Regionalism, Part I

There’s a massive revival going on in the world today. This revival is affecting the hearts and minds of the people as well as the way business is done. And it’s a good thing

The shift towards regionalism has been gaining steam for the last few years, and I must say that I feel that this is a good thing! Regionalism first came to my world from one of my great passions in life -coffee. Getting a cup of coffee from a coffee shop which roasts their own beans on site was the first step in a lifestyle shift. It wasn’t just me though, people all over were waking up and smelling the coffee.

Walking into Barefoot Coffee Roasters in Santa Clara, CA that first time was like opening a Pandora’s Box… Next thing I knew, I was roasting my own coffee and extolling the virtues of not roasting past second crack. Unleashing the passion opened a path to whole new levels of passion -and snobbery, of course!

From there, I went on to craft beers, enjoying minute differences in various whiskies, understanding the difference between a $20 shirt and a $450 (even if not able to comprehend yet the justification for the price difference!) shirt, knowing the difference between dad jeans and hipster jeans, and on and on. Which brings to the point of this post…

I’ve been seeing the bumper sticker for ages… My high school Biology 2 teacher had the sticker tacked to the bulletin board next to her desk way back in 1991. Think Globally, Act Locally… However, I don’t think I ever fully comprehended that simple statement until now.

Anyone with an education knows that small, local actions can affect a very broad scope if given the opportunity to make a difference. We know that buying local, organic produce is good for the environment as well as the local economy. We know that the first step in affecting change in the US Government is to change who we send to Washington to represent us.

But do we truly understand the effect on the global system that occurs when we choose to purchase jeans from a major global retailer selling a product from a major global corporation whose product is made by child laborers in China?

The first company that caught my eye in this regard was Raleigh Denim, a company which prides itself on the fact that all of the fabric and hardware that goes into its products are made within 200 miles of Raleigh, North Carolina. The more I began research, the more the idea drew me in. Two people with a passion for denim producing a quality product in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. I began to wonder what the ramifications would be if most things were sold within 200 miles of where they were produced. What if ‘Made in China’ was the rare label?

Like all good stories in this blog, there’s a thrift shop involved… Yes, I thrifted the pair of Raleigh Denim jeans that sparked the Google search that led me into the world of high-end denim. But it’s more than that… I then found a pair of jeans by Tellason. You could say that Tellason is my (and as it turns out, not the only) local equivalent to Raleigh Denim. They make their jeans in the literal and spiritual home of denim, San Francisco. They are one of (that I know of) two brands carrying on the tradition of jeansmaking in The City. Levi Strauss started it, Tellason and Gustin are carrying on that tradition.

Imagine a world where goods are purchased from local people. People you know. People whose kids go to school with your kids. People who you see at the local cafe in the morning. People you cut off in traffic because you’re in a hurry to get to work. You know, your friends and neighbors? Can you picture it? Your produce comes from a local farmer who now can sell his produce to the local market (and is no longer relegated to obscurity at the local Farmer’s Market). Your coffee comes from a local cafe that roast its beans on site every few days. Your clothing is all made reasonably locally. Fashion trends are longer lasting because people buy things that will outlive the trends. Is this a pipe dream? Is this possible in this day and age? I’m not sure, but it seems to be the direction we’re heading in!

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2 thoughts on “Regionalism, Part I

  1. Its a nice idea but,… there are serious issues with it. Take these for example: many areas can not grow coffee beans , people in the NW would never have an orange and would any one in the US have pineapple, many areas do not grow the materials to make large quantities of clothing such as cotton. I am all for buying US.
    I get the idea for sure but realism and balance are key as well 🙂 (great blog btw)

  2. That’s why I never mentioned growing coffee. =)

    I recognize that there are things that cannot be produced entirely locally. I personally love bananas, but they don’t grow here. There are lots of other things that can’t grow here.

    And I promise that part 2 is in the works…

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