Community – Shopping Local

This Christmas my brother sent me a beautiful hand-knit chunky scarf in just the perfect shade of gray. The color is cozy. It has four square brown wooden buttons on it, and the power to completely change the look of an outfit.

 

I opened it as soon as the packaged arrived. It was a beautiful and thoughtful gift, but after I talked to my brother, I loved the scarf even more.

It was made by a woman who lives in his town.  She is creative and talented, and she is bravely fighting cancer.

I adore that this scarf was handmade by someone who works and lives and creates in the same town as my brother. I love that when I wear this scarf, I think of the woman who made it. I feel a connection to her; after all, I’ve been gifted a product of her creativity.

community - a world where the makers and the shoppers unite to support and promote each other.

Over the last few years, I’ve thought so much about community, our neighbors – the creative people who share our space, and carve out their existence right alongside us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could become their cheerleaders, the people pushing them on to success?

As a consumer, what if I shopped at my local neighborhood stores? What if I sought out that creative person and commissioned them to use their talents to make me one-of-a-kind gifts? What if I ate at the restaurants owned by my neighbors?

Would it make a difference in my community?

What if we all did that, right where we live?

A few years ago, I decided to buy all my Christmas gifts in my own town. We didn’t have any big shops, no major retailers. We did have an artisan community though, some small, locally owned shops, and holiday craft fair. I did about 95% of my shopping this way. I’m not naive enough to think my few dollars changed anyone’s life, but it changed me a little.

I began to see all the talent around me. Instead of complaining about all my little region of the world didn’t have, I realized how blessed we actually were.

I am absolutely blown away by all the stuff people make. It’s amazing, and wonderful, and bit magical to think that we have such talent living among us.

We complain so much about big-box stores, waiting in endless lines, manufacturing being outsourced to third-world countries, child-labor, unsafe working conditions, and unfair wages, but none of that will change until we begin to change.

I’ll be the first to admit to big-box store shopping. I go to Walmart all the time, so it’s hypocritical for me to even write this post. I do what’s easy, what’s convenient for my wallet and my schedule. I’m not even necessarily against big stores, or chains, or multi-billion dollar companies, but I am also for the guy down the road trying to make a go of his small business.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know if the artist and the big-box store can co-exist, but I sure want to hope they can.

Whenever it is in my power, I want to encourage the person making stuff. I want to support the shops and restaurants, and small businesses in my community. I want to buy “hand-made with love.”

I kinda hope that one day, I’ll be able to associate each of my scarves with the person who made it. There’s just something ridiculously cool about that idea.

Makers gonna make, and shoppers gonna shop. Can’t we make it work for both of us?

 

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If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on a completely different part of “community”, head on over to thedomesticfringe.com, my personal blog. I’m talking about my son’s sixteenth birthday and asking a question.

Does it really take a village to raise a child?

 

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I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Please feel free to share your heart and ideas.

 

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Snow Princess - Paper Flower Crown

Snow Princess

Creative projects don’t always go the way I expect, but sometimes, my disasters can turn into something better than I first imagined.

Snow Princess - Paper Flower Crown

I made a bouquet’s worth of ruby-red flowers, hoping to put them on a wreath form. After spending an entire afternoon making these flowers and greenery, I finally finished my wreath.

It looked terrible.

The scale was all wrong.  The flowers were too large for the size of the wreath.

Snow Princess - Paper flowers on crown

Reinvention

I’m not always good at taking my failures and turning them into something beautiful. I’m stubborn enough to have a one-track mind, so going with the flow doesn’t always work out for me; however, I believe real success is learning to live and thrive in my circumstances, even in failure.

Paper Flower Crown - Red and Green - Snow Princess

Snow Princess - Red and green paper flower crown

I sat at my work table and deconstructed my ugly wreath.  I really liked the flowers and couldn’t bring myself to throw them in the trash.

Now, I’m so glad I didn’t give up on them!

Snow princess - Paper Flower Crown

Redemption

I love that we live in a world where our mistakes can be redeemed.  The ugly made beautiful. Our failure turned into success.

I’m so thankful for second chances, in big things and in the very small things.

Snow Princess - Paper Flower Crown

Snow Princess - Hand-made Paper Flower Crown

I’m glad the wreath didn’t work out; otherwise, my daughter and I would never have had this fun photo shoot in the snow.

 

Snow Princess - Paper Flower Crown

Don’t ever give up on creativity. Sometimes your projects will work, and sometimes they won’t. Some days you will know success, and other days will seem like a total failure. It’s all part of the process. Beauty often comes from brokenness.

Where is your creativity taking you?

I’d love to hear your story of failure turning to success. Please share in the comments!