Door County Buy Local Seeds Begin to Sprout

Editorial Comment:

By Roger Utnehmer President and CEO

The Door County Buy Local Initiative is provoking thought and positive discussion. More people are aware of the potential to fuel our local economy to higher performance. The educational campaign is having the additional positive impact of stimulating discussion about other local initiatives that can also benefit Door County. Giving local, volunteering local and hiring local are also important. Donating time and money to local charities, volunteering with local non-profit organizations and hiring local residents for public and private positions are all positive community-building actions.

Other opportunities to work together include vacationing locally, learning locally, growing locally and engaging in government and politics locally by running for office or joining a local political party. The opportunities for good people to do great things locally abound.

To focus on what we can do together is not xenophobic, isolationist or narrowly parochial. Buying locally, giving locally and volunteering locally require no government programs. Vacationing more locally, hiring locally and learning locally require no tax increases. Growing locally and getting involved in civic affairs and politics require no bureaucracy.

The Buy Local Initiative is planting seeds. Some have already grown into more sensitivity to giving and volunteering locally. Let’s work together and expand a sense of “being in it together” and Door County will become an even better place to live.

That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.

Email your response or opinion to the author.

A Short Lesson in the Economics of Spending Locally

My friend Nigel Ward who lives in Whitby, UK sends the following lesson in how local spending can strengthen a local economy…

Editor’s Note: Whitby is an old, historic, coastal town located in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England that is very similar in many ways to Door County’s own Sturgeon Bay. Shipbuilding, fishing and tourism have been the mainstays of both town’s economies however, Whitby can trace it’s history back quite a bit farther to include a Viking invasion. One of Whitby’s most notable tourists was the author Bram Stoker who set parts of his novel Dracula in and around Whitby.

It is a slow day in a damp little Irish town. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the town, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmers’ Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the pub.

The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him “services” on credit.

The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note.

The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism.

Thinking Locally as we Begin the Holiday Season…

Some cultures believe the year ends and begins on Halloween. With the coming of Thanksgiving, we begin to roll out a series of ever-expansive new year holiday celebrations – testing our endurance, our budgets and our psyches.

...a little common senseI hope I am not being overly dramatic in quoting Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s minds,” in reference to the holiday spirit. We face so many challenges at the moment on so many different levels of existence, that making the choice to place greater emphasis on “local” seems to be almost an instinctive reaction – one born out of self-preservation. And one that shares some of that same revolutionary spirit that founded this Nation a short time ago.

We are faced with the task of overthrowing a new form of colonialism, one in which large corporations extract the wealth from our local communities, frequently extinguishing independent, locally owned, small business interests. The initial out-of-pocket savings may be hard to resist until you do the math to see the long term costs to the community in which you live.

One also has to call into question the “loyalty” of corporations that are driven by the desire to increase their bottom line, sending American jobs offshore to China and Mexico. Now is the time for another revolution – one that places people above corporations. We have the numbers and we make the choices by voting with our dollars to invest in the health and well being of local, independent, privately owned businesses.

Whether it’s in Iowa or Wisconsin, the message is universal. Money spent in big box stores, chains and franchises does not recirculate throughout the community as much as money spent at locally-owned enterprises. The environmental savings are also quite significant.

“In almost every way buying your food locally has been proven to be a good thing,” says Transition Helston organizer Bernie Doeser, “less food miles, less packaging, healthy, fresh seasonal food. It supports small businesses and keeps money circulating in the local economy.”

Transition Towns are springing up all over Europe and especially within the United Kingdom as part of a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction.

Whether its in England or America, grassroots groups are exploring many of these truly revolutionary concepts: thinking, buying, growing and spending locally. We invite you to join in the process of learning and sharing ideas on what works for you and what else there is to do. It’s time to begin the transition…

This Holiday Season find unique gifts made right here in Door County, keeping more financial resources in the community by spending locally:

  • Support the local creatives: artists, craftspeople, musicians and poets all have original work for sale,
  • Performing Arts venues and organizations have tickets or season passes to stage plays, music festivals and concerts,
  • Consider the gift of learning: lessons in cooking, art, dance, voice, piano and guitar or classes at the Clearing, NWTC or YMCA,
  • Buy gift passes to local museums and other attractions,
  • How about the gift of a massage, hair styling or nails?
  • Seek out a local tailor,
  • Take a friend out for dinner at one of the many family-owned and operated restaurants in Door County,
  • Buy fresh vegetables, plants and flowers grown locally,
  • Give beers and wines made in Door County,
  • Search out fresh bakery goods made here daily,
  • Find meats, poultry and fish from the area,
  • Consider the local candy store for homemade treats,
  • Door County even has a made-in-Door pet treat store!