A Chinese fisherman Cai Tu caught a giant turtle which he nicknamed “The Hulk”. Cai estimated the turtle to be 100 years old and weighing about 91 kg. The giant turtle would have brought him in £500 which is equal to two months’ wages if he sold it to local restaurants. But he looked into the turtles eye and realised that the turtle was alive before his grandfather was born and “didn’t want to be the end of that journey”.
So he set the “The Hulk” free, hoping that the ancient turtle wouldn’t get entangled in someone’s nets any time soon.
For some people this story may just represent an old fisherman gone soft. But for others it may well demonstrate the humanity that we all have and the links that we possess towards the plant and animal kingdom or simply nature around us that is rapidly being eroded.
A bigger issue though is that of the deteriorating and sometimes destruction of local communities and their economic sustainability. In this worryingly tight economy when economists are predicting a recession, it makes sense to think of ways to build your local community as a business person.
I recently came across a brewery owner out in Muldersdrift near Johannesburg who went on stage to proclaim that he had manufactured his entire brewery without one single component from China.
The owner of a local T-shirt company said that the was no denying that working with Chinese manufacturers would make things easy but the small business owner felt that working with local manufacturers is a way of ensuring support for local industry.
Sustainable jobs could be developed by producing clothing locally and supporting design schools, new designers, artisan dye houses, block printers and small business screen printers.
The town of Greyton has decided to eliminate plastic shopping bags from all the local shopkeepers and supermarkets. They have provided a long-life bag and although it is unclear whether the bag is manufactured locally the hope is that they will eventually produce a local long-life shopping bag.
In visits to towns in the Free State and in the Eastern Cape you can see how local economies and people are struggling. They have tried all sorts of ideas to promote their local towns such as through local attractions, small art markets and boutiques shops but still they struggle.
Some towns have been able to make the local economies more sustainable through an integrated local network including local business people and the farming community.
Whether you are located as a small business person in a rural town or in a local community on the sidelines of a large city, helping to build your local community economy will ultimately provide a more sustainable solution for your business and others in the community.
Here is just a short list of things that you can think of if you wish to take action in your local community to stimulate your local economy:
- Employee local people
- Source from local small businesses
- Use local raw materials
- Use local creative talent
- Train local young people
- Offer internships for local young people from your community
- Hold local public services accountable
- Promote the benefits of buying local
- Tell heartening local success stories
- Support local artists (musicians, performers, painters, photographers)
- Shorten the supply chain by buying from local farmers direct
- Introduce a farmers or crafts market to sell products and exchange ideas
- Support local businesses (hold onto those you have)
- Encourage retiring entrepreneurs to sell to employees or other locals
Big supermarkets, petrol stations, local community newspapers, discount pharmacies, cinemas and even fast-food chain restaurants suck out money from local communities for their shareholders outside your community, city, province, country. The human costs are high. As are the environmental costs. Buy-local campaigns can help local economies withstand the downturn. Keep money circulating in your local community.
What one action can you take to help support your local community?
What one young person can you help with employment whether that means training, an internship or part-time work?
What success stories can you circulate in your local community about buying local?