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Somerville Local First

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Jul 24 1:27 pm

CONTEST: Win Taza Dollars & SLF Swag

Share your Taza Thoughts or Story - Win Taza Bucks and SLF Swag

Jul 24 1:27 pm

As part of our continuing effort to help get the word out about SLF Member Taza Chocolate‘s attempt to recover from flood damage, we are going to run a contest over the next week.  After all, people love free stuff, people love chocolate…this all seems to make sense to us.

So here’s the deal:  Anyone who comments on this blog post by Saturday, July 31st @ noon will be entered to win the following prize:

-$20 in Taza Dollars, to be redeemed at their soon-to-open retail location in their Factory.
- A choice of SLF Lim. Edition T-Shirts (must pick from avail inventory)
-2  SLF Water BPA-Free Water Bottles
-4 Smencils (Scented Pencils…yup, really)

Taza Dollars + SLF Swag + Local Love = WIN!

And what KIND of comment should it be?  Well, since this is all about our friends at the Chocolate Factory, we want you to either:

-Send our friends some thoughts or love
-Share a story about Taza Chocolate

And there you have it.  We do reserve the right to curate comments, but enter one and you’re entered in the contest.  The winner will be announced on Monday, August 2nd via our Blog, Facebook & Twitter.

Filed under: Blog Posts,Carousel,Our Members — Tags: , , — SLF @ 1:27 pm

Local Somerville Businesses Support SLF - Amazing SomerFun Video by Paper Fortress

Jul 23 12:30 am

Somerville Somerfun 2010 Event from Paper Fortress on Vimeo.  The speech ends and music begins at about :45.  Music by Josh Lederman & The CSARs

by Joe Grafton

SomerFun did not quite work out how we had hoped and planned (note to organization:  outdoor events are affected greatly by rain), and set SLF back financially for a bit.  But we pulled together and persevered that day.  We learned a lot and we still managed to create a great experience for those who braved the showers.

As I wrote about in a post about the Street Attack video series earlier this week, one way in which we are blessed is the support of the creative community.  As I watched this video, I saw images of so many supporters.  I saw business owners, artists, nonprofits and community members all enjoying being together and doing so out in the community.  I saw people supporting SLF and each other.  Which brings us to Paper Fortress and Stebbs Schinnerer.

Stebbs is a pretty big deal, I think.  He went on tour with Johnny Cupcakes, renowned T-shirt artist.  He’s created stunning videos about Union Foundry, a Recover Green Roof & Green City Growers collaboration building a garden on top of a restaurant and documented the Floods in Union Square.  It’s painfully obvious from watching any of his videos that the boy’s got talent.

And so as we were planning SomerFun, Stebbs and I started a conversation about documenting our event through his firm, Paper Fortress.  As the financial outlook started to worsen, I told him we probably couldn’t afford his work.  He told me:  ”Don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it out“.  And when the final numbers came in, our video budget went from little to nothing (or negative?).  But Stebbs didn’t seem to care.

He believes in what SLF is doing and, more importantly, cares about Union Square and his community.

Yesterday, whhen he sent me the link to the video via Gchat, I let loose with the gratitude and appreciation.  His response?

no worries man, seriously. i appreciate it but i want to help build the community around here, and if it means helping out with a little video here and there its no biggie at all

And that’s how independent business owners roll.  And it keeps us (and me) going through any of the tough times, and  makes it all worth it.

Thanks Stebbs!!!

PS~

Thanks also to local recording studio professional (and SLF Artist) Damon Leibert and Josh Lederman & The CSARs both from in and around the ‘ville, for providing the incredibly appropriate track “Pretty Betty”.  They play a monthly at SLF Member Precinct in, you guessed it, Union Square.

Filed under: Blog Posts,Carousel,Events,Our Members,SomerFun — SLF @ 12:30 am

The Training Room Celebrates 1 Year In Business With Fitness on the Avenue

Jul 22 10:51 am

by Maren Kravitz - Co-Owner, The Training Room

As a local privately owned fitness studio, the Training Room understands the importance of creating strong relationships with clients. It is our goal to create a unique personal work-out experience. We do this by offering classes and personal or group training without any monthly membership fees or yearly contracts. One can simply walk in or reserve a spot through our online scheduling system. We hope that such flexibility and customization will ultimately lead to lasting healthy habits in the community at large.

In this spirit, we are also celebrating our first anniversary with a charity “spin” event this Saturday, July 24th from 12 PM to 6 PM.  The event will be held along the new Somerville Ave./Elm St. parking corridor, located in front of the facility at 691A Somerville Avenue. Attendees will be encouraged to spin outdoors to display their support for fitness and breast cancer awareness.

Live music provided by Felix Brown will keep an upbeat tempo for the riders while Roz Puleo, founder of the Boston Luna Chix cycling team, leads the participants on their cycling journey. In addition to the charity cycling event, The Training Room will have FREE fitness and yoga classes, games, and prizes throughout the day.

