The Fourth of July is a day of fireworks and grilling out. It's a day of parties and picnics, music and festivities. For this is the day we come together as a country to celebrate our political independence. We celebrate all that is good about our country, and all that we love about being here.
But there's another aspect of our country that is in dire need of some of that celebratory attention - local, independent businesses, artisans, farmers, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs. These people have an important role in our country and our towns. They help each community maintain its own unique heritage and mercantile landscape. They imbue their community with life and soul.
Can cities have souls? I think so. But they need nourishment, just as much as our own souls do. On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our country. Let's not forget that the city we live in is our little piece of the country. We are charged with caring for the soul of our city; and in doing so, we enrich and nourish the country itself.
We can do this by eschewing those soul-sucking big box stores, the franchises and the chains. They are a blight on the landscape; an economic force that brings monotonous predictability, oil-sucking, gas-guzzling shipping of merchandise, and gives little back in return.
This is Independents Week. Celebrate by doing as much of your business as possible through local, independent sources. Try out that local grocery, visit your farmer's market, spend some time at your local bookstore. Eat at a local restaurant. Maybe you can't do all your shopping local. The 3/50 Project is one effort at getting people to focus some of their spending on independent businesses. Pick three local independent businesses, and spend $50 per month among them. That's a huge expenditure for some, and a pittance for others. Set a price range that makes sense to you. Just remember, local doesn't always mean more expensive. However, it does mean more money stays in your community. And it helps maintain your town's rich vitality.
"Imagine how quiet the forest would be if only the best birds sang. Imagine how boring the forest would be if all the birds sang the same song." (unknown author)