5 Ways to Show Local Love
It is no secret.
I love my city.
I mean, I really love it. I love the people, the food and the happenings. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see numerous pictures of me out and about in my town experiencing all it has to offer. I have even created my own hashtags: #DesMo #iheartmycity #lovemycity.
I believe to have a great city, you need great people supporting it. None of us have unlimited time to volunteer or money to donate to city projects, but we all have opportunities to show the love to our community.
I eat at locally owned restaurants and frequent locally owned coffee shops. I shop at a local grocery store and try to hit up the farmer’s market every Saturday I can. I spread the word on great local businesses through word of mouth and social media. When out of town people come to visit, I try to take them to all of my favorite haunts. I support local art through volunteering and also attending local live music when I can.
Here are 5 ways to show your city just how much you love her:
1. EAT local. Des Moines is home to some of the best restaurants in the Midwest (in my unbiased opinion, of course). But seriously, we have George Formaro! Anyone who has been to Centro, Django, Zombie Burger, or Gateway Market knows they are getting quality and delicious food – most of which is prepared with local ingredients. I’m a big fan of eating at local restaurants. Everyone goes out to eat. I find that when I choose a local place, the experience is much better. The food is tastier, the service sweeter and the vibe is true to the city. So if you haven’t already, try out a new local restaurant next time you meet friends for dinner. Is there a diner in your neighborhood you’ve always wanted to try? What about a small ethnic restaurant you are curious about? Patronizing these establishments helps out your fellow neighbor and strengthens the economy. And next time you plan a vacation, do a little internet research about where the best local restaurants are. Chances are you will have a better overall experience of the place you are visiting. (Resources: Fomaro Files, Urban Spoon)
2. Cook Local. Eating out locally is usually pretty easy. Cooking locally can be a little more challenging. Are there local grocery stores in your neighborhood? Maybe a market where you can get homemade bread or that carries unique items? You may find you like the small market feel better than the chain grocer. Often, a small grocer might have local and organic produce you can’t get at the box store. Don’t forget about farmer’s markets! They are seasonal but a great way to connect with farmers in your area and eat seasonally. Are there CSAs (community supported agriculture available? A CSA is a convenient way to get local produce delivered to your doorstep. Not only are you supporting a local farmer, your food is traveling less miles from the field to your mouth – big win for the environment. (Resources: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; Find a CSA; Eat Local Challenge)
3. Shop Local. Every town has a local coffee shop that you can buy your morning latte from as opposed to the giant chain. Does your neighborhood have a local coffee shop? If you do buy coffee out, make a point to stop at the local shop more often than the chain. Most larger towns also have an established or revitalized neighborhood bursting with niche shops and local treasures. Is there a historic area in your city? Not only will you have a blast exploring a different part of your city; most likely, you will find gifts that are just as unique as the person you are buying for. Some of my favorite gifts to give (and get!) are local bath items such as soaps or lotions, candles, and of course- baked goods. Shop Local Saturday is a great opportunity to check out your city’s local establishments. When I’m out of town, I always get my coffee from a local cafe when I can and make a point to buy any souvenirs from a local shop.
4. Party Local. We are midway through spring and well on our way to summer. The time of outdoor music shows, art festivals, and craft fairs. On any given weekend in Des Moines, there are multiple events available I can attend to show my support of the community. Often, these events are free and family-friendly. Attending a local event is a great way to spend time with friends or family and enjoy the unique opportunities your city has to offer. Here in Des Moines, we are the proud home of The Des Moines Art Festival and Bacon Fest. Make a goal to attend one or two new events this summer as a way to show your patronage.
5. Rock Out Local. I feel lucky to live in a city with such a thriving local music scene. Des Moines is home to the Des Moines Music Coalition, a non-profit that supports the local music scene. Every summer they host 80/35 - a music festival that has brought such names as Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Girl Talk, and the Avett Brothers. In addition to the big festivals, we have multiple small venues that host local bands (often for free) and national acts passing through. Check your local paper or join a mailing list to keep up to date on what music events are happening in your city.
And of course – don’t forget about social media! Twitter and Facebook are great ways to stay up to date on what is happening in your neighborhood and what your favorite local establishments are up to. Be sure to ‘like’ their page and follow them to get updates.