Gifts To Benefit Whole Communities

By Ron Miller

​This time of year, most of us are shopping for gifts and many are also thinking about year-end contributions to their favorite charities and nonprofit organizations. As in past years, Sustainable Woodstock urges you to “act locally” by supporting our own community’s businesses and nonprofits as much as possible.

​The transition to a more sustainable and resilient society depends, in great part, on “relocalizing” many of our complex systems. We cannot expect political leaders, especially at the federal level, to address the root causes of our environmental, social and economic challenges. First, we need to bring our attention, care, and resources to our own place on the earth. This means building inclusive, more self-reliant communities rooted in a more intimate and respectful relationship to the land, water and ecosystems we inhabit.

A sustainable community requires an economic base of healthy local enterprise. Wealth that leaves communities to purchase products elsewhere is no longer available to provide employment or to support nonprofit endeavors. There are so many temptations to shop online or at big box chain stores, but buying from distant sources sends money away. When we act solely as consumers, interested only in price or selection, we actually pay a hidden price and lose some of the vitality in the place we live.

Vibrant downtowns are inviting public spaces that bring communities together, and thriving food growers and producers maintain a local working landscape, a sense of place. Let’s promote these elements of sustainability by buying gifts from local merchants and producers, and keep resources circulating closer to home.

The same holds true for local nonprofits. Many of the social and cultural assets that promote a high quality of life are fostered by civil society—the voluntary efforts of concerned citizens working together for the common good. If we care about our place, we will nurture and encourage these efforts.

​Holiday gift buying has a huge economic impact on society. Most of us are spending more money this time of year than at other times, and the choices we make about what to buy and where to shop transfer wealth and resources to specific places. Local merchants and farmers are our neighbors; by supporting them, we support our community and working landscape.

Year-end charitable contributions also give us a significant opportunity to act locally. There are, of course, pressing needs all over the world, and it is part of “thinking globally” to do what we can to address them. Still, we mustn’t neglect the genuine needs of our own home community.

To help build a more resilient community, please support local businesses and nonprofits in your year-end shopping and giving. There are many organizations, including Sustainable Woodstock, working to raise the quality of life for all in our region. Learn more about them and find a few that resonate with your values and your hopes for the future.

The transition to a more ecologically wise way of life requires all of us, in our daily choices and interactions, to shift from careless consumption to mindful stewardship of resources. Where and how we choose to circulate money is a key element of that shift.

Do Just One Thing: Support local businesses and nonprofits with your year-end shopping and charitable giving.

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