I recently had a conversation with a friend about the concept of community. Is a community of people who move to a certain place because they like it, any less strong than one made up of folks who’ve lived there for generations? Perhaps, but I hope not. I moved to South Park a few months ago and am excited about the sense of community here, the number of unique small businesses, and the progressive and friendly atmosphere. When I was still apartment hunting I dropped into Rebecca’s while I was waiting for an appointment to see a place. I bought my coffee and sat at a small table. It was a Wednesday night and three guys were on stage- a string bass and two guitars. I sat there, foot bouncing, typing on my computer and thinking “these guys are really good!”. At a couch across from my table two other guys were discussing Israeli politics. Here was a neighborhood with an independent coffee shop with good music and patrons who discussed worldly topics. This was where I wanted to live.

So now that I’ve parked my suitcases and cardboard boxes here, what’s the best way to show my support for my chosen community? Show up. Get to know people. Get involved. Go shopping. Wait, shopping? For better or worse, we currently live in a capitalistic society and while I dutifully show up to cast my vote whenever I get the chance, I think my (modest) discretionary income packs a stronger punch. I don’t know as much as I’d like about economics, but I do have considerable experience as a consumer. For instance, I have purchased many inspirational and educational books on economics*. Unfortunately they tend to sit, only partially read, on my bookshelf, casting judgment on my tendency to philosophize rather than act.

So, guilted/inspired by my books, and grateful for my neighborhood, I’d like to try an experiment. I’d like to harness my talent as a consumer and direct it towards my new neighborhood. I’m already a fan of Rebecca’s, The Grove, Hamilton’s, Grant’s, that taco shop on the corner of Ivy and Fern (Sombrero’s), and I try to buy my gas at the local 7-11 (does this even help the local economy since it’s a chain?), but I’m going to try to buy everything, for the next month (at least), from very local sources. Stay tuned.

Ideally I’ll find most of my needs/wants met by the businesses in South Park, but am willing to extend those boundaries a bit- maybe into North Park? Should I go by zip code? I’m a Trader Joe’s addict but will have to set them aside for a bit. I went to Gala Foods today as my first step on this journey. I can meet my basic needs, but finding bulk bulgur wheat might be a challenge. And does the produce at my local grocery store originate from further away than the produce at the farmer’s market in Hillcrest? My proposed solution (and I welcome any input here) is to join a local CSA for the bulk of my produce, augment with the local farmer’s market, and get the rest from my neighborhood grocers. The array of chilies and spices used in Mexican cooking was astounding at Gala (at least, astounding to my northern roots) and, isn’t that really the point? I’m a little too used to being able to get exactly what I want, when I want it, regardless of the impact. So for now, maybe I’ll work on diversifying my cooking skills.

*Some of the books on economics that I own, appreciate, recommend, and haven’t finished reading yet: Natural Capitalism, by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, L. and Hunter Lovins

White Man’s Burden, by William Easterly

Deep Economy, by Bill McKibben


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