“go local”

“Go Local,” is a phrase most of us hear if we are supportive of local, sustainable practices and local, small businesses.  A lot of us, however, have been “going local” for a long time (or “going locally” if you were my 7th grade grammar teacher).  To “go local” isn’t about just being cool and urban.  It is also about a commitment and tradition.

When I was a young girl, my hometown proposed a revitalization project that would have revamped a large portion of downtown to become a “mall.”  My dad was in support of the revitalization as he could see that it would bring people back

go local

into downtown Asheville.  At the time, the old Woolworth still stood on the corner but most buildings were slowly deteriorating.

When he stuck his “Vote Yes” sign in the front yard in preparation for voting day, I remember asking him what it meant.  We talked at dinner about the meaning of his sign, and I remember sitting there and disagreeing with him.  If Asheville were going to be revitalized, I wanted it to be for local businesses and benefit.

My parents were very supportive of my social justice streak and invited me to make my own sign.  Mom bought me some foam board, and I made my own “Vote No” sign (with my 1980’s bubble letters colored in).  Dad helped me hammer it onto a post then into the ground in our yard.  It was one of my proudest moments as a child.

The eve of the vote, I waited on the edge of my chair for the outcome.  I ended up going to bed before the count had been taken, but the next day I awoke to the decision–no mall!   “Going local” had won!

Going local is more than a current movement celebrated in the media–it’s about:

  • tradition and appreciating those who have been local for a long time
  • a way of life, not a bumper sticker
  • a commitment to supporting those who are truly local and invest back in the local community
  • embracing everything that makes “local” something to celebrate–diversity, home town appeal, history, etc.
  • appreciating the simplicity of what “local” means–it’s more than designer “local” boutiques and coffee shops–it also includes those who grow our food, who govern the town, and who invest in local resources

So please, “go local,” but when you do, consider what it is you’re going local for.  I encourage you to make it more than a statement that you post on the back of your car–make it a way of life.

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