta be more to life.
I prefer shopping local because I get to know the business owners and they get to know me. Because local shopping is a whole different experience – a happy slice of the ’50s without everything wrong with the ’50s.
Because local business owners are weird and they express the weird character of the community.
I could give you all sorts of figures about how shopping local is better for the environment, how shopping local creates more local jobs and puts more money into the local economy.
These are important, but that’s not what moves me.
What moves me about the local movement is that – when I look out on the landscape of businesses and companies I interact with, I know that some will be cold and distant, some will be carefully crafted brands with complex shelf-placement strategies designed to target core consumers.
But some businesses will just be people with an idea. People who think they have something to contribute. Who want to be part of the community and who try to make the community better through their work.
And with all the money, planning and resources those big businesses leverage to get my consumer dollars…it takes a thoughtful effort as a person to remember to shop local. To support the kinds of businesses I want in my community.
To support the kind of community I want in my life.