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Those Who Think With Their Heads and Those Who Know With Their Hearts

Submission by Sarah Bishop, Executive Director Buffalo First:

Those Who Think With Their Heads

When Adam Smith conceptualized a market economy in his classic The Wealth of Nations, he had in mind a system that used human and material resources justly and sustainably to meet the self-defined needs of the people and their respective communities.

Smith’s construct is the foundation on which local living economies are based. Although it may seem an idealistic longing, over 140 cities have committed to the establishment of such economies. And, for the fourth consecutive year, Stacy Mitchell, from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has collected data from thousands of independent businesses (retailers, service providers, restaurants, etc.) to quantify the benefits of a buy local initiative.

Her findings are telling, but not surprising. Independent businesses in U.S. communities with active “buy local” initiatives reported a 5.6 percent increase in sales over the previous year — the strongest gains since the first year of the survey. This increase was more than double that (2.1 percent) reported by independent businesses located in areas lacking networks.  

Local-Love-Buffalo-NY.jpgMoreover, business owners commented on the wide range of positive impacts the campaigns had on their businesses. Nearly half reported that the campaigns brought new customers to their business, and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal. More than two-thirds of respondents said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased in the past year, and 51% said that local government officials were more aware of, attentive to and supportive of the needs of independent businesses and the entrepreneurs thereof.  

Those Who Know With Their Hearts

Valentine’s Day tends to evoke more emotion and less analysis, logic, rationality and use of the left brain.

Not to worry.

Back in 2006, Stephen Colbert coined a term for such times as these — that word, of course, is “truthiness.”

Truthiness: truth that comes from the gut, not books.

Listen, Buffalo, you don’t need me or anyone else to prove what you already know in regards to living local. Droning on about how thinking local first improves the health of the environment, strengthens our community and contributes to a functional democracy is true, but unnecessary.

You can feel it, even if you can’t define it. Reports, reference books and scholarly discourse do little for the war over your pocketbook. What will ultimately resonate and prove an effective weapon in this “war” is the emotional connect — the “truthiness.”

Our quality of life would be incredibly different if we based economic decisions on life values, rather than purely financial ones. Make your decisions based on the core belief that you are part of a human-scale movement charged with the mission to build a new, stronger economy using the principles of justice, sustainability and compassion.

Let February 14 serve as a healthy reminder to exhibit “truthiness” in loving local — together, we have the ability, power and responsibility to guide our community’s future forward.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

View All Articles by David Steele
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