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Bicycling Means Business

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

Parking – it’s an issue that many downtown communities face. To many, the answer lies in increasing the number of parking spaces for cars. Some communities, however, are discovering a better answer: increase parking spaces for bicycles.

Not only do bicycles take up less parking space, more and more studies show that bicycling actually boosts revenues at bike-accessible businesses. This is great news for local governments tackling the issue of parking — great news for business owners looking to boost their profits — and great news for those of us who love to bike.

One study in Bern, Switzerland found that businesses made more profit per square meter of bike parking ($9,900 per year) than car parking ($8,800). How can this be? While bicyclists tend to buy smaller amounts than those who arrive by car, they shop more often and spend more each month compared to those who commute by car.

Individual business owners in our region are working to encourage bicycling at their workplace. “We at Filtrine have tried to make wellness a part of our culture.  We have had a wellness program for over 20 years,” shared Peter Hansel, President of Filtrine Manufacturing Company based in Keene.  “Biking to work contributes not only to the health of the individual but also to the community by reducing traffic, air pollution and fossil fuel consumption.  We have a bike rack at our facility and would like to see it more heavily used.”

What’s happening collectively in the Monadnock Region to make biking mean business?

Rack It Up! Program

The Monadnock Region Transportation Management Association (MRTMA), a coalition of businesses, organizations and individuals building a sustainable transportation future for the Monadnock Region, launched the Rack It Up! Program this summer. This cost share program partners with businesses and organizations to bring bicycle racks to locations throughout Keene to encourage more bicycling. There were six participants in the first round of the Rack It Up! Program: Monadnock Food Co-op, Savings Bank of Walpole, Southwestern Community Services, Keene Housing, Community Kitchen of Keene and United Church of Christ.

“In downtown Keene, where convenient on-street parking is sometimes scarce, my hope is that Keene’s downtown businesses will embrace the establishment of more bicycle parking,” said J.B. Mack, Principal Planner at Southwest Region Planning Commission.  “It offers customers the ultimate convenience to park right in front of stores, and it is a much cheaper and efficient alternative than using scarce real estate for vehicle parking.  Many bicycles around town are equipped with storage design solutions and can easily transport their store purchases.”

Learn more about MRTMA and the Rack It Up! Program: monadnocktma.org/.

Bicycle Benefits Program

A national program called Bicycle Benefits encourages more people to commute by bicycle by offering discounts and other incentives to bikers every time they visit a member business. Participants show their Bicycle Benefits sticker affixed to their helmet and instantly receive a reward for biking. Member businesses in Keene include Prime Roast (offering 25 cents off any coffee drink), Brewbaker’s Café (offering 10% off) and The Works (offering 10% off). The Monadnock Food Co-op is in the process of becoming a business member, too. Learn more at bb2.bicyclebenefits.org/.

In addition to the Rack It Up! and Bicycle Benefits Program, there are many more opportunities to make bicycling mean business in our region. Here are some examples:

Bicycle Friendly Business Program

The League of American Bicyclists created the Bicycle Friendly Business (BFB) program to recognize businesses that encourage their staff and customers to bicycle. The program provides technical assistance to participants and resources to help promote business accomplishments.

So far, 480 businesses have received the BFB designation but there’s only one BFB in New Hampshire: USDA Forest Service Lab in Durham. Let’s see if, together, we can encourage at least one Monadnock Region business to apply during the next BFB application period. The deadline is January 15, 2015: bikeleague.org/content/businesses/.

Protected Bike Lanes

Creating lanes just for bicycles also means business. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, retail sales on Ninth Avenue increased 49 percent since protected bike lanes were installed. Protected bike lanes use planters, curbs, parked cars to create a buffer between bicyclists and moving cars and instills a greater sense of safety for both bikers and drivers.

Policy

Finally, to have bicycling really mean business in our region we need our city and town governments to adopt best-practice cycling policies like Complete Streets, Road Diets and Open Streets. ChangeLab Solutions has an excellent resource called “Getting the Wheels Rolling” describing all these bicycle friendly policies. You can download a copy at http://ow.ly/BybsO.

Are you ready to make bicycling mean business in the Monadnock Region? Talk to your co-workers and the business owners you know about implementing the programs, projects and policies that encourage more of us to bicycle. Let’s get those bike wheels rolling!

M60_FEAT_BikeBiz_Infographic

The Future of New Hampshire’s Food System needs YOU

If you spend your professional or civic life focused on food or the food system, please attend a regional gathering to connect with others and shape our network and strategy. All are welcome.

Attend a regional gathering in your area to

•    have the opportunity to shape a state-wide Food Strategy to better our food system
•    learn about trends, data, challenges, and innovations in our food system
•    network with others doing work in the food system
•    and identify some actions for reaching our food system goals

In its fifth year, Monadnock Buy Local experienced a 15% growth in membership.  This movement now includes 151 business owners, representing 23 towns and well over 1,000 jobs throughout the Monadnock Region.

The new 2014-2015 Monadnock Buy Local Guide, listing all 151 local enterprises by business type, has been distributed.  Buy Local Guides can be found at each members’ place of business.

