Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News
We just wrapped up our FIFTH YEAR of recruitment efforts for Monadnock Buy Local! Let’s take a moment to celebrate this milestone and introduce you to our membership.
First, an acknowledgement of how far we’ve come! Founded in June 2009, Monadnock Buy Local started as a pilot project of the Keene Downtown Group — called Keene Buy Local. After our first wave of recruitment in late June, membership of local and independent businesses in downtown Keene reached 45 businesses.
In November 2009, Keene Buy Local quickly evolved into Monadnock Buy Local (MBL), adopting a broader regional scope for the following reasons/goals:
- Engage people who may not live in Keene but work and play in Keene (the City of Keene’s population triples every day).
- Measure the impacts of our movement using Southwest Regional Planning Commission’s data (This organization uses the same footprint MBL uses).
- Complement and strengthen the existing local first movements in New Hampshire (These movements are also regional based; i.e.: Seacoast Local).
- Encourage shoppers to buy local wherever they are (Keene does not have every type of shop to serve our residents’ needs, so we need to encourage people to shop at nearby towns instead of shopping online).
- Embrace the pride we have for Mount Monadnock and the recognition it has as an outdoor tourist destination in New England (geographical center of our region, distinguishes us from other population centers).
We published our first Monadnock Buy Local Guide in August 2010 with 54 members from 11 towns. Then we thought… now what? That question inspired us to host a retreat for 15 community leaders, presenting our one-year anniversary highlights and inspiration for our 2011 Strategic Plan. We collectively created a 2015 Vision for the Monadnock Region Local Economy:
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 Farms.
Leaders and public officials understand the importance of the local economy and independent businesses – how it contributes to the health of our communities. They create policies that encourage independent businesses to grow and thrive. Each town has 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 our region understands it is part of something larger – a “glocal” movement – and we’re excited to see where our new economy takes us.
Whoosh – guess we have a lot of work to this year to make this vision a reality! Who is going to help us move forward? You and our 146 business members!
Speaking of our members, let’s move into introductions. Our 146 Monadnock Buy Local members come from 23 different towns. While our ultimate goal is to have members in all 35 towns within the Monadnock Region, we’re proud of our reach so far — from Orchard Hill Breadworks in Alstead to Prospect Communications in West Chesterfield, over to the Amazing Flower Farm in New Ipswich and Holland Homestead Farm in Hinsdale. While the majority of our members are located in Keene, we have 13 members from Peterborough (thanks to Willard Williams from Toadstool Bookshops) and 8 members from Jaffrey (Thanks to John Sepe from Jaffrey is Cool!).
Our businesses represent a diversity of industries – from Alternative Healthcare Providers like Five Element Acupuncture in Keene and Yoga with Josephine in Surry, to Wineries like Poocham Hill Winery in Westmoreland and Walpole Mountain View Winery in Walpole. We’re proud to announce that we have 16 Farms amongst our membership and 4 Monadnock Green Business of the Year Award winners.
We expect to release our 2014-2015 Monadnock Buy Local Guide by late July – until then we invite you to explore who our members are at http://monadnockbuylocal.wildapricot.org/Members. Thank you for supporting locally owned businesses throughout the Monadnock Region – and we look forward to many more years of contributing to a stronger local economy and more vibrant region.