Do you have a longing to be more village minded? More community-based? Do you long for a simpler, more sensible age, (way) before you born? A time when results were a direct effect of your efforts? That's sure not what we've got now. Does the idea of being "local" speak to your heart? It's a big idea, that draws on a very heart-centered process!! In its simplest form - it starts and end with YOU! But in order to really make the changes necessary, you need to love yourself completely. Or, maybe I should say - In order to completely love yourself, you need to make some changes. Some find one easier than the other.
The small course correction, the tiniest step in a more 'local' direction - has exponential effects. We get caught up in thinking we have to change the world. If you can make a few small efforts for yourself (out of love), then a few small efforts for those beside you (out of love), it changes the resonance of things. Somewhere else, someone else is doing the same - and where the ripples from resonance lap one another - there's a consciousness shift, and the rest takes care of itself.
All you need do is start at HOME -being resourceful!!
Explore ideas and tools for local resourcing. How far do we have to go, to get what we need? Does "local" really make sense?
ONLINE TOOLS FOR GETTING LOCAL
We all have neighbors. Some live less than 50' away from us for years, without even knowing their names! How crazy is that?! How life has changed, from a time when neighbors were a life-line. And, not that long ago, when people shared one telephone line. How crazy does it sound - to go knock on a neighbor's door - asking to borrow a cup of sugar or a couple of eggs?! That use to be normal and welcomed. What happened? Has everything changed so drastically, or have we just lost touch with the important things? Have you ever baked a pie for one of your neighbors? Welcomed them to the neighborhood with some fresh-baked cookies, or one of your heirloom tomato seedlings? Made chicken soup for a neighbor that's sick? Do you even know if your neighbors get sick? Would you know if one was lying on their floor, dying, unable to get to a phone?! Why has all this disconnection become normal? It's absurd!
If we don't change things up now - our children suffer. What's the world going to be like when they're older? Are we just going to sit back and hope for the best? How much time do your children spend indoors - glued to the TV, or some other digital device? If we aren't instilling some more out-going values in them - what the hell?!?! Will they feel capable of approaching a stranger for help? Think that's a weird question? Then think again about how comfortable you are knocking on your neighbor's door. Will our kids think of growing their own food? Will that even be legal? Will they be terrified to step outside - for fear of sunlight, rampant crime, or germs?? Will any options be available to them by then - if we don't make the effort now, to reverse all the crazy programming that's infiltrating our lives?
Smile and greet your neighbors! Take the time to talk to them - get to know them! Exchange email addresses and phone numbers. Bake up extra batches of muffins, cookies, or fresh-baked bread. Take your kids with you when you drop them off! Introduce your children. Send them over with extra veggies from your garden. Small gestures that generate tons of healthy energy! Sure - maybe your neighbors will think you're crazy (at first), but it will win them over...and they need desperately need to be won over by something other than fear and paranoia.
Where you live will dictate how you go about connecting with your neighbors. If making friends with your neighbors is too far outside your comfort zone, or where you live isn't conducive to approaching them on the street, or in their yards - get online and look for small community groups. Facebook and MeetUp are great places to start. If you don't find anything - START YOUR OWN GROUP!! You can just start a general neighborhood group, or go more specific - playdates for toddlers, or Kids Clothing Exchange, RideShare, Holistic Homeschool, Home Bakers Swap, Preppers Group, etc, etc. Worst that can happen is there's no interest. Put up some flyers around your neighborhood - giving the URL, and what it's about. I'm pretty positive there'll be a few people who grasp what you're doing, and want to be involved.
Other ideas for communing with your neighbors:
Community garden in an abandoned/empty lot (JUST DO IT)
Community Day Care or Holistic School - Each parent takes a turn (in their home) watching kids on their day off. Rotates. Safer, closer to home, convenient, no commuting, healthier food, more say & involvement!
Rent a Community Space - Depending on the size, can be used for the holistic schooling &/or daycare, and also function for group meetings, workshops, yoga, exercise, movement or dance classes (for adults & kids), to hold bake sales, or puppet theater, or anything you & your neighbors can dream up - perhaps as a consignment shop, or art gallery. Fun, fun, fun!! Split the cost of the rent & utilities (first and last) then hold events to raise money. Talk to city first - they might have something they'll give you a good deal on, or maybe some in the group has a property they're not using at the moment.
Organize a Street Party - Everyone can go house to house, or apartment to apartment, or set up tables on the street. Holidays like Christmas and Halloween are great times of year to hold these. Get to know your neighbors, and get the all the kids playing together.
