. . . is home. For many of us that’s the Pacific Northwest. Its seasons, its produce, its climate and landscape are familiar. This is our particular niche on the planet.
What does it mean to connect with a place beyond its scenic beauty? Some of us aspire to live locally/seasonally, or at least attempt to do so.
Supporting locally owned shops is about to get a little harder in my neck of the woods where there are eight commercial/retail/condo buildings going up within a couple of square miles. Laid back local shopping and even driving, may be a thing of the past in this community. So 2008. Local businesses are trying to find ways to survive the influx of high end national chains, and neighbors wonder about the loss of the shopping community’s neighborly character. Corporate owned franchises will surely displace smaller businesses here – we’ll lament the disappearance of our favorite haunts and probably won’t understand it fully until they’re gone. I’ll miss my neighborhood cobbler if he doesn’t find a way to make the cut, and there are others. It feels like way more than the land is getting bulldozed.
Kurt Timmermeister, owner of Kurtwood Farm on Vashon Island, recently wrote about connecting with community:
“I am a great optimist. To grow food, you just have to be. Even though I can remember the disappointments – read failures – of last year, I have blind faith that every seed put in the ground this Spring will grow into perfect, beautiful vegetables; that every cow bred early this year will give birth to stunning prize winning heifers in the Fall.
I want to move from just eating locally to living life and doing business locally with a vision to what I want my community to look like. Whole Foods has some great products, but it is a large company, centered in Texas. The idea is every dollar spent is a vote for the businesses you believe in.
This brings me to my friend Stephen. He owns the Vashon Wine Shop a few blocks from my farm. You drive by his store when you come to dinner. All the wine for Sunday dinners comes from his shop. He provides a great service to Cookhouse and I want my community to have small businesses owned by real people working in their stores.
The odd thing is, great people, people that believe in local food, drive to Costco to buy wine. Drive to HomeDepot to buy hardware. All to save a few dollars. Every time the dollar-vote goes to the Big Boxes, the small local store gets a little bit less viable. I was at HomeDepot just this week, but I need to stop.”
So, from my soap box here, I recommend stopping by Stephen’s Vashon Wine Shop if you are on the Island. He has great wines, not as many as Costco, but certainly what you are looking for. If you live are in Seattle, stop by the small stores near you. Again, I am a great optimist who can see great communities not just maintained but communities that can thrive.”
I can wrap my mind around this concept of giving money to businesses that mean something to me. That’s why repeated visits to Farmers Markets, the local fish market, wine shop, deli and bakery are so satisfying. The interactions and conversation with people there go beyond marketing, public relations and statistics. They’re striving to make connections too, partly an economic necessity. I get it, but there’s a rapport that feels genuine. Supporting local businesses is another small action toward sustainability.
I understand that a visit to the Kurtwood Farm is a memorable experience. Thank you for words of wisdom, Kurt.
“Where the Hat Hangs” is a summertime curtain call, a revised reposting from the past.