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From the Institute of Social Self-Reliance

Independent businesses saw strong sales growth in 2014 as more consumers embraced the “buy local” movement and ditched big companies in favor of supporting local retailers and small-scale producers, according to a large national survey released today.

independents-comparative-sales-increase-100bill

Which businesses, organizations and initiatives are supporting EDUCATION in our Monadnock Local Living Economy?

Facebook fans generated a short list of recommendations – we hope you will add your suggestions as well:

  • Impact Monadnock
  • The Orchard School: From Stephanie: “It’s on a younger level, but for my 12 and 14 year old kids, the Farmers and Foragers after school program at Orchard School in E. Alstead teaches them a lot about the importance of local living.”
  • The Hannah Grimes Center: From Missy: “I’ve found great value in the classes and business counseling at Hannah Grimes.”
  • From Matthias: “Community-based social marketing is an education building block of our Local Living Economy.”

Other programs highlighted in 2012:

Here are the businesses, organizations and initiatives that our Facebook Fans identified as helping to grow TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE BUSINESSES (that are financially profitable and environmentally and socially responsible) in the Monadnock Local Living Economy:

Have others businesses, organizations and initiatives to share?  Add them to the comments below — and stay tuned for next week’s Monadnock Local Living Economy Building Block discussion.

MBL FB Cover Guide Collage copyLeveraging Our Localness
Workshop/Discussion with Monadnock Buy Local
Tuesday, February 10, 2015, Noon – 1pm
At the Hannah Grimes Center, Suite C Conference Room – Keene, NH

Each one of us is busy looking for ways to promote our business — both online and off.  Why not do this together?  Join us for a discussion on how we can better leverage our localness, together.

THIS MONTH’S DISCUSSION: How do you plan to promote that you’re a locally owned business this year? (That’s different from what you’ve done in past years?)

Cost: $5; Free to Monadnock Buy Local Members.  Please RSVP.

We invite you to bring a bagged lunch with you.

Help spread the word: Please share this event on Facebook.

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

While Monadnock Buy Local loves to promote the benefits of purchasing from locally owned businesses, we think it’s equally important to encourage businesses to adopt practices that are environmentally and socially responsible. We recognize that a strong financial bottom line is critical. However, we feel that focusing on the bottom lines of people and place is just as crucial.

How can we encourage Monadnock Region businesses to adopt a triple bottom line approach to success? For inspiring answers to this question, I took a tour around the World Wide Web. Below is a quick summary of how other communities are encouraging their businesses to be more “local, green and fair.”

Based in Asheville, NC, Accelerating Appalachia connects organic food and farming, sustainable forestry and green building businesses with investors and mentors. Entrepreneurs receive coaching in all aspects of their business, and specifically around financing. The first 10 businesses that participated in this program created 35 jobs, put 106 more acres into farming and added 12 new farmers to the local food system. Participants include Appalachian Botanical Alliance (a cooperative of Appalachian grown herb farmers), Echoview Fiber Mill (a manufacturer of natural fibers) and Carolina Ground (which grows and mills organic wheat, rye and barley flours): http://www.acceleratingappalachia.org.

The Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA), made up of 850 business and commercial property owners in Vancouver, British Columbia, reduces waste and shares resources through a Green Zone Resource Park. An underused parking lot was transformed into an industrial composting facility, material exchange and recycling collection hub. It is also now home to urban garden plots: http://strathconabia.com.

Certifiably Green Denver helps businesses adopt more sustainable business practices in how they use energy, water, waste and transportation. The City and County of Denver offer low-interest loans to businesses to help them implement energy projects. Thanks to this program, over 600 businesses have implemented energy upgrades, resulting in a reduction of 21,100 tons of carbon emissions. The program also maintains a Certified Green Business Map, helping the general public identify “green” business or transportation options: http://www.denverenergy.org/business.

Switching the focus now from green practices to fair businesses practices, Inner City Advisors (ICA) based in Oakland, CA believes that “people with good jobs are the foundation of a thriving community.” By ICA’s definition, a good job pays above a living wage, offers full health and dental benefits and allows employees to move up within the company. ICA helps small businesses access capital, hire from the local community and retain local talent. One of ICA’s members, Revolution Foods, created and retained over 1,000 jobs while serving over one million freshly prepared meals every week to K-12 schools: http://www.innercityadvisors.org.