Organize a neighborhood Scavenger Hunt for kids...within the limits of the street, and yards. Of course have prizes for everyone, or a party for them at the end. Can be as simple as ribbons, cupcakes, popcorn & beverages. Contrary to popular belief - kids just appreciate having fun. No one needs to win an Xbox or ipad!! Just have little "participation" prizes for everyone.
Have a dog washing party - good for kids! In the summer of course. Can also do car washing parties. Same idea as above - have snacks and refreshments, maybe some music for them!
Neighborly Gestures (Just You)
Write up something nice and tape to their door w/a flower (anonymously)
leave cookies or prepackaged treat with note to the mail carrier (in the mailbox)
mow your neighbor's yard as a surprise
return your neighbors trash bin
ask neighbor if they need anything, while you're out running errands (especially elderly!)
bake up something extra for your neighbor
give them extra stuff from your garden.
Playdates at the park
communal yard sale
I'll mow your yard one week, you mow mine the next (2 yards in one go, then a week off)
Neighborhood House Painting (same idea - everyone paints one house at a time, then everyone moves to the next house)
Comment below to leave your ideas!!!
Gardening - If you have space, it doesn't get anymore local, than your own yard! Start planning a simple, raised-bed, vegetable garden now. Check out THIS LINK for Farmers Almanac Garden Planner - you can sign up for a free trial for 30 days. That will give you more than enough time to plan the perfect garden. Design it around the square footage you have available. They have drag 'n' drops plants to show how much you can fit into the space, which are also color coded by growing season, days to harvest, etc. It's a great tool, whether you're planning a small or large garden!
If you're space is limited - no problem! Check out Youtube for great ideas on "vertical gardens".
Local Farms & Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets are a great way to get to know your local farmers, develop a relationship, and get answers to your questions immediately. Not all Farmers Markets run year round, so if you find one with good selection - ask if you can visit and purchase directly from the farm, and if they have a website, or other drop-off locations.
Try searching Google Maps for "organic farm", not all will be family owned and operated, sell to the public varieties, so check their websites (or Facebook) if they have them, or call. I know a lot of people have gotten use to grocery shopping on a daily basis. You want to aim for once every two weeks, preferably. A 30 minute drive to a farm, twice a month - is less "going out-of-the-way" then a daily drive to and from the grocery!
Look for a farm that carries a wide selection, so you can get fruits and veggies (in season), dairy, eggs, meat, and grain if they have it. The farm I go to only has stone-ground cornmeal, but they carry diatomaceous earth, homemade soap, and fermented veggies. You also want to make sure that all the livestock is free-pastured, and not given GMO soy or corn feed as a supplement. If you're purchasing dairy products - you want them to have any type of cow EXCEPT HOLSTEINS. (can read an article here on the dangers)
Don't hesitate to ask your farmer questions! After all, they're the experts - and they like people who are educating themselves on what they're passionate about. If they care intensely about their business, they'll be more than happy to share test results, and let you tour the farm. They put a whole lot work into everything be safe and healthy and productive. If they're reluctant to share test results, or stats, or go behind the scenes - take that as a warning. Although, if you're buying from a homesteader (someone who has a tiny farm for family use, but is willing to sell some extra), they might not bother testing their milk or animals. If the family looks healthy, that's a good enough sign (most of the time).
If you can't find a farm listed online anywhere, and there's no Farmers Market - Post an ad on Craigslist, telling what you're looking for. If you're seeking raw milk (goat or cows) you might want to say it's for "pet use", bcuz in some states it's illegal to sell. As I mentioned above, there are tons of people who live on large parcels of land, and have livestock and crops for their own use, but always have excess that they'd be glad to sell. They might even have a teenager, that's interested in doing home delivery once a week, for a little pocket-money? Make it worth their while of course. If you do find a family willing to sell to you - go out of your way to honor them with something on-top of payment. Country folk appreciate small acts of kindness. Doesn't have to be all the time, but if you've been with them long-term - - a crocheted afghan, or a homemade, drunken fruitcake for Christmas - would speak VOLUMES!! xoxo Again, it's about DEVELOPING relationships with people we really appreciate in our community!! You're saying - I'm more than a customer!
I'd like to be the type that hunts, but - I'm not sure I see that happening. I for sure want to get my own backyard chickens, and perhaps that will lead to culling, which might get me over that hump of severe compassion? For sure I don't like the idea of "killing", but I totally support the idea of healthy, free-range, wild meat sources. I'm old-old school, and think that's as close as it gets to natural/traditional.
