Since landing a “real” job and having to make actual decisions regarding the things I buy, I’ve really tried to understand where consumer goods come from, how they’re made, who benefits from their purchase and what the impacts of my buying them are. As a result, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the whole “buy local” movement and have come to a conclusion: it’s a lot more complicated than I thought.
Take, for instance, the popular bumper sticker often found on cars made by the “Big Three” automakers: “Lost your job yet? Keep buying foreign!” A sticker I had often thought would one day be found on the back of my own car.
Looking a little more closely, it’s easy to see that the sticker’s sentiments aren’t exactly on the mark. The gist can be found in places like this, but suffice to say that in today’s international, globalized marketplace, few items are so easily classified as “domestic” or “foreign”. Certainly not cars.
But aside from that, I’m curious as to what most people think about buying things that are indeed local: produce, wine, art and so on? I for one make sure I buy Ontario produce at the grocery store because I recognize the importance, in terms of food security, of having a domestic source of fruits and vegetables. I also know that if I want to ensure my own economic well-being, it’s far better to send my money to the farmer in Glanbrook than it is to send it to the one in Guatemala. Nothing personal against the South Americans, it’s just that they don’t exactly contribute to my province/country’s social systems, or buy the products MY company may make like the farmer down the road.
While that may make sense to most people, many people also claim to worry about the plight of the third world farmer-hence the rise of “fair trade” items, such as coffee. So does this mean we’re torn as to who we support, don’t really care and purchase goods as we need them or something else?
Though I see the “buy local” movement as a great thing, I think it’s important for people to fully recognize the implications of their spending and purchasing habits. Intelligent consumerism is never a bad thing.
Forget busy- last Friday’s James Street North Art Crawl was bursting at the seams! And for a mountain boy only now really discovering downtown, it was a little overwhelming.
People were jammed into every gallery/shop/inch of sidewalk along the crawl to discover for themselves just what Hamilton’s so-called “creative class” is doing these days. To say they’re doing a lot is an understatement.
From nude photography (not my favourite, but obviously someone enjoys it) to beautiful mural-like artistry, we encountered a very eclectic mix along James Street North- and that’s without mentioning “Dramabot”, the robot-like deliverer of classic monologues.
Though every site we visited offered something enjoyable, our favourite place along the crawl wasn’t even a gallery. It was without a doubt The White Elephant, for which I can’t even begin to write a description. Suffice to say it’s a little like a classy thrift shop for historians, albeit with free candy for hungy art crawlers. And to the girls who run the store (who keep their own rather entertaining blog) I should tell you: I will be back for my $25 Sir John A print.
I won’t speak for them, but my friends probably wouldn’t call me the artsy type. Tom Thompson I know, but only because he paddles by in a Hip song. And while I’ve enjoyed friends’ art exhibitions I’ve never really understood them.