Somerville Local First

SLF in 2010 ~ The Local Movement Approaches The Tipping Point

Dec 29 8:06 pm

This is the 3rd installment of a week-long blog retrospective at the year that was for SLF & the Local Movement in 2010, and a glimpse into what 2011 may hold.  Please add feel free to comment with your thoughts throughout the week. If you missed the previous posts, here’s Part I and Part II

The Tipping Point Grows Closer

Sometimes, reading the right book at the right time can change your life forever.  This has happened twice for me in my life.  The first instance is a story for another day (Ishmael by Daniel Quinn if you’re wondering), but it’s the second book that will lead off today’s post.

From the very beginning of the strategic planning behind SLF, the insight of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell has been ingrained.  After reading it, it seemed clear to me what Local needed to do.

Up to now, we've focused on Early Adopters and Innovators...

Up to now, we've focused on Early Adopters and Innovators...

We needed to create both a deep rooted organization and buzz that reached above the noise of our society, and we needed to do it in a metropolitan area.  To accomplish such seemingly impossible goals, we needed to create an interwoven community of Innovators, Early Adopters and influencers.  We needed to engage  and capture the thought leaders of Greater Boston (Independent Media, leaders in Art/Fashion/Music, engaged and active citizens and so on).  And when we did, they would carry our message, and help us fundamentally (and necessarily) shift our culture.

And I think we’re just about there.

Here are some of the local, regional and national highlights that make me think so:

Shift Happens

Shift is Happening Nation-wide

Shift is Happening Nation-wide

Local First Arizona boasts the largest membership in the country, at over 2,000 local and independent businesses. They are also known for their innovations and advancement of local procurement, research and technology.  This year, LFA launched Shift Arizona.  A 10% Shift inspired campaign that is now active and engaged across the state of Arizona.

And this further demonstrates, as we’ve adopted strategies from others  and they us, that the interconnected world in which we now live will accelerate the local tipping point.  While severely under-resourced, we in the local movement are collaborative and connected.  This is a core strength that makes this movement different….and far more powerful.

Learn more about Shift Arizona here

Local Food & The Boston Local Food Festival

30,000+ attendees shows how Local Food in on our minds

30,000+ attendees shows how Local Food in on our minds

I’ve long said that the Local Food community is one of, if not the, most important early drivers of Localization.  This year, we saw a huge spike in national demand for locally produced foods, which are more environmentally sustainable and support the effort to revitalize our local agricultural economy.

The high point in this community this year, for me, was The Boston Local Food Festival.  We know a bit about first year endeavors at SLF, and the results of the festival were so astounding that they are still being felt today.

Over 30,000 people came to the festival and experienced a vast array of vendors and sponsors…and every one of them was locally owned, independent and based in New England.

There is a belief by many that, to achieve significant change, compromise must be made to include organizations that have a much higher relative amount of resources.  The Boston Local Food Festival showed that we CAN scale our efforts, while maintaining the important (an in my mind absolutely critical) authenticity of working with and promoting only those organizations who fit our profile:  Locally Owned and Independent.

Huzzah for the SBN Local Food Team (left->right):  Fan Watkinson, Laury Hammel, Nicola Williams

Huzzah for the SBN Local Food Team (left->right): Fan Watkinson, Laury Hammel, Nicola Williams

More on this tomorrow…

Collaboration in New England

One of my mentors, and the man I lovingly call “The Godfather of the Local Movement”, Laury Hammel of SBN Boston likes to remind people that, if taken as a whole, the six New England states would represent the 21st largest U.S. State (about the size of Michigan).  Over the past year, relationships between our sister New England networks have grown and strengthened.

The New England Local Business Forum has collaborated on The 10% Shift among other initiatives.   Watching the organizations grow on a shoestring budget and massive volunteer-ism has been inspiring.  In addition, maturing and more established networks and network leaders mentored and supported our brothers and sisters from across the region, resulting in more leaders stepping up and doing the same.  We added 3 new members to the Steering Committee at our last gathering.

But a small sampling of the thinking and collaboration NEBLF fosters

But a small sampling of the thinking and collaboration NEBLF fosters

If we are to truly actualize our mission, it will be because of social entrepreneurs willing to dedicate their lives to changing the world.  And in New England, I think those leaders are emerging.

From the California Bay to the New Hampshire Mountains

And finally, if we want to talk about approaching a Tipping Point, we have to talk about Plaid Friday.

Never have I seen the movement promote anything as ‘sticky’ (back to Gladwell again).  And if you followed the story, we took the lead of our colleagues in Oakland and the East Bay, who created the concept last year.  Once again, good ideas are spreading, and its happening fast: a demonstration of the interconnected nature of our movement.

I have been doing some behind the scenes work for this idea next year…and the results could be dramatic.  I mean, in Somerville alone, we generated over 500,000 (!!!) impressions through our Facebook page during our SHIFT YOUR SHOPPING campaign.

And yet, all of this work is happening on the tiniest of budgets against some of the most well resourced marketing and promotion our world has ever seen….and I think we’re starting to win.

Tomorrow, I’ll go through what I perceive as our greatest challenges as a movement in 2011….and what we plan to do to address them.

Filed under: Local First

1 Comment »

  1. Ishmael is indeed a book that can change people's perceptions of humanity's place in this world. The Tipping Point is pretty good too. Thanks for the summary of all the good work in 2010…and the things that went wrong that you learned from.

    Comment by Wayne — January 9, 2011 @7:42 pm

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