The Living Wage Western Mass Coalition believes a living wage is a human right — that employees should be paid a wage that allows them to afford decent housing, food, transportation, clothing, utilities and medical care. The coalition also certifies and promotes businesses that pay their workers a living wage: http://www.livingwagewesternmass.net. More locally, Healthy Monadnock 2020 recently started its own living wage work group. To get involved, contact Linda Rubin at lrubin@cheshire-med.com.

While Fair Trade items are made in far away places, buying them cultivates sustainable local economies throughout the world. Fair Trade certifications ensure that products were grown, harvested, crafted and traded in ways that “improve lives and protect the environment.” Fair Trade Brattleboro and the Fair Trade Club at Keene State College encourage businesses in our region to offer Fair Trade products on their shelves and menus: http://fairtradecampaigns.org.

Do you know of other programs or projects that encourage businesses to be more “local, green and fair?” Please share them with us by emailing monadockbuylocal@gmail.com.

Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News

Back in 2010, fifteen business owners and community members gathered at Elm City Restaurant to mark the one-year anniversary of Monadnock Buy Local.  Together we wrote our collective vision for the Monadnock Region’s local economy.  Specifically, we envisioned what our region would look like in 2015.  Well, it’s just about 2015 — the perfect time to revisit our ambitious vision.

Welcome to the Monadnock Region’s Local Economy in 2015:
Walk or bike downtown, whether in Antrim or Windsor, and experience a vibrant & diverse business district with a unique cultural flavor.  Note each town’s gathering point, attracting both visitors and residents.

Stop and ask people how they support their community.  You hear, “One way I support my community is to buy local first – it keeps money circulating in our local economy.”  No longer seen as a fringe movement or just a luxury for some, citizens understand the power of their choices as consumers and investors.

And their support for local runs deep — citizens bank locally, financing their home locally and support local arts and non-profits with their time and dollars.  Some individuals work together to form cooperatives in multiple business sectors and others are developing a local alternative currency called Monadbucks.

Each town has ample access to local food — you find local food in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and CSA (Community Support Agriculture) Farms.

Leaders and public officials understand the importance of their local economy and independent businesses.  They create policies that encourage independent businesses to grow and thrive.  Each town offers support and training for new and existing businesses — increasing the opportunity for people of all ages to start their own business.  Business owners, in turn, understand their role in creating a strong local economy and purchase many of their supplies and services from other local business owners.

Each town in the Monadnock Region understands it is part of something larger — a “glocal” movement — and we are excited to see where our new economy takes us.

So, where in this vision above have we reached fruition and where have we fallen short?

We are seeing more people thinking “local first” – both in our region and nationwide.  According to one study, 79% of Americans planned to shop at local businesses this holiday season.  Each January, the Institute for Local Self Reliance surveys locally owned businesses across the United States to assess sales growth over the previous year.  The results of this study will show if American’s plan to shop local this year translated into real action. Please stay tuned!

In terms of Monadbucks: While there’s interest, there isn’t yet any local currency in circulation in our region.  There is, however, the Monadnock Time Exchange, a cooperative network helping community members match unmet needs with untapped resources. For every hour you do something needed by another member of the time exchange, you “earn” a time credit that you can “spend” to receive a free service offered by another participant in the time exchange.

Access to local food seems to have grown with the addition of the Monadnock Food Co-op, as well as year-round CSAs and expanded farmers’ markets.  We hope that more research will be done to truly measure access to local food in our region and throughout New England.  Until then, we can look to the Strolling of the Heifers’ Locavore Index for insight.  It looks at four measures: the number of farmers’ markets, the number of CSAs, the number of food hubs — on a per-capita basis — along with the percentage active Farm-to-School programs.   According to the index, New Hampshire is ranked #3 – behind Vermont and Maine in terms of local food access.

We still have much work to do to encourage municipalities to adopt pro-local policies and help more businesses buy from other locally owned businesses.   This needs to be a focus over our next five years of work and beyond.

What’s on Monadnock Buy Local’s plate for 2015? We plan to elevate our capacity to accomplish more by hiring staff, increase our membership from 150 to 200 independent businesses and implement an evaluation tool that measures how businesses are supporting a local, green and fair economy — as well as other projects.

While we’re not there yet — in terms of seeing our entire vision for a Monadnock Local Living Economy come to life — we are making progress.  So, perhaps we don’t need to revise the vision above — but simply change the date from 2015 to 2020.

Thank you for supporting Monadnock Buy Local and our local economy these past five years by taking the Shift Your Shopping pledge, participating in Plaid Friday and supporting locally owned businesses.  Here’s to a wonderful 2015!

Plaid Friday Collage

Plaid Friday 2014

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