We recently celebrated our first year as Re>Thinkers, the fostering of Localism and our energetic efforts to encourage what has become an organic, living, breathing movement. Here are some highlights from this past year, and a glimpse of what’s in store for 2014…
In 2013, Re>Think Local focused on building community and education through monthly networking events – our Re>Mixes. Valuable connections were made and ideas blossomed at these gatherings, which took place at great local venues including Bull & Buddha in Poughkeepsie, Fruition Chocolate Workshop in Shokan and aboard the Hudson River Clearwater Sloop – to name a few.
We had our… Speaker Series, a forum where local leaders including Sophie Faris of B Lab, Jacobowitz & Gubits senior counsel and Re>Think board member Gary Schuster, Guy Kempe from RUPCO, Shawn Del Joyce from the Wallkill River School of Art, Linda Marston-Reid of the Dutchess County Arts Council, and Ric Dragon of DragonSearch Digital Media presented information on topics like New York’s new “benefit” corporation law, regional creative placemaking efforts, and social media strategies for values-driven businesses.
Our own Ajax Greene speaks regularly and recently addressed an audience at the Small Business & Economic Development Forum. The event was co-hosted by NY Assemblyman Steve Otis and Re>Think Local member – Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in October. The topic of the forum was about why Local makes sense, and how shopping locally this holiday season will benefit our communities. How timely!
BALLE Mama Judy Wicks, co-founder of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and founder of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, also shared her stories of social entrepreneurism and local food on what was probably the hottest day of the summer. Inside the Barn at Buttermilk Falls Inn, we stayed cool and inspired despite the 90+ temps. Thanks to HandPicked Nation for sponsoring the afternoon.
Localism 101 – a nuts-and-bolts workshop on becoming a “triple bottom line” business was developed – placing equal emphasis on environmental impact, social responsibility, and financial profits.
We spent a few incredible days at the annual BALLE conference in Buffalo, NY, where other localists from across the country gathered to strategize, share ideas and examples of how localism is being infused across the country. Buffalo is making serious strides in urban agriculture, community building and creative placemaking – which we all got to see first hand. It was an inspiring road trip.
Re>Think also supported and hosted conferences around two important “building blocks” of a sustainable local economy. The summer kicked off with a downpour, but spirits were not at all dampened during our first TedXLongDock in Beacon. The full day, packed conference took place at the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries and focused on the creative economy, with local businesses and volunteers coming together to make it all run smoothly. You can still get highlights from the conference here.
In September we partnered with the Omega Institute, a Re>Think member, for our Wellness Conference – where over 70 Hudson Valley Wellness Professionals gathered for a day of collaboration, conversation and planning to help grow the Hudson Valley into a major destination for Wellness. With over 50 ashrams and spiritual centers that already call the Hudson Valley home, we’re well on our way. Many thanks to our passionate speakers – Joe Concra of O+ Festival, Susan Weeks, Founder of Healthcare is a Human Right, Nancy Plumer and Dr. Nancy Eos from the Rondout Valley Holistic Health Community, Drews Energy, Artistic Wellness Director at the Center for Creative Education/DXF, Career and Relationship Coach, Blair Glaser, business development guru Melissa Gibson, CEO of New in Town, Inc., River Rock Health Spa‘s Babs Moley, Holly Shelowitz of Nourishing Wisdom. Gratitude to our sponsors, The Williams Lake Project (lead), Dion Ogust Photography, Heart & Soul of Beacon, Hudson Valley Skin Care, Field Apothecary & Herb Farm, Movement 4 Life, EarthMind Wellness Center for their generous support.
To round out a very full year, we threw a party and fundraiser to celebrate our first anniversary and all things local on Tuesday evening, November 12th at The Falcon in Marlboro. It was a fun, festive evening with live music from Big Joe Fitz + the Lo-Fi’s, a silent auction of over 20 fantastic local items, great local food and dancing. Leading up to the event, Sommer Hixon from Phillipstown.info ran a story about the party and Re>Think Local, interviewing Scott Tillitt, Doreen Johnson, Kelleigh McKenzie and another local Beaconite and Re>Think Local member/partner – Ed Roy of J6 MediaWorks. Thanks to Ed for his video talent throughout the evening, and Paul David O’Hanlon for his photography during the event.
Next year, Re>Think Local’s plans include our Indie Impact Study – a region-wide look at the economic benefits of buying local, and a grassroots-style campaign to get citizens, business owners, and nonprofit boards to pledge to shift 10% of their purchasing to local. If you are a local restaurant or retail storefront and have not signed up to take the survey, please consider it. You can get more info and take the survey here.
We’ll take our Localism 101 workshops on the road to regional business organizations and also join with Re>Think members to plan monthly gatherings on relevant topics. Our Re>Mixes and Conference Series will continue and planning is already in the works through 2015. We’d love your help and input to make it all happen. Email us for more info on how you can get involved.
Re>Think Local Board and Staff will be out and about in December, networking and spreading good cheer with our members and other local businesses in Orange, Dutchess and Ulster counties.
We are so thankful for our first year partners, sponsors, members, those who contributed their knowledge, expertise and heart-warming support to help co-create a better economy for all of us. We look forward to a vibrant 2014 with all of you. Happy Holidays from all of us to you and yours.