The benefits of togetherness

There’s a corporate team building activity that focuses on a bushfire scenario. Participants are asked what items/tasks are important to save the house and to put them in order of use, individually. Individuals then join a group and compile a group list. Lots of learnings about negotiation and agreement occur, BUT, when the correct answer is revealed, it shows that the group answers tend to be right, and the individual answers are not as accurate.

Together, we achieve more. Last week in Buffalo NY, USA, BALLE, the organisation setting up business groups who promote local economies, held a conference.

A key theme was prosperity for all. How can we work together to create the sort of communities we are want to live in, and that are economically sustainable? Watch the video here. It sounds awesome (and a bit like new, grown up hippyism!) but there is compelling evidence behind working together to create better business, better communities and better outcomes, as the host city itself shows:

A few short years ago the city was struggling. Long standing area manufacturers had turned their gaze globally and simply abandoned the city. In an instant, Buffalo went from having one of the highest factory wages in the country to being one of country’s poorest cities.

Enter a small group of residents and neighbors who decided to dig-in and address local needs with their own solutions. Seemingly overnight organizations took action—organizations like Grassroots Gardens, the Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, the Coalition for Economic Justice, the Clean Air Coalition, GO Bike Buffalo, and Buffalo Carshare and the city simply hasn’t been the same—in fact it is in the midst of a Localist renaissance. An article in The Economist recently declared Buffalo, officially, “back in business” and it is undeniable that localists played a key role in the city’s rebirth. In 2006 the BALLE network, Buffalo First, began raising awareness about turning inward to overcome local economic challenges.

Buffalo First used localism to fix a broken economy—they focused on strengthening the locally-owned businesses that made Buffalo great in the first place. They launched a “Think Local First” campaign encouraging people to grow and buy local produce, to support local independent businesses and artisans, and to seek out socially responsible businesses. This message resonated with folks so much that, at times, is was nearly impossible to drive down a Main Street without seeing Buffalo First’s signature blue and white “Buy Local” poster in a shop window. Buffalo gets Localism.

Want to tell us about your ‘Buy Local’ campaign? Or do you have a great local business group that’s kicking goals? Send us your story.

And to start a ‘Buy Local’ campaign? We can help. Contact us for more information on how we might be able to assist.


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