A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

The Language of Local Economy

by Doreen Johnson

Socially conscious
Triple bottom line
Many of us who read Country Wisdom News have a pretty good understanding of this vernacular.  It’s all part of a language, heard and spoken by those on the path to a new economy. It’s the Localism movement, and it’s vibrant not just in the Hudson Valley, but around the world, which means the language is universal. Or is it? What does it all mean?
Since March 2013 I’ve had the dream job of Outreach, Community Engagement, Events and Communications Director for Re>Think Local. For me, Localism is about re-thinking how our local economy works, collaborating in new and inventive ways to create healthy and sustainable communities, backed by local economies that are strong and resilient. Part of my job at Re>Think Local is to bring folks together, to connect people in the community for the purpose of collaborating, co-creating, and supporting one another in this mission.
Re>Think Local is a nonprofit collaborative of locally owned independent businesses, artists, farmers, and nonprofits working to co-create a better Hudson Valley. Our goal is to strengthen locally owned independent businesses to help them improve their triple bottom line – and consider their social and environmental impact as well as financial profit.

Triple Bottom What? Triple Bottom Line – the people (you, your customers), who care about how business practices affect the environment (planet), and who want to make a living (prosper) doing what they love. It sounds so simple, right?

Re>Think Local was founded for the purpose of raising awareness and educating people about what it means to build resilient communities. Since I began working with Re>Think Local – a chapter of the national BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies) and other organizations with similar visions, things started to crystallize.
Every day we bank, buy clothing and food, we invest, we do business, we care for our homes. For those of us lucky enough to have options, there’s a lot of decision-making, and when we don’t have options, it’s another kind of problem.
Re>Thinking all of these things and understanding the impact our choices have on the planet and our communities is a small part of what Re>Think Local is all about.
We strive to build a positive alternative to the outdated Wall Street-driven economic system that is failing our communities, not only as business owners, but as individual consumers.  Not so simple, but not impossible. It’s about much more than just shopping local. It’s a shift – not just in where we’re spending our hard-earned dollars when we shop, but perhaps, more importantly, a shift in consciousness and mindset.
Earlier this year, Re>Think Local along with partners The American Booksellers Association and Civic Economics conducted a study of Hudson Valley brick and mortar retail stores and restaurants – the Indie Impact Study. The results detail the amount of revenue returned to the local economy by independent, locally-owned businesses. The study found that shifting just 10% of spending to local businesses would keep an additional $475 million in the regional economy each year. It’s very, very, clear–our dollars help our communities much, much more when spent at local independents. Why wouldn’t we do this?
I realize that as thoughtful, hard-working, community-minded business owners and consumers, we have an incredible amount to think about, and it can be overwhelming.  Everything we do has an impact. For me, Localism means having that awareness, and the knowledge to make conscious decisions as entrepreneurs and consumers. It’s doing what we can, because we care. It’s shifting our consciousness, because we know. These little actions can impact our community, and maybe even the world, in a big way.
Later this year we’ll be launching a new campaign that will grow a more vibrant and sustainable local economy. Join us! Re>Think Local is a vibrant collaboration of hands-on volunteers, passionate organizers, and ambassadors for Localism.

Come check out one of our Re>Mixes or Potlucks, or one of the larger conferences we co-create each year around the building blocks of a Local Living Economy (Wellness, Manufacturing, Green Building, Social Entrepreneurship…among others.) I urge you to come out, get to know our amazing members, and then become one yourself! Your next collaboration could be right around the corner.
So. What does Localism mean to you, in your language?