Donations, in any amount, will go to The Breast Cancer Fund and are greatly appreciated.

Filed under: Blog Posts,Carousel,Featured Homepage Post,Our Members — SLF @ 10:51 am

Somerville: The Paris of New England

Jul 21 2:55 pm

by Maggie Kaiser and Louis Epstein

Hey! We’re Maggie and Louis, Somerville residents since 2006.

We live in the Spring Hill neighborhood. We have a dog and a vegetable garden. We like to cook and we love to eat.

We love radishes!

We recently returned from a 9-month adventure in Paris, France. As newcomers to an unfamiliar culture, we saw the streets of Paris with curiosity and wide-eyed enthusiasm. We documented our questions, musings, frustrations, and achievements (successfully ordering the right sausage at the butcher! win!) on a blog that turned into an opportunity to reflect and remember.

The Burren's Red Door...Paris indeed!


Now that we’re back in Somerville, we’re excited to approach a familiar place with the same curiosity and enthusiasm that Paris inspired. It’s not so hard, given the similarities between the two cities. No, really, it’s true! Both are organized around squares; both boast great restaurants, food boutiques, and weekly markets; both hide rich history and culture in plain sight.

As bloggers for Somerville Local First, it will be our duty and pleasure to rediscover Somerville, starting with the everyday details that go unnoticed despite their distinctiveness.

We’re constantly seeing things that make us wonder, and our Somerville Local First blog posts will attempt to answer questions like…

Is the pizza at Posto as interesting as the building it comes out of?


Will we get to climb the turret of the East Cambridge Savings Bank when we Move our Money there in the next few weeks?


What smells so delicious hiding behind those reed blinds at 316 Highland Ave?


We hope you’ll check in with us as we rediscover our own city, share our Somerville-specific knowledge and experience, and generally live in the here, the now, and the local.

Why Local Works - The Street Attack / Somerville Local First Video Series

Jul 20 4:03 pm

by Joe Grafton

Street Attack: Vision Episode 4 Somerville Local First from Mykim Dang on Vimeo.

We’re so excited to present the first episode in a video series about The Local Movement, Somerville Local First and some of its Local Business and Nonprofit Members. We are incredibly grateful for all the time and effort that went into this project. It is a perfect illustration of what keeps our organization going. Here’s the story:

To be blunt: SLF is sorely lacking in resources. We’ve received no grant funding and little funding from government (although the City of Somerville’s Economic Development Department did help fund our coupon book last year, which was pivotal in our growth for which we are very thankful). So telling the story of the movement is always challenging. But the creative community in Somerville and Greater Boston, who appreciate the work we do, has helped us out tremendously.

In almost every case where we’ve produced something to build the movement, designers, writers, web developers, photographers and videographers have graciously donated their talent and resources.

And in this case, things are no different. Street Attack is a Boston-based alternative and digital marketing agency. Mykim Dang, host and producer of the series, also happens to be a former member of Fringe Movement, one of our favorite business incubator spaces. Mykim reached out to us in May with this offer. Street Attack would shoot, edit and publish a series of videos about the Local Movement, SLF and its members. They’d do it for free. And we could use the content in anyway that we wanted.

It is this type of outreach that demonstrates the power of community and the supportive environment it fosters. This is where we’re going in the movement, because it is where we should be. Faced with difficulties and challenges, we are reminded that amazing community members surround us, willing to offer their love and assistance. And they surround you too.

We would like to again thank Street Attack for this work and all their help. We hope you enjoy the series and share them with your friends, and feel more connected to the movement and our members.

Filed under: About SLF,Blog Posts,Carousel,Featured Homepage Post,Video — SLF @ 4:03 pm

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

Jul 19 5:31 am

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 10% Shift, Shift your Shopping, Move Your Money, Harvest Fest and SomerFun, which will be updated throughout the year.
    • Tweets from around the ‘ville – A live-updating tweet list of SLF members and SLF partners
    • A more active and engaging set of content about the Local Movement, here in Somerville and beyond
    • Shift & Save coupons!  - Want to buy local?  Want to save money?  Then buy Shift & Save coupons from the SLF website.  These coupons get you great deals from our members and help provide much needed capital to the SLF organization.  COMING SOON!
    • Real time, location based mobile coupons on your smartphone!  - SLF has partnered to pilot a location based coupon system for iPhone and Android users.  Simply come to our home page, click on the Mobile App widget from anywhere in Somerville, and see offers from our members in real time.  COMING SOON!
    • An easy way to 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

Get Your Shift Together for the Holidays

Jul 18 4:39 pm

by Rachel Oldfield

“Losing sight of what’s important” during the holiday season is an oft-heard phrase. From having the wildest July 4th party to presenting the most elaborate Thanksgiving dinner possible to making sure the in-laws are impressed by your Christmas cheer, holidays and gift-giving can be warped from the warm, meaningful experiences they are supposed to be (examples here and here - Editors Note the 2nd link is to Amazon, but you can ask Harvard Bookstore to order if for you instead). The fact that most magazines feature cover stories with the words “holidays” and “stress” in the same headline around the months of November and December is a testament to the reality of this time of the year.

