Cambridge and Somerville Local First - 2011 Coupon Book - Shift Your Shopping to Local First

Tufts & SLF: You Should Get Together More Often

Aug 13 1:52 pm
by Rachel Oldfield


I first heard about Somerville Local First through their job posting for a summer intern. Intrigued at the combination of “Somerville” and “internship,” I decided to look into it. First I was amazed that I had never heard of this nonprofit right in my backyard (being a Tufts student and having lived here for 3 years), much less one whose goal and business it was to be active in my community.

As I’ve gotten to know and understand the comprehensive SLF mission, I cannot help but continuously make connections in my mind with SLF and the Tufts community. While at other schools Greek life dominates campus, at Tufts, students are dashing off to do community service initiatives at a similar rate. Tufts students wax poetic about saving the world and “getting involved in the community” much more than the latest show of Jumbo athletic prowess (no offense athletes, you’re all really talented!). There is definitely a certain community engagement ethos that exists here that is cultivated by the school.

Tufts - A great partner for SLF

But seriously, in many ways it’s almost as if SLF and Tufts were meant for each other. Beyond just being another university (although you might call it the first) to jump on the green bandwagon, in so many ways Tufts is built on a commitment to community betterment and development. Maybe it has something to do with the historically bad town-gown relations from on to off the Hill, but everywhere Tufts oozes the ethos of active citizenship; we even have a whole college devoted to “building stronger, healthier, and safer communities” that aims to have students “share a commitment to actively engaging” in these spaces. Although I guess I can’t say this value of local engagement is universally shared by all Tufts students, faculty, partners etc, there’s no denying that it’s there and, in my opinion, sets Tufts apart from many other colleges.

If you’re reading this blog post I’m going to assume that you know a little something about the work SLF does. But if not, head over to our website – in a nutshell you’ll learn that SLF “…works to build a sustainable local economy and vibrant community here in Somerville, MA … by supporting locally owned and independent businesses and promoting sustainable economic development.” It seems obvious that SLF and Tufts are in many ways working towards the same end goals: improving our community and being proactive about getting involved to accomplish positive change.

Let’s go back now to when I saw this job posting and had never before heard of SLF. What’s going on, why is there not more collaboration between Tufts and SLF, and why aren’t Tufts students and initiatives rushing to support our community-based efforts? Is it the fact that Tufts students can be guilty of paying lip service to the idea of community service but get caught up in the “Tufts bubble?” Informed but unsure how to deal with SLF because it is unclassifiable as a singularly environmental or political organization? Logistical difficulties in turning passion to action on both sides?

Whatever the reasons why, I still strongly believe that a closer relationship between these two entities has the possibility to make great positive steps for all. The lack of synergy right now is only a reminder of just how much a singular community has to offer, and how we can’t stop working to bring all elements together to effect change.

So Tufts, meet SLF. SLF, Tufts. Go.

Filed under: Local First
Tags: , ,

A Word From Your Local Intern

Jul 25 12:10 pm

by Karrie Larsson


My name is Karrie and I am one of three interns working with Somerville Local First this summer. Recently I met up with the other two interns, Julia and Rachel, over at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square for some good old-fashioned co-worker bonding. Surrounded by fine Italian cured meats, we grabbed lunch and discussed our shared love for all things local; it was a splendid afternoon, indeed.

I am no stranger to Dave’s. In fact, I sometimes feel as if my friends and I single-handedly funded their recent expansion. In case you are unfamiliar, Dave’s offers a tremendous selection of homemade pasta, gourmet and artisan specialty foods, as well as unique wines.  But most importantly, they make a damn fine sandwich. All of the ingredients are extremely fresh (it’s in the name, after all) and well paired. Not to mention that the workers behind the counter, most of whom are tattooed and muscular, are definitely the most badass panini makers around. While I normally opt for the classic Caprese or the Savory Chicken #2, I decided to try something new: the Artichoke and Arugula.  As expected, phenomenal – crusty bread, flavorful veggies and mozzarella, topped with a light lemon pesto.

the Artichoke and Arugula at Dave's

After wolfing down the sandwich, Julia, Rachel, and I started talking about why we got involved with SLF and what we are looking forward to this summer. As Tufts students, we’ve all developed a love for the area over the past several years. Somerville has a great, distinct character that is fueled by its many independently owned business. We also expressed a shared interest in learning about this growing national movement to buy local – what it means for the environment, the economy, and the community.

Ultimately though, we are simply really excited to be a part of SLF and the team of truly awesome people who make SLF possible. The organization has come a long way since its beginning just two years ago and we can’t wait to help push it further forward – whether through working on this lovely website/blog (my job), expanding and diversifying the member businesses (Julia’s job), or promoting them within the Somerville community  (Rachel’s job).  We hope that you will continue helping us grow too!

SLF interns Rachel, Julia, and Karrie

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.

Rachel Oldfield

Jul 18 2:12 am

Rachel Oldfield

Rachel Oldfield is a history major at Tufts who has led freshmen as an Orientation Leader and has volunteered with the Leonard Carmichael Society. She has worked as a copy editor for the Tufts Daily and will soon be the executive op-ed editor. Last summer she worked as the marketing intern for the eco-luxury, socially responsible travel company Elevate Destinations and now she is the Sustainable Economies Marketing Intern at Somerville Local First.

Filed under: Blogger Bio

[top of page]

developed with a whole lotta local love by trulygood