Somerville Local First

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Move Your Money


The Move Your Money project is a nonprofit campaign that encourages individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions.

We have already seen the disastrous effects of a bloated, unstable financial system run by big banks. When community members move their money out of these larger conglomerate banks – banks that are “Too Big to Fail” – and into local community banks and credit unions, they help lay a more stable foundation for our financial future.

Why do local banks and credit unions help our economy? These institutions are generally more linked to the community because they are more conservative about how they manage their money; they are closer to the people and businesses in their community and they’re more inclined to make loans to these places that they trust. Better values, better results.

Plus, local financial institutions often have fewer fees, better customer service, and offer greater returns for consumers. So why not make the Move? Already two million people have left their big banks in the first three months of 2010, and the movement is growing.

The Relaunch of the Somerville Local First Website – A resource to find Locally Owned and Independent Businesses in Somerville

Welcome to the new SLF website!  We’re excited to completely relaunch our web presence in an effort to better promote the local movement and our members. At the same time, we hope to engage in meaningful dialogue with you, our fellow community members.

This site is intended to serve as a community resource: a place for learning and discussion.  To help you continue to Shift your Shopping to local and independent businesses, we are incorporating a number of new features:

  • The SLF Blog – Our new blog based site will feature wide ranging contributions every week from many different sources, including:
    • SLF Staff, Interns and Board of Directors
    • SLF Members – entrepreneurs, artists and nonprofit directors
    • Community Bloggers – community members who are passionate about ‘local’ and want to share their Somerville stories
    • National Experts – people around the country who are working to build strong local living economies
    • Multimedia galore!  – We’ll be posting photos, reviews, videos and more to the site in the coming months.  We hope these tools will continue to build the awareness and behavior change we need to take our movement to the next level.
    • Campaign and Event pages – We’ll have living pages dedicated to the link“>Shift your Shopping, link“>Harvest Fest and link“>JOIN SLF – We now have membership categories for businesses, artists, nonprofits and community members.  Each community can easily join our growing network and become part of the movement to build and sustain our local economy in Somerville.

This is just the first step to developing a community resource for local economies like no other.  We want to know what you think…in fact, one of the main reasons why we chose this format was to create and foster dialogue.  So if there’s something you’d like to see, something you like (or don’t like), please let us know.

Stay tuned this week for daily blog posts, including the beginning of a video series on SLF developed by Street Attack. We will also be hearing from our first Community Bloggers and providing more details on our Shift & Save coupons and mobile applications!

Shift Happens

~jG

Originally posted on...July 19th, 2010
3 comments

Moving our Money in Somerville

(This article was originally published on The Huffington Post)

Across the nation, local and independent businesses are organizing. The “local movement” is experiencing a boom, BusinessWeek recently observed. In 2006, about 40 communities had ‘buy local’ organizations. That number now tops 130. These Local First Networks and Independent Business Alliances are independent community-based nonprofit organizations, with a mission and vision of a sustainable and thriving local economy. More than 30,000 independent business owners are now leading this movement, together, and that number grows by the day. Somerville Local First in Somerville, Massachusetts, one of the nations most densely populated communities, on the border of Boston and Cambridge, is one of these networks, and we’ve seen our message embraced in and around our community over our first two years.

But this rapid growth is based on more than just a feel-good mentality. An emerging body of economic research shows that doing business with local independents is the fastest way to restart and reshape our economy. Civic Economics, a leading research firm, published the LocalWorks study, commissioned by LocalFirst in Grand Rapids, MI. That study revealed that a 10% Shift from non-local to local purchasing would provide significant and fast economic paybacks. If the 600,000 people in the Grand Rapids metro area shifted 10%, they would:

  1. Create 1,600 new jobs, reducing unemployment by .5%
  2. Create53 million in new wages
  3. Create137 million in new economic activity for the region

The study results have since been replicated in New Orleans, and spawned the 10% Shift campaign in New England, and now in more than 10 US States. In Somerville, everything we do in community education and messaging relates back to this achievable and reasonable goal: Shift 10% of whatever you’re now spending to Local Independents and we can reshape our local economy.

And now, Somerville Local First has turned our attention to the financial sector. Locally owned banks and community based credit unions have been shown to provide a significantly higher level of responsiveness, service and, most importantly, lending to our community. While the largest 20 banks control 57% of the total deposits in the United States, they do only 28% of the small business lending. Compare that with small- and medium-sized banks, who control only 25% of the deposits but dispense 54% of the dollars loaned to small businesses.

Based on all of this, we’ve decided to launch a Move Your Money campaign, asking all sectors of our community to move their money out of the banks that are too big to succeed, and put it into the financial institutions that are truly rooted in our community.

Stacy Mitchell, a leading researcher and author in the local movement and an expert on community banking, says “Moving your Money is one of the most important things that you can do to promote sustainable local economies. Local businesses depend heavily on small, local financial institutions for loans, as these organizations do the majority of lending to small businesses, local nonprofits and entrepreneurs. By moving your deposits to a local financial institution, you’re helping to build and reinvest in your own local economy.”

We’re confident that this hyper-local campaign will succeed. We’re using all the tools at our disposal, avenues both proven and innovative. From printing flyers and financial learning sessions to social media campaigns and electronic surveys that provide near-instant feedback to our community partners, we’re leaving no stone unturned. We will also, as we always do, keep our message 100% positive. Sure, we’ll make comparisons to illustrate the differences between Local and Non-Local banks, but we’ll leave the vitriol to someone else. This isn’t about revenge against big banks; it’s about revealing the overwhelming strengths of the local financial institutions already in our midst. In our community, it’s simply accepted that Bank of America and the other Too Big to Fail banks don’t have our communities’ best interests at heart.

Individuals and organizations in Somerville, Boston, and beyond, are recognizing the added value that local businesses deliver to our communities, and are choosing to buy local first. Our Move Your Money campaign is centered on changing behavior, raising awareness, and continuing to plant the seeds of change. And, as we’ve witnessed through our work thus far in the community, we predict that people will begin to proselytize their friends and neighbors, and the movement to support local financial institutions will to spread virally. As campaigns like this one take off and their success becomes apparent, more and more communities will take up the buy local banner. In fact, just this week in New England’s 2nd largest city, Worcester Local First announced their Move Your Money Campaign.

The energy surrounding movements like Move Your Money, Slow Food, and The 10% Shift is encouraging and should give us all hope. If we’ve learned anything from the financial meltdown, it is that we must start thinking much more carefully about how we choose to exercise our economic influence. When we choose local as customers and consumers, we take back ownership of our community. The local movement is growing, and it’s reaching across industries and sectors like food and finance. In Somerville, we feel that the movement to reclaim our local economies is what’s truly Too Big to Fail.

Originally posted on...July 18th, 2010
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