Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Occupy Project

Hey, kids.  There's a thought. After you're done Occupying Wall Street, you don't have to just walk away. You can stay engaged and stop supporting the corporations that perpetuate this cruel, messy economy.

Of course, that's is easier said than done, and in some cases, the best we can do is work our way up and down a spectrum that runs from pure evil to pure good. It's simple enough to stop buying shampoo, but where do you go for a mortgage when you want to buy a house and don't happen to have $171,900 in your pocket*?

Back in the early 90s, I was standing in line at a Phish show, and some flower child came long with a basket full of Burt's Bees lip balm (the ones that came in that neat little metal tin), giving them away to anyone who wanted one. It was awesome lip balm and from a company that was all about doing good things in the world. Sign me up! I'll use this stuff forever!

Except, whoa. Fast forward a bit. It was nice while it lasted, but then the company was sold to Clorox in 2007, and now is part of corporate, polluting, don't-give-a-rat's-ass-about-the-world America. Where's a body to turn for lip moisturizer?

Well, if you're in Chattanooga, your first stop should be 423balm, which is locally sourced and produced by Cece, a person you can talk to, and whose ultimate goal as not to enrich her stockholders or become a millionaire (really! I've met her!), but rather to make the world a better place and to use local products while connecting local consumers with local producers.

But if you're not in Chattanooga, you might want to find your local producer. And the best place to start in that endeavor is at your local farmers market.

Go. You'll be surprised at the selection and if you don't see the particular thing you're looking for, ask around a bit -- talk to the farmers and the other patrons. A lot of the people at farmers markets are really committed to buying local, so chances are whatever it is you're after -- anything from garlic to soap to corn meal to furniture -- someone else has found a source nearby.

But what about when you can't buy local? How do you know who has a white hat and who is sporting a black one? That's what this project will be about, and it's very much at the start-up stage. Please feel free to contribute links and suggestions and I will keeping adding to the page as more information comes in.

The page will be up some time this week. If you know of any resources for finding the sustainable producers for any kinds of products, let me know!

*The banks may all be evil, but have you checked with your local credit union?

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