Thursday, April 16, 2009

Small and Local

It's clear that this economic downturn/recession whatever you call it is having some good results. Not all the results are good, of course, losing your job or not being able to get credit for your small business are not good things but don't rule out the possibility that something good could come out of it. It often does. Losing your job may send you back to school. Some couples are finding they can live on one paycheck while the other goes back to school. It means cutting back but even then some people are finding that is a good thing.

Yesterday was tax day. Thousands of people across the county showed up at protests over the way the government has been throwing untold trillions at the economic crisis. Someday someone will have to pay for all this. And it seems like most of the money is going to companies and financial institutions that got us into this mess in the first place. Why do we want to go back to the way things were when the way things were got us to the way things are? And we have the government guaranteeing everything including your car's warranty. Not the way we want to go.

Some people are finding their local communities are the way to go. The Wall Street Journal reported that 90 cents of every dollar spent at a local business stays in the community while only 50 cents of each dollar spent at a chain store does. We have seen how big banks are only after profit and don't care about the local community (funny commercial for Sterling Bank running on FSN which shows a guy on his deck talking on the phone to his new bank who took over his accounts and he has to explain where Washington is.... no Washington state he says.... yes, you know near Oregon, Idaho, Pacific Ocean...). My sister and her husband own a small hardware store in upstate New York. They have watched their business decline after Home Depot and Super Walmart moved in. It's a common story. But they support their downtown. They coach the local kids. They sponsor the kid's teams. They run the local farmers market. What they make stays local. Because they are local. What if the government chose to throw its weight behind small and local instead of big and national (international -how much of the AIG money didn't even stay in this country?)?

In Kodiak we have some sense of how small and local works. That is mostly what we have here. People in the lower 48 have just discovered "staycations". Living on an island which is expensive to get off of, we knew what those were before we had a word for them. Our entertainment choices are not unlimited like some places in the lower 48. There is just not a lot to do here, like say Portland or Seattle. But we have found there is plenty to do. We tend to get together with people more often. Eat a dinner at home instead of a restaurant. Take a walk or a bike ride instead of driving to some event somewhere else. Read a book, go to a coffee shop, watch a local high school game. These are all activities that don't cost much yet have their own rewards. We think we are not missing much. And as more people in the country are talking cutting back, thinking small and local, we think we have a head start.

Last week someone in our small church commented on a big church national speaker they had heard on TV. He had spoken to thousands over Easter and baptized hundreds. It was an impressive service(s). We had a hundred or so in church and we baptize a few during the year. But, he said he was glad he could be a part of our church. He knows me, his pastor. He sees me at church, in the grocery store, at the coffee shop and at the local gym. He can stop by anytime and walk into my office. He can go to the quarterly business meeting and see how where every cent of his giving goes. He can find a place to serve in the church and he can help the church serve in the community. Small and local have their own rewards.

Maybe in this economic downturn/opportunity, more people will discover small and local. That would be a very good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment