Chapel Hill News

Art Menius: Summer localist check up

Art Menius

The last Sunday of June featured bright sunlight and pleasant temperatures following a long string of 90 degrees or worse and the violent storms of the preceding Saturday.

Becky and I headed to Pittsboro to enjoy a fundraising event at Mark Hewitt Pottery for Slow Money NC. Several hundred people attended to eat Capp’s pizza and buy pottery. The terrific turnout reminded me how fortunate we are to live at an epicenter of slow foods and the slow money movement which supports it.

Following the Business Alliance for Living Local Economies (BALLE) conference in Phoenix last month, the Pittsboro gathering reminded me why I am glad that I immersed myself in the localist movement. It also pointed out that that time has come to review my New Year’s resolution to evaluate and enhance localist practices.

Dine Local – A (January grade was A): I continue to spend a lot of money dining at Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough owned establishments. I’ll keep doing what I am.

Buy Local First – B+ (was C): I continue to depend mostly on local food sources. As promised in January, I have moved most of my prescriptions to Carrboro Family Pharmacy. Thanks to a reader back in January, I found Office Supplies and More at Timberlyne in north Chapel Hill. I have moved the majority of my book buying to Flyleaf. I also discovered KoboBooks.com, which accounts for 20 percent of eBook sales. If you create your Kobo account through the portal of an independent bookstore (Flyleaf, McIntyre’s, and Regulator belong), the bookstore gets a cut of your ebook purchases. Thus you don’t have to forgo eBooks to buy local.

Bank Locally – B- (was C+): I continue to a member of the State Employees Credit Union, as I have since 1972. On the other hand, we still have an account at North Carolina-born regional bank despite my opposition to interstate banking.

Invest Locally – B (was F): In no area have I made as much progress as in local investments, despite numerous regulatory impediments explained by Michael Shuman details in his book “Local Dollars, Local Sense.” I moved an inherited investment account away from a firm owned by Bank of America. I got involved with Slow Money NC, one of the most successful such groups. That allowed me to make a loan directly to Carrboro’s 54Hops. I discovered the Calvert Foundation’s Vested.org and used that portal to make several in local or socially responsible businesses. Vested.org facilitates investments as small as $25. As I promised here, I read “Locavesting” by Amy Cortese (ordered through Flyleaf Books) as well as “Financing Our Food Shed” by Slow Money NC’s Carol Peppe Hewitt.

Serve and Donate Locally – B (was B+): I continue to donate a bit more than I can afford to local arts and media non-profits. I have gotten involved in the local first Carrboro Business Alliance, while continuing to volunteer as a program host at WCOM community radio and serve on the Orange County United Transportation Board and the Carrboro Arts Committee. Using my knee replacement and Becky’s broken foot as excuses for not expanding my volunteering with local service organizations other than a couple of Chapel Hill Rotary Club projects.

Make my Opinions on Local Matters Known – A (was A-): Besides writing for this newspaper, I contact local elected officials and staffers directly on various matters and sometimes commentate on WCHL. I did participate on behalf of WCOM at public budget hearings for the county and Carrboro.

So I have made some real progress on the localist road map I set out for 2015. Being a localist is not always be easy or convenient, but it provides great satisfaction in knowing that I am helping to maintain the strength of our communities and economies. Remember, each dollar you spend with a locally owned business returns three times more money to your community than does a dollar spent at a chain store.

You can reach Art Menius at artmenius22@gmail.com

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