Locally owned businesses in communities with Buy Local efforts experienced a 7% increase in revenues last year.  That’s triple what independent businesses in communities not served by such efforts saw.  Efforts like ours are making a difference.

Studies find that when money is spent locally, up to three times more of that money recirculates through the local economy generating more jobs, charitable contributions and other community benefits.

Get more connected to our efforts, sign up for our monthly Fan E-Newsletter today!

Each year, Monadnock Buy Local’s Plaid Friday event attracts more and more community participation and media attention — both in our region and statewide.  We’re looking for help from Monadnock Buy Local members early this year to make this season’s celebration is the biggest ever.

 I participated in Plaid Friday for the past few years and it’s just wonderful. While half the nation was fighting for parking spaces and spraying each other with pepper spray at the mall I strolled along beautiful Main St. in Keene, and found great buys on some really beautiful and unique gifts at nearly every store.      ~Nancy W.

Plaid Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is a day when community members dress in plaid to make their support for locally owned businesses and community visible, reinforcing their own commitment while giving others a reminder to think local first.  Last year, close to 300 residents committed to wearing plaid.  Wearing plaid, a fabric with unique colors woven together into a larger pattern, represents us — the many diverse independent businesses and organizations that together form the tapestry of a strong local economy.

Your sponsorship of our 2014 Plaid Friday Event will raise awareness of the importance of supporting locally owned businesses in our region, inspire more of us to shift our holiday spending to independent businesses and show our region your dedication to the local economy movement.  Please consider sponsoring this year’s Plaid Friday event at one of the three levels below:

Tier 1: $150
– Your business name will appear on our press releases and Plaid Friday webpage (viewed 800 times last year)

Tier 2:  $250 (10 sponsorship slots available)
– Receive a quarter-page ad in our Plaid Friday insert in the Keene Sentinel (delivered to ~10,000 households)
– Your business name will appear on our press releases, Main Street Banner in Keene, and Event Poster
– Your logo will appear on our Plaid Friday webpage (viewed 800 times last year)

Tier 3: $500SOLD OUT!
– Your business will be mentioned in our Plaid Friday radio ads
– Your logo will appear on our Plaid Friday Main Street Banner in Keene, Event Poster and new Plaid Friday Shopping Bag
– Receive a quarter-page ad in our Plaid Friday insert in the Keene Sentinel  (delivered to ~10,000 households)
– Your logo and business name will appear on our press releases and Plaid Friday webpage (viewed 800 times last year)

Ad space is limited, so please pledge your sponsorship soon.  All sponsorship pledges are due before October 1st.  Please contact us if you have any questions and thank you for all you do to support our local economy everyday.

Plaid-Friday-2014

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

A few weeks ago, after making a purchase at an independent business in Keene, I noticed something different about the change I received. A one-dollar bill was marked “Build Our Community – Spend Me Locally!” Excellent advice, President Washington!

Imagine more and more of us seeing this message over and over again as we make our daily purchases.  A simple reminder that who you hand this bill off to next determines how long it recirculates in our community — building jobs, increasing charitable giving and bettering our quality of life.

I first learned about this money-stamping project at the American Independent Business Alliance’s (AMIBA) Conference this past May in Minneapolis, a national gathering of organizations like Monadnock Buy Local.  AMIBA shares on their website, “Almost every day, most of us exchange pieces of paper with other people to buy or sell products or services. So what better place to insert messages about the importance of doing business locally at a cost of nearly zero per impression?”

After the conference, our own Board of Directors discussed starting this project in the Monadnock Region — but the project is already here! Now it’s our job to amplify this project’s reach.  We’re planning events during this year’s Shift Your Shopping season and Plaid Friday event to build awareness and increase the number of stamped bills circulating through our region.  Have an idea? Share it with monadnockbuylocal@gmail.com.

Now you may be thinking, is this legal? Money stamping is legal.  What is illegal is to intentionally destroy a bill, but that’s definitely not the intention of this project.  We want our stamped bills to stay in circulation, so we’ll keep the stamp from covering the serial numbers and seals on the front of these bills.

You don’t have to wait for Monadnock Buy Local to start stamping your bills — you can order your stamp directly from AMIBA.  MBL Members can request a free stamp from AMIBA.

This money-stamping project can also be a tool to remind more of us to choose cash over credit cards when making purchases at locally owned businesses.  When you use your credit card, local merchants pay fees to banks usually in far away places.   Using cash means independent businesses make more from each transaction, at no extra cost to you.

“For independent businesses, credit card fees can rival or even exceed their profits,” said Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “Kathy Miller, fifth-generation owner of a general store in Elmore, Vermont, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that, on a $10 gasoline sale, she makes 49 cents in profit and pays 47 cents in credit card fees.”

Stamped or not, how long does a bill recirculate in our local economy?  That’s a question Monadnock Buy Local is working on answering right now through our Indie Impact Study with Civic Economics, an organization that conducts studies measuring the “local multiplier effect” in communities.  These studies found that independents return between 44 to 71 cents of every dollar in revenues back to their local economy.  Our study will provide baseline data on how money recirculates through our local economy when spent at independent businesses compared to national chains.  Also, this data will help guide future policy work in our region and measure the success of our efforts.  Learn more about Indie Impact Studies.

