Thursday, July 09, 2015

On localism and non-profit partnerships from the grassroots.

A friend forwarded the link below about local gift boxes. It's a good idea, and something that New Albany independent retailers might emulate.

I observed to my pal that New Albany First hasn't come to fruition in the way we'd hoped, and he replied: "Seems like the entire nonprofit community in NA is moribund. That weakens a community, not improves it."

You may have issues with his generalization, and there are exceptions, but as it pertains to non-profits expressly created to serve downtown progress, the going hasn't always been so smooth.

My brief overview, for the sake of discussion: Successive city governments have tended to regard non-profits in a political sense, not as building blocks. They're to be pitted against one another and controlled from above, not arrayed on a level playing field, allowed to evolve organically from the grassroots in pursuit of specialized missions and partnerships, and supported by city government according to their results.

Remember this?

ON THE AVENUES: Inkem binkem notamus rex, protect us all from the city with the hex.

As these non-profits pertain to local independent small business, it's a relationship that must emanate from business owners. It can be neither top-down nor down-low. Some small business owners are cats refusing to be herded; I believe this isn't in their best interest, but they must come to the epiphany themselves. Others wait to be "led" by politicians, most of whom have no experience in running a small business. This simply does not make sense. We should be leading ourselves, and maximizing our prospects through collective action.

"For the longest time, we all waited for a white knight to ride into town and fix the problem. But the Main Street people made us realize that the only way to get it done right was to do it ourselves." -- Russell Thomas, mayor of Americus, Georgia

As mayor, I hope to see our downtown non-profits energized, effective and cooperating with each other toward common goals, each of them approaching these goals from its core area of concentration. Engagement and communication between non-profits and City Hall will be enhanced, because it has to be better than it is now. As applied to these goals, familiar City Hall concepts like "on the fly" and "ad hoc" must be removed from the economic development vocabulary, never to return. What's good for the big is good for the small, and non-profits can help with the glue.

To use Develop New Albany as an example, insofar as DNA continues to evolve positively toward becoming the sort of National Main Street organization it was chartered to be, my City Hall will support it, and join the fight together for platform planks that are in DNA's fundamental DNA as a Main Street organization.

It isn't nuclear physics, Jeff.

If you want better fundamentals, that's exactly where to start: With the actual fundamentals, and not the political sheen.

When Local is Best, by Wesley Kerrick (Voice Tribune)

Sampling the many products made in the Louisville area has gotten a lot easier with the birth of a new company.

Yesterday, Go Local Box shipped its second installment of gift boxes around the city and the country. Each box contains four to six locally made items.

Go Local Box is a subscription service that lets people sign up to receive one box each month, or have boxes sent to others as gifts. Most everything in the box is from Louisville, although a few items come from elsewhere in Kentucky or from Southern Indiana.

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