Local doesn’t scale. Local isn’t McDonald’s, even if the McDonald’s is right down the street. Local doesn’t send profits back to a home office somewhere else. Local is something that’s part of what makes where you are unique. As unique and flawed and loveable as your own kids. Something is authentically local if it’s the first thing you’d want an old friend, visiting from the other side of the world, to see. It’s authentically local if its disappearance could potentially break your heart.
Local is suddenly the newest, hippest, most lucrative frontier. The local advertising market alone is estimated to be $100 billion a year. Companies like AOL, Google, Apple and Groupon all want a piece of the action. Some of the devices they sell you are even collecting data about everywhere you go – all to help their local campaigns.
Certainly big corporations add a lot of convenience and consistency to our world. They also threaten to homogenize it. If you want home to feel different from everywhere else in the world – or if you want a world that’s interesting to explore, support what’s authentically local. Know the difference, and vive la difference!
Just today, I was on a panel at the annual VBSR conference and responded to a question along these lines. Many folks in Vermont prefer to eat local and shop local, but do they click local? That is, they prefer the locally owned coffeeshop over Starbucks, and the locally owned hardware store over Home Depot or WalMart… but do they think about iBrattleboro vs. Facebook in the same way?
I’m looking forward to participating on a couple of panels this month. Please join the discussions!
VBSR 2011 Spring Conference
May 12, 2011
Burlington, VT, UVM Davis Center
Changing Media Landscape Brings Challenges and Opportunities for Vermont Businesses
There’s no question that news media are at an interesting crossroads. Many people are sitting in a news netherworld, not wanting to spend an hour reading the local paper but left wanting more by the 24-hour national news cycle. Across the country, new and interesting models are cropping up to fill the need for relevant and easily accessible information, and Vermont is no exception. Panelists will talk about how their organizations are combining modern media with Vermont’s old-fashioned values to fill the information gap, keeping Vermonters informed and connected, and helping them get involved in their local communities.
Citizen Leadership in a Connected Age
May 21, 2011
Vermont Technical College, Randolph, VT
Online Tools for Real World Communities
Many of us have high hopes for what online tools can do to strengthen our community, but we also have worries about the pitfalls of virtual life. Will online gaming replace a game of softball with friends? Will anonymous complaints replace constructive conversations? Learn about strategies you can use to foster virtual connections that spill over into the real world. Session will combine short panel presentations of what has worked in some Vermont towns with discussion and ideas—sharing by the audience.