With friends losing jobs left and right, my patients losing insurance benefits because of job cuts and skyrocketing premiums, and my own struggle to continue living my dream while working 2 (or more) jobs, I've been thinking a lot about our local economy. How to support it, how to survive in it, how to make sure there still is one.
I take advantage of sites like Freecycle.com, Craigslist (buying and selling nonessentials) and Dibspace to find deals or trades for services. My sister grows my vegetables, gives me eggs from her hens and makes me goat cheese in exchange for supplements for her family. My friends and I trade services, hold potlucks, and do volunteer work to gain access to fun activities, like sailing at the Center for Wooden Boats or catching the Ballard Jazz Festival. It's starting to feel like I'll never leave the college mentality (cheap!) behind. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. The wealth of experiences is so much greater- I'd rather catch a show backstage as a volunteer than pay $50 or more to sit in the audience.I'm picking up some awesome sailing and boat repair tips long before I can afford to buy my own sailboat and I can trade volunteer hours for hours on the water.
But let's face it, rent has to be paid in dollars. So do utilities, credit card payments, student loans, insurance, etc. I've been doing a lot of my economy-thinking about how I vote with my dollar. I currently belong to the Seattle City Light Green Up program, which charges an extra $12/month to purchase all your electricity from green sources. I shop at PCC, Trader Joe's, and Fred Meyer for what I can't get from family or make at home. Which isn't a lot, but, in the usual way of things all seems to be needed at the same time. These might be the first things to go and it saddens me to have to give up things I feel strongly about because the resources aren't there to support my values.
When I found out that my favorite DJs were let go from their positions at my favorite radio station, in favor of an out-of-towner, brought in by another out-of-towner who wanted to "shake things up", I didn't have to think about the right thing for me to do. Having spent a large chunk of my first year's marketing budget on advertising through the station, I emailed the new Program Director and notified him that I would be taking my business elsewhere in the future. I didn't just sign on to be a part of their neighborhood spotlight program because it made good sense monetarily. I did it because the DJs showed a consistently strong regard for the local community and its causes. They were forever promoting new charity events and sharing stories about their experiences here in our town.
I do my best to support small businesses in my community, like Sweet Lily Salon in Ballard and Belltown Insurance Group, either through offering them my own business or, when i can't do that, referring my friends to them as much as possible so that they can pay their rent, too. If you like the polished concrete floors in the office- those were courtest of PND Contractors NW, another local business. We got them for a partial trade. The website video was courtesy of Dave Mendel of DMP Media in Magnolia. Our print ads come from Shanna Wilson, a local graphic artist just starting out. Website design from Mindfly Web Studios of Bellingham. If you've driven by and seen our sign out front when we're in the office, that's thanks to City Light Signs, just down the street by Apex Automotive where they keep my car in top condition. Business lunches are usually taken at Perche No Pasta and Vino in Wallingdord, dinners at The Luau Polynesian Lounge in Tangletown.
When it comes to healthcare, there is a delicate balance between making sure that your community is taken care of and making sure your doors stay open. I've been fortunate enough to find a solid group of tenants in my office to help with the rent and this has contributed greatly to my ability to offer discounts to almost everyone who walks in my door. At the same time, I feel like I'm giving a leg up to new business owners who want to begin the process of helping others but don't have a large budget. Everyone in my office is committed to helping our community become healthier and stronger.
In closing, my favorite quote from what is an old, over-quoted chestnut of a movie: "Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?"