First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love. Politicians don’t often talk about love, but it is a word we use at BALLE. And this week something happened that could be described as an outpouring of love in Bellingham, Washington, the community where I live.
A 15-year old natural foods store, Terra Organica/Public Market, put out a call for help on facebook last week. This is a BALLE business and a member of local business network Sustainable Connections. The owner, Stephen Trinkhaus admitted he’d taken some expansion risks the past year that had over-extended their business. He said that they were now on the brink of closing.
He said he had decided to ask for help because if they closed, 60 people would lose their jobs -- and because he really believes in what he offers our community. If they closed, we would have fewer healthy, thoughtfully selected products and services. So he asked if we’d consider shopping there…a lot…in the next few weeks.
Within hours the Bellingham Herald had posted his letter on their website and by closing their sales had already increased by $2,000 for the day. The next day was their busiest day in all of 2012, and the following day was their busiest in fifteen years of doing business here.
A customer came in and offered a $1,000 check as a gift! Others contributed money as well. One person had the idea of buying extra food to give to the food bank, and through facebook, many others decided to do the same. Far away friends of friends on facebook sent in donations! A local citizen organized a “cash mob” to be held five days after the plea for help - on Facebook alone, well over 300 people said they would participate. Several “competitor” businesses showed up to help too. They encouraged their customers to shop at the store in need; one organized a treasure hunt through Terra Organica and then offered free products at their own stores as gifts. Fundraisers and concerts were organized over-night. Some suppliers donated product! Employees even offered to work for free.
We don’t yet know if this level of support will be enough to turn the corner at this late hour, but the warmth and generosity that is being expressed is beyond moving. As the owner, Stephen Trinkhaus said, “THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THE SUPPORT. Consider us BLOWN AWAY by the outpouring. There have been more than a few tears, and so many hugs that they may well outnumber the quantity of fresh local blueberries sitting on our produce rack right now. BELLINGHAM (and beyond) – WE LOVE YOU!”
Yes. At BALLE we say Yes to relationships, Yes to caring for each other, Yes to love.
BALLE’S founding impulse is well described by our co-founder Judy Wicks,
“At its heart, the localist movement is about love. It’s the power of love that will help us overcome fear in the hard days ahead as we confront the effects of climate change and peak oil. Our love of place, our love of life give us the courage to protect what we care about most – children, communities, animals, nature, all of life on our beautiful planet Earth. And, I would say for the entrepreneurs amongst us, our love of business. Business has been corrupted as an instrument of greed rather than used to serve the common good. Yet we know that business is beautiful when we put our creativity, care, and energy into producing products and services our community needs.”
Nobody needs to do it alone.