Being Local

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

6 thoughts on “Being Local

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  2. I am trying to raise the same issue at the city council meetings about keeping business local. They are in the process of trying to get ahold on the rising health costs of health plans for the city employees and they are in the process of getting in bids from brokers. I encouraged them to use brokers locally if possible as these employers live locally, have employees who live locally and they pay business and residential taxes and will spend money locally, if given the chance. The current insurance broker is from the Albany area and I cannot see where their dollars contribute to Ulster County or to the City of Kingston economy. They collect the premiums from the city but it does not trickle down to the local level.

  3. It’s strange. An out-of-area broker does not bring anything back to Ulster County. The more local dollars can be created, the better. We wouldn’t then find ourselves in a situation where we have to find the very cheapest deals elsewhere.

  4. Some politicians state that we have to get the lowest bid. That is fine but it depends on how really low a bid is when you start to look at the big picture. What does it create when you can’t give the business to a local firm? 1) Possibility of unemployment since there is no business to conduct and now employees have to collect unemployment, possibly food stamps and medicaid if they lose health benefits.Mortgages default and no revenue from mortage taxes since nobody can afford to buy a home, and no shopping conducted with the local businesses because there is no disposable income anymore.
    2) These same business owners pay business taxes and if they have no business to conduct they close up shop and it further erodes the tax base which the mayor is fond of bringing up.

    3)Cannot attract professionals if there are no professional jobs around. Most brokers have to hire a professional staff that is licensed in NY State in order to sell their insurance products.

    So what we have here is the lowest bid is not always advantageous to our local economy if you award it to an outside source with the lower bid. So now we have impacted the local resources of social services and we all know that is not a cheap expenditure to localities.

    Just a thought…… Maybe a dire prediction but one to think about. It eventually comes full circle. I always like to be proactive and not always reactive.

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