“Other studies across the country, from Austin to San Francisco to Chicago have been very helpful to all of us in our efforts to further the local movement,” said Betsy Burton, co-chair of Local First Utah. “But having the actual figures from our home city is compelling to the public and to local government officials in a whole different way.”

So look down when you receive your change.  Look to see if a reminder to buy local is there.  Even if you’re handed bills without a stamp, just by looking you’ll be thinking local first and reminding yourself to spend more of your dollars at independent businesses.

This Saturday, August 23 at 11am at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough Rosaly Bass will sign and discuss her book ORGANIC! A GARDENER’S HANDBOOK filled with practical advice gathered from over 40 years of raising vegetables and flowers at Rosaly’s Garden in Peterborough. Rosaly’s Garden sprouted from a few seeds planted in 1973. It’s grown to be New Hampshire’s oldest and largest organic farm. In Organic! Rosaly Bass shares practical advice for gardeners and farmers who want to grow organic. Learn best practices, from planting and watering to pest control. Learn how to grow vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers exactly the way Rosaly grows them. Plus, harvesting and storage tips and even a few recipes.

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

Eat-Local-NH-logoRGB_20101-300x198August is New Hampshire Eat Local Month — a time to celebrate our local food and farms, and recognize how a stronger local food system builds healthier citizens, communities and local economies. What’s new in the “Eat Local” movement in the Monadnock Region?  Feast on these developments:

Farmers’ Market of Keene adds a New Market Day
There are now three opportunities each week to shop at the Farmers’ Market of Keene.  A new Thursday Market time was recently added, from 5 – 7 p.m. at the Colony Mill Marketplace parking lot along Island Street.  The Tuesday & Saturday Market days are still at their usual time and place, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Gilbo Avenue.  In addition to August being NH Eat Local Month, the first week of August is also National Farmers Market Week. To celebrate both events, why not visit a farmers’ market each day of the week from August 3 – 9? Check out Monadnock Table Magazine’s farmers’ markets list to help you meet this challenge.

Cornucopia Project Plans a Community Garden
The Cornucopia Project plans to grow more local food for the community — with the community — by creating a community garden at the Peterborough Community Center.  The garden will feature a spiraling path inviting visitors to stroll past the edible berry plants, herb garden, flowerbeds, greenhouse and mini-amphitheater.  All the produce raised by Cornucopia staff and volunteers will go right to the Peterborough Food Pantry and Senior Lunch Program, also housed at the Peterborough Community Center — making the distance between garden to plate incredibly short.  Once complete, the Peterborough Recreation Department will offer gardening classes. A fundraising campaign is also underway to renovate the center’s existing kitchen into a full commercial kitchen — which means cooking classes are also in order. Learn more about the Cornucopia Project.

Gleaning Coordinators Help Bring More Local Food to All
Last year, the New Hampshire Farm to School Program launched NH Gleans to support six gleaning coordinators throughout our state.  Gleaning means harvesting the surplus produce from farms and gardens and directing it to local pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.  We’re incredibly fortunate to have two gleaning programs in the Monadnock Region, one hosted by the Community Kitchen of Keene and another with the Hillsborough County Conservation District. Last year, the Community Kitchen gleaned over 16,000 pounds of produce last year.   Learn more about gleaning on August 20, 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm at the Monadnock Food Co-op.  Sarah Harpster from the Community Kitchen of Keene’s Gleaning Program will share information about gleaning and how it fights hunger, supports local farmers and reduces waste.  She’ll also share how you can get more involved in this effort.  Discover more about NH Gleans.

Monadnock Food Co-op Brings More Local Food Choices to Shoppers
Now over a year old, the Monadnock Food Co-op offers the region’s largest selection of local and sustainably grown products together under one roof — making it easier for you to make a choice that supports our local food system. Currently, the Co-op carries products from 177 farmers and local food producers who grow and make their products within 100 miles of the Co-op.  This August, the Co-op will serve up a full plate of events, focusing on local food and farms, to celebrate NH Eat Local Month.  Learn more about the Monadnock Food Co-op.

Monadnock Region Permaculture Group Launched
The Monadnock Region Permaculture Group, sponsored by The Sustainability Project, offers events and an online forum for permaculture enthusiasts to connect and learn together. Permaculture uses ecological principles to design and regenerate healthy, productive landscapes and communities. The group’s offerings include films and educational speakers, permaculture farm & garden tours, discussion and book study groups, hands on experiences, community garden building, energy conscious living, seed and plant swaps and social events.  Learn more at this Meet Up Group.

Finding a Local Farm to Visit Gets Easier
The Cheshire County Conservation District compiled a list of farms in Cheshire County and identified which farms are open to visitors.  See their map and guide to local farms.

Now to celebrate NH Eat Local Month — pull out your calendar and go to Yarden of Eatin.  This online calendar highlights many Monadnock Region events for August including a farm tour, farm dinners, local food BBQs, canning workshops and more. Looking for local food and farm events throughout New Hampshire?  Check out the calendar at NH Farms Network and NH Eat Local Month.

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