Localize your Community


There are dozens of ways that cities and regions can “go local” as a way to increase the quality of life in their community, strengthen the local economy and increase a communities resilience.

Every community is unique, but here is a list of possible starting points.

  • Study Local – typically, there is little data to quantify the impact, success or failure of local independent businesses.  If the data is not available, there is no way to measure the success of local focused programs
  • Monitor Quality of life indicators – Happiness index, Genuine Wealth Indicators, are all gaining traction as ways to fully understand and increase the real health and vibrancy of a community
  • Asset Analysis – basic asset mapping in conjunction with appropriate KPIs will allow appropriate targets to be set and monitored
  • Import Analysis – what is your community importing and is there an opportunity to replace that with local production, or a local industry opportunity
  • Subsidy Analysis – what is being subsidized and is it delivering the appropriate value to the community over the long term
  • Local Procurement – What products, good and services can be procured within the region & what is the cost/benefit analysis looking at economic impact – rather than just cost
  • Local Investing – can local dollars be invested locally or made available to community based entrepreneurs
  • Local Public Policy – do your policies ensure a level playing field for local business
  • Economic Development Policy – does your long-term strategy include maximizing the impact of community-based businesses

For additional information please contact me at jessie.radies@thebluepear.com


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Localize your Business

"Leverage" your localness.

If you are a local independent business owner you have an opportunity to make a significant difference to your community and to your business. 

Often we think about our community impact based on how much money we donate to “causes” in our community, or by how much money we donate.  These dollars are typically a very small portion of our overall operating budget. 

By maximizing your “localness” you can improve your local economy, encourage economic diversity, create unique and livable neighbourhoods and increase the long-term sustainability of your community & your business

Here is a short list of small changes that can start you down the localization path.  Start with the ones that are easy, and appropriate to your business. 

  • Market the fact you are a local business & that you live in the community
  • Localize & shorten your supply lines and market them 
  • Look for local business service providers, a local lawyer, accountant or graphic designer
  • Find a local independent caterer for lunches or a local restaurant for business dinners
  • If you have out of town guests, find a unique local hotel as accommodation
  • Advertise in locally owned media & local radio stations
  • Refer to other local businesses
  • Work collaboratively with other local businesses in your sector, capacity can be built through collaboration
  • Be vocal about gaps in the marketplace that may be opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs
  • Support local charities and non profits with your charitable contributions
  • Ensure your team understand the importance of local business in your community 

If you have questions or need additional support - please contact me jessieradies@gmail.com

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Story of Stuff

Despite all the talk of “shopping local”, my first suggestion is we need to shop less. And when we do shop – Shop Local.

Annie’s video clearly shows how all this “stuff” is killing our planet.  


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Tedx Talk 2011

I was lucky enough to be asked to give a TEDx talk in Edmonton in 2011.

Here is a link to the Talk

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Interesting resources and links

f you want to learn what other communities are doing to relocalize their communities, here is a list of resources and links.

 BALLE  in international organization made up of local business networks committed to sustinable community development

Institute for Local Self Reliance - collection of policy information and research on community concerns ranging from energy, access to capital, food and retail

 AMIBA an American organization committed to local business and buy local programs

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How to be a Localist!

Going Local is something more and more families are trying to do.

There are many reasons for this trend. They could include Social Justice, Environmental or Economic reasons.   

Here are some easy steps to assist you to localize, pick the easiest points first & If you have questions or comments or suggestions, don't hesitate to email me.



Localize your home - rent from a local landlord or take a mortgage from a community bank

Live in Local Style - Use local materials for your home and if you are building, use a local architect & builder, great furniture can be found from local artisans or from locally owned retailers

Minimize Automobiles - use your vehicle less by walking, biking, carpooling, using mass transit and living in "Walkable Communities"

Fuel Up Locally - make your car very fuel-efficient, use local fuels when they are available and gas up at a locally owned gas station

Local Car Service - find a good local independent mechanic that you trust and who charges reasonable rates.  Use the local car wash, auto parts store and a local insurance agency

Dine Local - avoid chain restaurants

Buy Fresh and Local  - Link up with local farmers; rediscover local bakers, cheese makers, butchers, chefs and caterers

Support Local Retailers - be loyal to competitive local pharmacies, bookstores, hardware stores, service providers, gift shops, and clothing retailers.  When you need something, there is a local retailer that can supply it.

