by Erin Anderson
At a conference entitled Art & Power in Movement at UMass-Amherst, I approached Professor Emeritus Sonia Sanchez with a question that had been nagging at me in the work I was doing at the time. “How do we work to overcome fear and oppression within our communities?” Her response: “My sister, in whatever you do, you must build a united front.”
If there is one thing that can tie us together as women, as human beings (all politics and histories aside) it is the acknowledgement of the need to invest in something that is beyond usundefineda world that we feel is a safer, happier, and more honest place for future generations. It pivots on the point of healthy communities, comprehensive education, access, families, children, culture, and the local economy.
In 2001, Wendell Berry wrote:
“The idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. In a viable neighborhood, neighbors ask themselves what they can do or provide for one another, and they find answers that they and their place can afford. This, and nothing else, is the practice of neighborhood. This practice must be, in part, charitable, but it must also be economic, and the economic part must be equitable… But a viable neighborhood is a community; and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common.”
Go Local MetroBoston believes in highlighting existing community strengths to educate about what is local and celebrate the impact individual choice has on community prosperity. Communities are empowered knowing their existing strengths can create substantial and immediate change. Our choice to support local business caters to each vendor and their family’s ability to thrive and our overall success as a MetroBoston community. The economic impact of big box versus local and independent has been researched and written.
For example, in 2007 Civic Economics issued a San Francisco Retail Diversity Study:
$1 million spent at local bookstores, for example, creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the area, including $119,000 in wages paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages. If residents were to redirect just 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, that would generate $192 million in additional economic activity in San Francisco and almost 1,300 new jobs.
Go Local Austin’s model has had a 10% population saturation rateundefined620 member businesses and over 174,000 go local cards in circulation. Boston deserves this same type of community investment. Go Local MetroBoston’s model has been tailored and designed by each individual community to celebrate Boston’s robust diversity and history. To parallel this we also want to create a conversation that speaks to an area as a whole. Meaning, we believe that Cambridge can only be as economically viable as Dorchester and vice versa. Our city is deeply seeded in history and culture and it is something that we want to preserve and showcase to the rest of the nation. We are proud of the aspects that make us unique our local businesses, artists, community based organizations, and community residents.
The concept of the local economy is defined by our experience multicultural and multigenerational and the honest relationships that are fostered in result of these connections. It’s knowing the name of your grocer, farmer, butcher, hairstylist, and chiropractor, etc; and truly caring about their life story, family, and overall success.
A recurring emotional, human-to-human interaction, triggers empathy and understanding of a collective experience. Although we often need an incentive to nudge us in a new direction, loyalty is not based on discounts or rewards. Our loyalties lie within those who are part of our social fabric. This is how we grow as human beings. This is how we invest. This is how we build a united front.
photo credit: Boston Skyline by Erin Anderson