Home Away from Home
By Mary Alice Scott, Portland Buy Local
In September 2010, my college roommate and I moved into her grandmother’s spare bedroom in North Deering. We shared a bedside table with three small drawers and mostly lived out of our suitcases while we looked for jobs.
Faced with a difficult job market and a slowly-but-steadily improving economic recovery, I went door-to-door with my resume, visiting businesses and organizations that seemed like they would be a good fit. When my friend and I needed a break, or wanted to write a cover letter, we’d get a tea at Bard Coffee and join the ranks of well-caffeinated customers plodding away on our computers.
After several days in a row getting tea or coffee, the barista knew our names. And so, Bard Coffee became the first business in Portland that felt like home away from home.
In a roundabout way, these connections led to my first job in Portland. But the experience of walking my resume door-to-door in downtown Portland also cemented two things in my heart: 1) September is the most beautiful month of the year here, and 2) the connectedness that shapes Portland’s entire community is remarkably special.
After ten years living in Portland, any number of local businesses now feel like home away from home. It makes the work I do at Portland Buy Local feel even more personal and important.
Small Business & Social Capital
One of my favorite facts about the benefits that local businesses bring to a community is that they actually increase social capital and connection. The barista who knows your name is one of many people with whom you develop a small but meaningful relationship. Added together, many thousands of these relationships are what shape our community.
Over the last six months, personal connections at every level are at a bare minimum. We’re making this sacrifice for the health of ourselves, our loved ones, and our community as a whole.
But if we don’t provide sufficient support for small business, scores of local businesses will close. By losing these businesses, we risk having communities that are permanently less connected.
One Portland Buy Local member (Josh, co-owner of Print Bookstore) recently posted to Twitter about ways customers can support local businesses. One of them? Leave a kind note when you place an order online. It’s a great way to continue connecting to the local businesses that give us that home-away-from-home feeling.
Mary Alice Scott is Portland Buy Local Executive Director.
Discloser: Publisher Tony Zeli is president of the board of directors and a media partner.