If you hunt - you've already got a freezer full of meat. If you know any hunters - be grateful (and make them an afghan too)! 😉 If neither is the case (like me) - again, try Craigslist. It's illegal for hunters to SELL what they kill. Don't ask me - sounds stupid! So, post your want ad under BARTER/TRADE. Money can be discussed later. Or you can try some hunting forums. Can also be a great way to get fresh fish! Try local fishing forums...or contact anyone that does fishing charters nearby, and ask them how you'd go about buying some catch!
It's all about being resourceful - creative - communicative - and setting the intention to really get local!
Independent Health Food Stores - Yes, WholeFoods carries some 'local' items, but in general it's still pretty big-box. You'll know a local health food store, bcuz the owner is working the cash register, and stocking shelves! This can be a good alternative to going to the farm. If you ask the owner - they're usually more than willing to stock whatever it is you need. Not all health food stores carry produce, but I think most will work with you to find a supplier for raw milk, or pasture-raised meats and eggs....and since they're buying in larger quantity - it shouldn't cost you that much more than going directly to the farm.
Natural Food Co-ops - If you live outside a large city, these can be hard to find. Basically, a co-op is a bunch of like-minded people, getting together and buying stuff wholesale, in bulk. Most established co-ops require an annual membership, volunteering a handful of hours a month (stocking shelves, cashier, inventory), and somewhere around 10% added at checkout. Co-ops are a great solution for health-conscious consumers, who want to keep it local. Although some of the items can't be sourced locally (coconut oil, fresh pineapples, coffee, chocolate, etc), you have a say in what the co-op carries, and from whence it comes.
If there's no co-op's available in your area - get together with about 8-10 friends, family, or neighbors - and start your own!! SHOP COOPERATIVELY! You can save a lot of money if you're all brainstorming and keeping your eyes peeled for great deals. Find online companies that sell wholesale, for foods that can't be locally sourced (coffee, coconut oil, etc) Tropical Traditions has a "buyers club" with lots of great deals - you can make bulk orders on soaps, lotions, toothpaste, deodorant, and other goodies (coconut-based and top quality). They also have amazing half price deals on their 5 gallon pails of organic, virgin coconut oil!!!
For meat, dairy, grains and produce - find a local farm to meet all your needs. Get the group together to come up with a minimum order of staples every week, and come up with a schedule that fits everyone's needs. If you have 8 people - with 1 person going to the farm a week. You'll (personally) only be needing to make a farm run, once a month. Talk to the farmer in advance and find out what kind of discounts are available for buying say $500 a week. They'll DEFINITELY work with you to keep that business. And who knows - you're co-op may grow!!! I know you can save money by buying a an entire pig, or half, or whole cow - and they'll do the butchering for you. You can say how much you need ground, etc. Plus get all the bones and organ meat, which is top-drawer for "Traditional" dieting!!! Or pet food.
A ton of options open up for you, and they're ALL healthy!!! That's what we're looking to achieve! Taking back responsibility, using your purchasing power to support the things you want to support, and boosting community. From a few small steps, and some neighborly interaction - you've made a MASSIVE difference all-round!!!!
MORE ON CO-OPs - The nice thing about a co-op is - it exists to meet the needs of its members. As you get to know your members - you'll find each has a set of skills unique to them and useful (if not necessary) to the group. It's tribal magic!!! Perhaps someone makes their own bread, and is willing to try their hand at gluten-free baked goods too. Another might make soap, someone else sews cute kids clothes, and yet another teaches yoga. There's opportunity for barter and trade, making some side money, or doing workshops - all within your group. It's turning everything around and heading in a more holistic direction. Everyone's feeling of value, and appreciated, and it's all very great and groovy!!
You can co-op a daycare, or homeschooling (otherwise known as holistic schools) - everyone takes a turn watching or teaching the kids, 1 day a week. If one parent has no free time, but pays for daycare, or has always wanted to homeschool but can't - they can be accommodated, and direct their money towards a better situation for their kids - closer to home, with people they know and trust, organic food, and all the rest - being a co-op everyone still has a say-so. There are co-ops for work, and clothing, and activities, and holidays. Of course you want to form a group of like-minded folks if you'll be spending that much time together, but that's not hard.