Play Local - spend more time at local sporting events, playgrounds, parks, films and plays.  

Heal Local - use local doctors, dentist, therapists and alternative healers.

Minimize Household Energy use - do the 101 things that you know that reduce your need to purchases of energy.  If possible, become a micro generator of power and sell your energy back to the grid

 (Adapted from Michael Shumans - Smallmart Revolution)

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10 Benefits of a Local Food System

Everyone has different reasons for buying at the farmers market, or going to a local bakery or meat shop.  

Here are my top 10 reasons I buy local food, there are dozens of other reasons, but these are the 10 that resonate with me.

10 Benefits of a Local Food System

1 - Freshness

2 - Increased Flavour 

3 - Diversity of products

4 - Increased Local Economic Impact

5 - Increased regional Food Security

6 - Shorter Supply Chain = less shipping

7 - You know the Environmental Standards of the producing county

8 - Community building opportunities around food and food culture

9 - Diverse ownership makes the industry competitive

10 - Local owners can be held accountable for business practices 

Feel free to send me your reasons for patronizing your local food system
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Are we worrying about the wrong things?

Our city & province spend a lot of time worrying about growth & how we are going to manage it.  Oil Sands & resource development drives our economy, and our biggest concerns are how to manage the growth, how to attract and retain the skilled people we need to ensure our economy can continue to grow.  

Alberta_GDP_by_sector_-_2011.jpgI don’t think growth is our biggest issue.  I think dependency on one industry is our biggest threat.  

We often worry about “peak oil” or the $200/barrel of oil.  These things don’t worry me that much, I believe that these changes may come, but it will be a gradual change, and we will adapt and change, I also believe that we live in a bit of an insulated bubble.  It may happen, but we will feel it here after other regions have figured out how to adapt.

My bigger concern is $50/barrel oil.  We know that oil sands production is an expensive  process, and it doesn’t make economic sense unless oil is at about $70/barrel.  We know the price of oil is volatile and is impacted by a small number of factors.

What would happen if the price of oil dropped for a year, or 5 years, or 10 years? 

It would decimate our economy and our communities

We do not have the economic diversity or resiliency to bounce back from that kind of economic shock.  Our agriculture & manufacturing industry are shrinking, our tech and medical industry is highly specialized and comparatively small.  Our local retailers, the construction industry, financial services, business services are in large part supported by the activity that comes out of the energy industry.

Other places have been in similar situations, Detroit, Cleveland, Birmingham and if they saw the downfall of manufacturing, they did not prepare for it adequately. I suspect no one anticipated it and it happened faster than they could adapt.  

For every public dollar we are spending to support oil, oil sands or gas resource development, we should be spending a minimum of $5 in diversifying our economy.  In sectors that can provide our population long term, economic diversity and stability.  

 We can keep worrying about managing growth or we can use the economic opportunity the oil sands offer us to diversify.  Oil is a blessing and possibly a curse, are we smart enough to prepare for the end of oil, no matter when or how it happens.

 I really hope so.

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Building the "New Economy"

BricksSP.jpgThe Nation magazine in the US has published a great piece in its June 13, 2011 printed edition, entitled The New Economy Movement. The article presents a good overview and draws together various strains of the new economy.

It is also worth mentioning that Alberta-based Live Local is a member of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) and a social enterprise that is very much a part of this “new economy”.

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Economic impact of local merchants compared to retail chains

research_SP.jpgI was at a meeting in Austin, Texas several years back when I asked this question:

“Why would I pay more for a book at a local bookstore, when I can get exactly the same book online for way cheaper?”

Little did I know, I was asking Steve – the owner of BookPeople in Austin. He had been involved in this study a few years earlier and he generously took the time to explain the economic impacts of local business to me.

The study, entitled Economic Impact Analysis: A Case Study – Local Merchants vs. Retail Chains, was done by Civic Economics and is one I reference often.

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