In many religious traditions, there is a strong emphasis on missions. Generally, when people think of missions, the first things that come to mind are donating items to shelters for people without homes, volunteering at Boys & Girls Clubs, or serving food to those who are hungry, all of which are very important.
Yet, there is another way that each of us can be in mission, and that is to shop and dine locally. “What?” you ask. “How are those missions?”
Locally-owned businesses employ people who live within our communities. Without the income they receive, our neighbors risk becoming a part of the homeless population. It is always easier to prevent homelessness than gather resources to get people back into housing.
By supporting local businesses, we build relationships with store owners and employees, which, in turn, develops a sense of community, mutuality, and well-being for everyone.
Shopping locally supports innovative and creative entrepreneurs within our neighborhoods. My favorite example is Ten Women Gallery on Montana Avenue where local artists offer their handcrafted artwork for us to purchase and enjoy in our own homes.
Dining in locally-owned restaurants support our local farmers market and our local – often organic – agriculture. In return, we benefit by enjoying regional cuisine prepared by innovative chefs, such as at Kafe K on Main Street.
To me, shopping and dining locally provides a huge service to the men and women who are working hard to build and sustain businesses for our convenience and enjoyment. Plus, independent businesses make our communities unique and interesting.
During the pandemic, large corporations such as Amazon and other mail order companies, were life savers for those who were concerned about going out to shop. They provided a safe alternative during the height of infections.
However, when we purchase from these multinational companies, the money we spend leaves our community. By buying locally, we retain financial resources here, where they can support our neighbors and be reinvested in more unique enterprises.
This change in habit from purchasing online to shopping locally may be a fresh way to be in mission to our community while we continue to donate and volunteer in other vital organizations.
By Janet Cromwell