Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.


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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Buying Local and Local Engagement

Coming up next on the Campbell Conversations is a discussion with Chris Fowler, founder and executive director of SyracuseFirst, a non-profit dedicated to pushing out the "buy local" message.  "Buy local" can mean different things, and Chris parses that out in the interview, but in making the argument for buying local he introduced an idea that really got me thinking, and that I now wish I had pursued more thoroughly.

It's the notion that a community engaged in buying local could become more locally engaged, in civic terms.  This thought sat in between the lines of some of what he said, and at the margins of some of his other comments (about strengthening the local commercial base, for example), but the more I pondered it, the more sense it made to me.  The very process of making the effort to buy local could prompt us to learn about our own area and engage with each other in a way that could lead to further interactions in other spheres, and to a stronger sense of connection with and commitment to our local community.  In other words, we could become better citizens.  Sounds pie-in-the-sky, I know, but it's worth a thought and perhaps a try. 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your assertion that buying local may lead to more local engagement and ultimately to better citizenship reminds me of arguments made in favor of residency requirements. "Living local" would ideally increase engagement and citizenship. Rather than requirements, I'd like to see incentives offered to teachers, police officers and firefighters who live in the town or city they serve.

Grant Reeher said...

Ok, but note that neither I nor this organization is suggesting a requirement approach; the approach is precisely the one you favor--encouragement, and some incentives (if I follow SyracuseFirst's website correctly, in addition to what Chris said on the show).

On the residency requirement you bring up, that's been an interesting issue to hear debated here locally over the years. My sense of the main argument in favor of it is that if local taxpayers are funding the salaries, then the employees should be contributing to the tax base by living in the same locality (especially if they own property). But my sense is also that opinion had been shifting against the requirements, on the grounds of not being realistic and filtering out some good talent. I wonder whether that hasn't shifted back again with the economy...

Incentives are an interesting idea--did you have any particular ones in mind?

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