Yet usually when one refers to divergence from the true holiday spirit, it is in reference to a heavy focus on materialism instead of spending time with one’s family or appreciating what one already has. There is, however, more than one meaning of this idea. In some form or another, the holidays we celebrate all come down to the honoring of values – American or family, Christian or not. When we give gifts to our loved ones, we think of the joy it is bringing them. But do we think about the values are gift-buying is promoting, and the external impacts of these purchases?

The truth is, our gift giving and holiday preparation can celebrate these values, bringing joy and making a tremendous difference not just to the people for whom they’re intended. Where you shop also makes a difference for your entire community. Studies have shown that when you spend locally, because of the multiplier effect, more of that money will stay in the local community than when you purchase from non-local businesses. More of this money circulated regionally instead of nationally creates more vibrant local communities – more jobs, more money in economic activity, new entrepreneurial ventures – that can be woven together to form an economically stable nation.

The holiday season is extremely important for retailers every year, as revenue from that period could represent up to 40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. Each fall the media floods the news with stories of predicted sales booms and busts, covering the one-month period between Thanksgiving and Christmas like it were the Super Bowl. And while chains and conglomerates have some wiggle room for “bust” holiday years, Local Independents (those are businesses that are privately held and locally operated) rely heavily on your patronage to stay in business and keep your community strong and dynamic.

If you already practice local spending or have not yet tried to make the shift, doing more of your shopping at Local Independents during the holiday season can be an easy and concrete way to contribute to your community’s economic wellbeing. And it doesn’t have to be hard – why not give your aunt a massage from a local spa, your dad a gift certificate to the nearby barbecue restaurant, or your niece a handmade bracelet from a local crafts store? I would rather get a gift certificate to Redbones than a pair of new socks any day. Plus, aren’t those unique gifts always the more memorable ones ?

As Americans all across the country join together in a spirit of cooperation and rebuilding, it seems that many are starting to recognize the importance of local shopping. Not only did cities where active Local First campaigns exist report a less severe drop in sales in 2007 than those without (3.2 percent compared to 5.6), but 95 percent of retailers surveyed said the fact that their business is locally owned matters to their customers (up from 82 percent in the survey the year before). Clearly more and more people are beginning to recognize the importance in choosing to shop locally. We invite you to become one of those people.

Filed under: Shift Your Shopping — Tags: — SLF @ 4:39 pm

The 10% Shift: Rethinking “Local”

Jul 18 4:29 pm

The concept of “local” is not so unfamiliar, especially in the realm of food. In recent years, famers’ markets have gained tremendous popularity (although by no means do the majority of Americans shop there) and the local food movement has been covered by all sorts of media. Michael Pollan’s 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma discussed the merits of eating food that has been grown and prepared locally. His book generated a huge amount of support and controversy. Now considered a pivotal piece of literature on the food industry, it was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by The New York Times.

Yet only more recently are Americans starting to discover the multiple meanings and applications of the concept of “local.” In March 2008, Somerville Local First was founded to promote “local” in the gastronomic sense, but also in the economic sense – to spread the message that patronizing local businesses is not only good for them, but helps keep economic activity within the community. The New England Local Business Forum (NELBF) was formed in the fall of 2008 and quickly adopted the 10% Shift as a key campaign. It had become clear that the idea of shifting a higher percentage of one’s spending to Local Independent businesses (privately held and locally operated) would actually translate into new jobs, new economic activity, and stronger local communities. Studies have proved it and experts have agreed with it time and time again.

The 10% Shift campaign is unique because it is sustainable and all-inclusive; it is not a temporary strategy that will boost the economy in the short-term and then leave it to flawed practices and institutions a few months or years later. It is also a solution to an economic problem that carries no political agenda or causes partisan division. It is a lifestyle change that can be practiced, and practiced easily, by virtually everyone at least in some degree.

10% Shift is not seeking to just make a difference for one segment of the country, one ethnicity, or one region – it will help all Americans. Shift today.

Filed under: 10% Shift — Tags: — SLF @ 4:29 pm

Moving our Money in Somerville

Jul 18 1:56 am

(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.

Photos from SomerFun 2010

Jul 18 1:39 am

Here are a few great photos from our talented friends at Supertonic.

Mayor Joe Talks at SomerFun

Groundwork Somerville's great map game for the kids

People were loving the dunk tank

Everyone's favorite local chocolate company, Taza Chocolate

Shiny Things for your nest with Magpie

Local Ice Cream from JP Licks

A BIG thank you to event sponsor The Independent

SomerFun water bottles, made in the USA, bought in Somerville and BPA free

Local delights for the canning demonstration by Green City Growers

Filed under: SomerFun — SLF @ 1:39 am
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