Exploring connections between local living, community collaboration & prosperity in today’s economy

Local Living  benefits community, the economy and the environment!

Consider these facts:

  • Small business accounts for 75% of all new jobs.
  • When you spend $100 at an independent business, $68 returns to the local community. Spend that same amount at a national chain and it drops to $43.
  • For every square foot a local firm occupies, the local economy gains $179 vs. $105 for a chain store.
  • Locally-owned businesses reinvest in the local economy at a 60% higher rate than chains and Internet retailers.
  • Small businesses employ just over half all U.S. workers.
  • Small businesses create more than half the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Locally-owned and operated businesses create higher-paying jobs for you and your neighbors.

The economic growth trend toward globalization is based on false assumptions:

  • Consumerism is threatening the planet, natural resources are stretched to the breaking point and yet we have an economic system that encourages us to consume more and more.
  • Our current economic model is based on infinite growth on a finite planet, which is a recipe for disaster. Political leaders believe that more economic growth is the answer to all our problems — bailouts to big banks, stimulus to make us spend more, carbon trading schemes — but all these do is reinforce a system that is inherently broken.
  • Our way of measuring our worth is so twisted says Helena Norberg-Hodge, that when there is “an oil spill, the GDP goes up; when drinking water is so polluted we have to buy it in bottles, GDP goes up. War, cancer, epidemic illnesses — all of these involve an exchange of money, so they end up on the positive side of the balance sheet.”
  • Globalization’s “success” is often attributed to efficiencies of scale, but mostly it is fueled by deregulation and hidden subsidies that make food from around the globe cost less than food from down the street.  Politicians promote free market capitalism, but our system is anything but that.

What you can do: (from 3 Ways to Help your Community Go Local):

  • As a consumer, look at the big stuff first.
    Our choices for bank accounts, groceries, and energy consumption, for example, can play a big role in helping promote local self-sufficiency. Some groups ask residents to shift 10 percent of their spending from outside entities or chains to local businesses.
  • As a citizen, exercise your right to participate in spending decisions.
    Learn where your tax money is spent. Can your city or town source more office supplies from local dealers? More school lunches from local ranchers and farmers? Are local governments using local insurers, banks, and suppliers? Learn about the current situation from purchasing officials (including their opinions) and available tools, such as local purchasing preferences and farm to school programs to inform suggestions.
  • Get involved. Join a local environmental or social advocacy group.  Reach out to neighbors, attend local events, get to know your community.  Transition SC has some great resources for this:  http://transitionsc.org/neighborhoods, as does SubRosa Community Project, http://www.subrosaproject.org/.

Resources:

International Society for Ecology and Culture

Living Economies