Thinking Local

We began working on this issue, the first of the New Year, well before Thanksgiving. During this time, we pause to reflect on the year past, and resolve to begin the new one with optimism. I recall that eight years ago, we gave birth to this magazine. Prior to the economic downturn, the concept was geared to appeal to the more affluent in our region, but in many respects, it has grown to become a marketing opportunity for the area’s many nonprofit organizations.

With finances seemingly always in jeopardy, new fundraising ideas are needed just to keep the doors open. And true to its giving nature, our community has stepped up to the call, as we’ve seen in the aftermath of the recent tornado. In addition to the relief efforts of The Salvation Army and Red Cross, we’ve seen thousands of individuals, businesses and nonprofits step up to help their neighbors in need. From food and financial donations to offers of storage and temporary housing, it’s been heartwarming to see the community come together to mitigate the hardships faced by those displaced by the storms.

We’re reminded again that the most positive impact we can have on our world takes place at the local level. Never has it been more important to think local and shop local—and not just on one specially-designated day, but as a routine. Indeed, where you shop matters, as many studies have shown that directing one’s spending toward small, locally-owned businesses can generate significant new economic activity in the community.

The articles within these pages, like every issue, are about central Illinois residents living and working and playing in our local communities… local businesses, local artists and local nonprofits who are the heart and soul of the region. They are the ones who make our area special, who give us our unique identity. They are our neighbors, our teachers, our firefighters, our mail carriers… They are all of us.

And so, as we begin this New Year, as we rebuild our neighbors’ homes and offer time and treasure to those in need, we should reflect on where we want to go, the kind of community we aspire to be. Because our community will be shaped by us—we who live here, who work here, who play here. We can start not only by shopping local, but by thinking local. Here’s to another year! a&s