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My brother and his family came up to visit this weekend from Long Island. Over lunch, I asked them how the recession was affecting their lives, and their community.
They said recent gas price declines have put more money in their pockets, and echoed the headlines we’ve been reading up here of retailers and other businesses closing their doors.
I also asked them about the “shopping and buying local” trend that is sweeping many communities across the country. It seems that Long Island is insulated against this trend. They said except for the Eastern end of the island, local produce and goods are rare.
That’s when I realized how lucky I am to live in Kingston and the Hudson Valley. This is one of the few places in the country where I can find local produce in a supermarket — at Adams Fairacre Farms — or can buy directly from the farmers themselves. How wonderful is that?
I also realized that “buying local” is only one element of a larger, more important equation. The other important part is “being local.” This means being a part of the community you live in.
I’m not just talking about belonging to a local church or a sports organization. These are critical to community building. But “being local” means connecting with your neighbors in a meaningful way. Connections can start small, such as inviting your neighbors over for a cup of coffee.
I’m all for respecting one’s space and privacy — this is needed to live in a civilized society. But I somehow think we’ve all drifted apart and have locked ourselves in our homes, and in front of our TVs.
Given the tough economic times now and ahead, we’re going to need each other more than ever. So, perhaps we can learn how to start “being local” and break down some of those barriers.
Hey…I’ve got the tea kettle on the stove, and some Monkey Joe coffee ready for the making too. Stop on by… 38 Brewster Street.
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz