Buying Local and Other Ways to Give This Season

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Had I started this book club a month earlier, we would be reading chapter three this month – "Buy Local" –  which would have aligned well with the season. Still, in anticipation of next month's chapter, I've done the majority of my Christmas spending this year at independently owned businesses. Mostly, I've done this shopping in Uptown Waterloo to celebrate the re-opening of King Street after a long period of construction (my 2.5 year old kid who loves machines might contest my use of the term celebration when referring to the end of construction, though he is adjusting to the change well) and the survival of many of my favourite stores. 

I wish I could say I only shop locally, but I can't - I also choose the convenience of a big box store and the comfort of online shopping, too. When I do buy local and when I do this in Uptown Waterloo, a couple of my favourite places to visit are the Truth Beauty CompanyWordsworth Books, and Ten Thousand Villages (and then stopping for lunch at Princess Cafe).

I also picked up a couple of presents at the Stitch n' Kitsch last weekend where a number of local artisans were selling their goods. You might still be able to order from them online! You could also head to this holiday popup in Toronto on Saturday or visit Gifted, a brick-and-mortar shop in Waterloo that sells unique gifts, home decor items, and paper goods from a range of independent suppliers. 

While I aspire to simpler, less overly indulgent festivities in how much I'm buying, I do have a lot of fun browsing for gifts because it gives me a chance to think about the people I'm buying for a little more than I usually would and this also makes me slow down in what otherwise feels like a pretty frantic time.

Other Ways to Give

Donation: There are so many places deserving of money and my endorsement of this one, this year, does not mean to take away from the good work of the many organizations I love and support. However, I want to share this particular initiative - Inspiring Futures: Walls to Bridges Bursary fund – which needs to raise $1,655 in the next 18 days to reach its goal, so if giving is possible for you and part of your plan this year, consider giving to this fund. 

This bursary has personally and greatly impacted me this year because I have had the opportunity to teach this year's recipient. She is engaged, driven, capable, and has hugely contributed to my own learning.

The Environment: Want to reduce your impact on the environment this holiday season? Head over to Reading My Tea Leaves for eco-friendly tips for gift wrapping, party planning, transportation, and more this holiday season (and really pretty photos!).

Where are your favourite independent businesses to buy gifts from? In what other ways do you give, during the holiday season or at other times of the year? 

 

 

Source: Centre for Indigegogy, Wilfrid Laurier University

Source: Centre for Indigegogy, Wilfrid Laurier University

When you roll into your town and sigh, "It's good to be home," that's a product of place attachment

It's at the house with the swans, on the busy street just around the corner from our home, where I get the feeling that might indicate I have a strong place attachment - "the affectionate, almost familial connection that can form between us and where we live" (p. 16). Though you might not hear the sigh, it happens deep in my body – a sense of relief knowing the drive is almost over and I am about to plop into my own bed, almost always with the clothes I came home in still on and teeth unbrushed. 

I was surprised, then, to find that according to the adapted assessment on p. 16-17 in This is where you belong: Finding home wherever you are (* I know, I know; this isn't evidence-based, but who doesn't love a buzzfeed style quiz like this? By the way, who is your style icon?), I am what you could probably call connected, though maybe not strongly connected, to where I live. This might shed some light on why I can find myself spiralling into REALTOR.ca searches, something the book's author also admits to, and how I am attuned to noticing For Sale signs in many of the places we visit, something many Americans also apparently do. And I can't be the only one who goes into open houses "just because I like to see how people decorate." 

Feeling connected is pretty good, really, but how might I deepen my sense of place attachment? Following Warnick's 10 basic place attachment behaviours (the next ten chapters!), which she developed after a lot of research and even more conversations, I'm about to embark on a journey to become more connected to where we live. In doing this, I'll remember something Warnick learned through her research: "Small actions mattered. They could change a city, and they could also, I hoped, change the way I felt in my city." 

In talking about place and space, I want to highlight there are tensions that accompany placemaking initiatives and efforts to revitalize neighbourhoods. For example, these can have the effect of pushing some - oftentimes long term - residents out of their homes because they can no longer afford higher rent costs that come along with gentrification. I also want to position this project I am embarking on, to love where I live, in context: because of colonisation and its lasting legacy that continues to negatively impact Indigenous Persons, I write these posts on traditional Indigenous territory:   

"Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is located on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe and Haudenosaunee peoples. We are grateful for all the Indigenous people who continue to care for and remain interconnected with this land. Miigwech, Nia:wen for knowing that our ongoing survival is connected to the land" (Source: Centre for Indigegogy, Wilfrid Laurier University).

Let's see what an online book club can do – in the comments, share your thoughts on chapter one; what makes you feel connected, or not, to where you live; or, who your style icon is! You can also write to me personally. I'd love to hear from you! 

And if you're new here – hi! – this blog post gives more background about why I wanted to start this online book club.

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The easiest book club you'll ever join

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Eight years ago my partner and I walked into what is now our home. The connection was instant and there was no clear explanation why. Perhaps there were places we didn’t yet know about that were calling us like the nearby forest and playgrounds where our dog and kid love to play and run; the expressway conveniently located only 30 seconds from our front door giving us quick access to our families that live out of town; or, the gardens that I can’t quite ever get to look very nice, but love to find moments in, puttering.

Still, over the years, I have sometimes found myself wondering if there is some place better, asking myself these questions, among others: When will we move out of this “starter home” and into our “forever home”? Should we move up north to be closer to my partner’s family, or to Toronto to be closer to mine? Would it be better to move into the country to have some land or to a big city (for me, a big city wins every time even though I badly want some backyard chickens)?

In the past little while I have come to realize I want to stay in this home. Part of it is a matter of convenience – the thought of making a decision about where we might move, finding the actual place, considering the costs of moving, then packing and moving all our things feels overwhelming. Plus, we’ve put new windows in and I figure this place would make a fine home to downsize to in retirement, so why do all that moving in-between? The bigger part, though, is that I feel settled and at ease here, both in the house itself and in the community around it.

I have done what Melody Warnick is suggesting in her book “This is where you belong: Finding home wherever you are”. I have learned to love where I live. Though, I want to fall in love with it more, or differently, so over the next year – starting today – I am going to read one chapter of Warnick's book a month and do what she is prompting readers to do. You can follow along with me here or on Twitter. And if you want to, JOIN ME! It might be the easiest book club you’ll ever be a part of – one chapter a month and there’s no accountability! I got my copy at our local independent bookstore Wordsworth Books.

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