Local Life

“… No One Trusts Big Anymore. In The Future Everything Will Be Local.  That’s Where The Magic Will Be…” excerpted from a column by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, 20 February 2009.

This really resonates with me, and is why I love my community so much.  The localness of it.  The proliferance of small businesses, of independants out on the street, claiming their share, offering uniqueness and adding individual character to our beachlife here.

I’m not against big, per se.  But I love the texture of a community comprised of small businesses, the independent man or woman, or small group of folks offering something of value to people who live in a community or those just passing through.

Who doesn’t love a town with storefronts, offering everything from simple ambiance to things we need or want, there in your community.  Aren’t we drawn to be in those kinds of places?  Perhaps we find them while on vacation, as we amble up and down the street, watching all manner of life pass by, as we poke in and out of the shops, chatting up the store employees or a shopper next to you in line, before settling down for a cup of coffee, or a sandwich or an ice cream cone? Is it just me? I do enjoy casual conversation with store owners and the people who work there.  I’ve nothing against the mall,  but I’ve found myself preferring to shop locally for many reasons.  Because the core businesses of our town are what really put the frosting on the cake of this community to me, I think it’s important to support the local merchants.  If we don’t want to lose them, we gotta use them.  I’d hate to see vacancies populating our town center, certainly.  We’ve got such a jewel of a community here: the beach and ocean are steps away from the restaurants and shops of Atlantic and Neptune Beaches, and further on down A1A, it’s the same thing in Jacksonville Beach. There may be a franchise or two but mostly you’ll find truly independent businesses whose survival depends on the patronage of the people who live here.  And since a lot of us are hunkering down it only makes sense to shop locally rather than driving out to the mall and back.  

Nothing wrong with franchises – let me be quick to add – since they are largely operated by a hard working woman or man who is trying to make their way in business like everyone else.  I appreciate many franchise businesses…but I’m captivated by the magic of a great idea come to life in the form of an independent bookshop, a great restaurant, a garden store, surf shop or small art gallery.  These are the unique squares in our neighborhood quilt…it’s in front of these store windows that  I linger…these doors I pull open and enter.  I don’t have a lot of money to spend, and I appreciate the fact that our town is populated with enough small businesses to meet my needs so I can stay within a couple of miles of home 90 percent of the time.

When gas was $4 a gallon I appreciated this even more.

Our bookseller offers many extras that the larger chains often don’t.  There are book clubs where the passionate readers gather, and many authors visit, which, in the small venue that it is, make for  intimate exchanges between author and readers.  We had a very interesting event last summer with writer Andre Dubus III.  He came for a book signing on his promotional tour for his newest book and he greeted the larger audience.  The store hosted a dinner with Andre Dubus and a small group of us repaired to a local (independent) restaurant where Andre circulated, spending a bit of time at each table, visiting with us (paying) dinner guests in an intimate and personal setting.  It was wonderful.  I met some interesting people there and was completely charmed by Dubus who was the perfect author/guest.  He was attentive and polite and made everyone fell as though he was truly interested in them.  I mention this because it was a delightful event that was all about community.  

There are many things about Atlantic Beach and the entire beaches area that make ‘atlantic beachlife’ so satisfying.  I plan to introduce various businesses to you in future posts.  That way if you ever make a visit you’ll have some sense of what gems await you beside the best beach on the east coast!  And of course, I can arrange to be your tour guide. 🙂

There’s never been a better time for the mantra: “live globally, act locally.”  In the age of digital technology and (my beloved) smartphone, you gotta embrace the digital future.  But do your shopping in the neighborhood. 

Do you love where you live?  Tell me about it!


The Fun and Games Continue…

Another shot with the iPhone, using two applications.  First, I took a picture of my eye using Quad Camera to generate the four-square effect.  Then I opened it in Photogene and played with the color effects.

Yes, the iPhone is the best toy I’ve ever had. 

I still want a real camera, with lenses and so forth, but who among us can argue that this little gadget really isn’t all that?

Random Shots from Sunday Beachlife

again with the Quad Camera app for iPhone:

Today?  Celebrating the mild.  Today?  Left my perch at the kitchen window, emerging into sunshine and clean air. Frustrated by lack of a real camera, but enjoying iPhone’s fun photo apps that turn everyday objects into little bits of visual art.

Florida Ice…or, Who Left The Sprinkler On?

It’s Thursday, February 5, 2009 and another fool left the house with the irrigation set to ‘on’ this morning creating these lovely pictorials for our viewing pleasure.

Remember, in these parts, icy vignettes are not the norm.

We might have to seriously consider moving south (again).

(lastly, another iPhone app discovered and installed: Quad Camera)