So, we've got food covered. In essence, you should be able to get all the food you need from your yard, a local farm, an occasional trip to the health food store, and some online speciality shops. Depending on how self-sufficient you're striving to be - making your own homemade cleaners, laundry soap - baking your own bread, etc. You should be able to avoid the grocery store altogether, except for a handful of items. This is what I still buy at the grocery - bananas, citrus, raw apple cider vinegar, raw local honey (best price), coffee, chocolate, stone-ground unbleached organic white flour (non-enriched) for sourdough stuff, laundry soap/cleaner ingredients (fels naphtha bars, big bags of baking soda, borax, washing soda), seltzer and the occasional bottle of ginger ale. Everything aside from that food & supplement wise - I order online.
That brings us to all the rest of the "stuff" we need. To complete the "Local Lifestyle", we've got Goodwill, Salvation Army, local consignment and second-hand shops, Indie businesses, and online sources like Craigslist, Ebay, Amazon Local, and Etsy Local. All that should cover everything from underwear to real estate.
I have to stop and take into consideration, for some people - money is no object, or of little concern. If that's you - you can shop locally without a lot of thought. I'm at the other end of the spectrum, and even if I wasn't - I'd still shop at Goodwill and yard sales! I guess I've been doing it so long - I can't fathom spending more money than necessary. Unless it was a really sweet laptop, or a top of the line digital camera...neither of which I own, but would love to have. Some things don't work "locally", but for my all my digital stuff, I buy refurbished, online. I've never been disappointed.
People either love shopping second-hand, or they refuse it completely. All I can say is give it a shot. It's addictive in a good way. It's getting something of quality - that you know will last you a long time, and paying a fraction of the price. If you're all about labels, which I don't understand, but - if you are - Goodwill runneth over with all the top brand names. My girlfriend bought a pair of worn-once, leather boots last week, and paid $15. She looked them up online and they're $275 Italian something or others. I can have 3 or 4, 100% cashmere sweaters in my cart in 5 minutes. $5 each. I wash them in hot water, and put them through the dryer, and the perfect size for James - felted!
Goodwill & Sally Ann For small kitchen applicanaces, and gadgets, radios, alarm clocks, lamps, picture frames, nick knacks, comforters, clothes, shoes, bags, backpacks, bikes, luggage, DVDs, books (galore), toys and stuffed animals, furniture, and countless other things.
Craigslist & Ebay for large kitchen appliances, furniture, exercise equipment, vehicles, etc. I prefer Craigslist, as it includes services, and a FREE and barter section. Also community board, and discussion forums. For sure keep an eye on free stuff, and use it to give away free stuff too! There's also an agriculture section - if you're thinking of getting some backyard chickens.
Note: There has been some controversy lately on Goodwill, paying their handicap employees WAY below the minimum wage, while their CEOs and top management, rake in anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000/year. I don't have a Sally Ann near by or I'd go there instead. I get to Goodwill about once a month, if that. If you can some local, independent second-hand or vintage shops - that would be a better place to spend you money, but usually they just don't have the selection.
Amazon Local I've never used, although I get their daily emails. It's like Groupon, and most of the stuff I see is of no immediate interest. Mostly things like salon, spa, and restaurant deals. If part of your Local Quest includes getting out in the neighborhood more, and pampering your sweet self - it might be just what you're looking for.
Etsy Local gets a high rank from me. As a shop owner, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Etsy, but all in all I think it's the BOMB when it comes to supporting artists and crafters!! Now that they've got a "local" option - it's even better. You can spend hours just surfing through amazing shops full of the greatest, most inspiring stuff. The PERFECT place to buy gifts!!! And - if the person your buying for lives far away - you can search by their city/zip and get them something that's local to their area. 😛
Just about anything/everything is available - baked goods, food items, soaps, bath & body, artwork, needleworks, handmade clothing, upcycled stuff, furnishing, pottery, toys, books, natural makeup, vintage items, and even supplies - so if you're looking for some Shea Butter, essential oils, containers, and lipstick tubes to make up some nifto stuff, or you want to pick up a new hobby, and need some supplies - make sure to check Etsy out!! Most shops allow for custom orders as well - which means you can have special package deals put together, just for you.
Think that about covers it for now.
I re-wrote this about a dozen times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obviously something I'm passionate about, and just couldn't control the rambling! There's so much rolled up in going local. Little changes can have such incredible impact (in the energy of your community). I know I didn't cover everything, and it's all so unique to your situation. I'd love to hear what your ideas are, and how you're making it work!
If you want to discuss anything in relation to being more local - leave a comment below. Would LOVE your feedback!