A few years ago I got a first hand illustration of how local economy works. I was at my neighbourhood bike shop, paying for some repairs. As my debit payment cleared, the owner and I started talking and he began to tell me about how much he enjoyed eating at the cafe next door. This cafe next door serves locally-roasted coffee and locally-baked pastries. And at that moment I grasped why supporting your economy by buying locally matters so much.
Think of it like a water cycle. My money came from outside the province and was like rain bringing money into the small local reservoir of my bank account. Now I can choose what to do with that reservoir. I can order a bunch of things online, and pump it directly back out of the area. Or, I can buy locally and contribute to the local aquifer. The money I spent at the bike shop would flow to the cafe, nourishing its employees and flowing to their local vendors and to their employees, and possibly to some more local vendors. Up until this point I only saw money as something that went from point A (my pocket) to point B (someone else’s pocket). But this wasn’t true. At this point I had an image of an entire local area being “watered” by outside money and that money serving as many people as it could before eventually leaving the area to nourish other areas by paying for things we couldn’t get from here. Since then I’ve tried to be conscious of how we spend our money, choosing local options whenever I can.
“But Todd, this project is about Kindness. I know that supporting your neighbours is nice, but what does this have to do with kindness?
Pretty much everything. Money isn’t the only thing that works this way. Food webs have worked this way as long as there has been life, after all. And, I realized recently, kindness works this way as well.
Your kindness enriches those around you. Sharing it locally makes those around you happier, and those people distribute it and they make other people happier. One person’s kindness, properly multiplied, can change the world.
So where does the “Kindness Economy” start? With you, of course. Get out there, do something nice for someone and enrich your neighbourhood and world. And if someone is kind to you – pay it forward. With interest.