Thanks to the bloggers of Locallectual, Jess Meehan and Karen Beauford, for contributing to the Blog of the Week segment on WCAV CBS-19! This blog is such a wonderful resource, giving it just two minutes on the tube just doesn’t seem to be enough. Here’s my online conversation with the bloggers, to give you more information about this site, devoted to the practice of living a locally-supported life.
P.S. You can also follow Locallectual on Twitter http://twitter.com/Locallectual
Locallectual is just over a year old. How did the project begin?
Locallectual began as many endeavors do… we saw a need for a service, and decided to fill it. We could hardly believe such a master resource was not already in existence, and we knew that it would be exactly the type of thing both we and other like-minded folks would use often, with the hope that having an extensive resource of local and domestically made goods at your fingertips would encourage others to begin engaging in these practices as well.
What has the impact of the blog been in the community?
Our blog functions to keep people abreast of buy local/eat local issues in both Charlottesville and in the greater community, including state and domestic initiatives. It is a great springboard for initiating discussions and for examining how they are all intertwined. Some of the topics we like to focus on include listings of events across the country for those interested in buying and eating local, reviews of mom and pop restaurants sourcing local foods, and features on local and domestic producers we love.
Since the blog is collaborative, how did your writers come together?
Our local writers, including ourselves, all came on board organically because they are folks who have a keen interest in environmental and economical issues and how these issues can be addressed by harnessing the power of one’s dollar. Our first “satellite” blogger, out of Seattle, is merely a taste of what is to come. Long-term, we hope to have a whole team of bloggers from around the world, writing on issues pertinent to their particular area.
Are many people in Charlottesville living a locally-supported lifestyle? Has there been growing interest in doing so? Why or why not?
There has definitely been an increased interest in living a locally-supported lifestyle, both in Charlottesville and around the country and globe. This rise in interest is reflected in the exponential growth in food paths such as CSAs and farmers markets, as well as in the increase in other, broader buy-local organizations and initiatives such as Transition Towns and BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). You can see this within Charlottesville in many different forms such as the recent extended season for the City Market (now running until December!), the success of local grocers sourcing local foods like Feast!, Integral Yoga, Rebecca’s, and Cville Market, and the creation of community gardens at local schools including UVa.
What’s the biggest myth people believe about buying locally? What are some of the real challenges?
There are really two huge misconceptions about buying local. The first is that when you spend your money at local chain stores, you’re keeping your money in the local economy. A study done in 2005 in the Chicago suburb of Andersonville (the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics) found that for every $100 in consumer spending with a locally owned mom and pop, $68 remains in the Chicago economy. For every $100 in consumer spending with a chain retailer, $43 remains in the Chicago economy. This study’s results hold true in communities across the US. Another one of the biggest myths is that it is always more expensive to buy locally. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. Savvy consumers are beginning to sort this out. But the main problem is the “hidden costs” of industrial food pathways and cheap goods made overseas. It just really takes stepping back to see the forest for the trees. The main challenges are getting people to be able to actually step back and do this. It really takes a lot of explanation for people to really get it: you pay now or you pay later. The other challenge is the way that the industrial food paths are already in place; it is challenging to go against that grain. And the other challenge, especially for non-food items, is actually finding things that are made locally, regionally, and domestically. But that, of course, is why we are here!