By Larry Downey | Community Manager, Lowcountry Local First

As lovers of the Lowcountry, we understand that we have a choice in what we buy and from whom we buy it. We have a choice in what we eat, and from where and by whom it’s grown. Collectively, our choices have great power. To build or break a life. A business. An economy. A city. A culture. We the people of Lowcountry Local First offer a simple solution: choose the Lowcountry.

Lowcountry Local First is a way of life that celebrates and supports what we love most: the local, independent businesses and farmers who reflect the unique character, flavor, and culture of the place we call home.

Okay, you caught me; I took that directly from the Lowcountry Local First Manifesto. But while the extra text does boost the word count for this blog post, that’s not the (only) reason behind my waxing poetic. “As lovers of the Lowcountry, we understand that we have a choice in what we buy and from whom we buy it.” The “we” in this statement refers to the community known as the Lowcountry. That means you. That means me. That means your grandparents. That means your grumpy neighbor. As a community, we have the collective power to support each other when we choose to patronize locally owned businesses.

Blue Bicycle Books in downtown Charleston, SC.

Blue Bicycle Books in downtown Charleston, SC.

As an organization, we spend a lot of time and focus on supporting locally owned businesses, restaurants, and farms. It’s kind of what we do. The overwhelmingly positive feedback I hear from business members at our monthly mixers tells me that we’re doing a pretty darn good job. And yet, something doesn’t feel quite right; the circle doesn’t seem complete. We as an organization need to do more to engage the “we” in our community.

2014 Buy Local Block Party. Photo: Adam Chandler Photography.

2014 Buy Local Block Party. Photo: Adam Chandler Photography.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we do a ton for the community and host interesting events that individuals enjoy. I guess what I’m missing, what I’m wishing for, is to see more connections being made between our business members and the community. These connections foster a sense of “togetherness” and a bond that even further engrains the importance of how much power our choices actually have. Yes, there is something special about spending money at a business knowing that you are investing in the place you love by doing so. There is something exceptional about knowing the owner personally, knowing his or her child, and knowing that the money you spend will go toward the upbringing of another generation who will continue to contribute to the community we all hold so dearly.

May 2014 MEmber Mixer at Urban Electric Co. Photo:

May 2014 MEmber Mixer at Urban Electric Co.

January 2015 Member Mixer. Photo: Foxworthy Studios Photography.

January 2015 Member Mixer. Photo: Foxworthy Studios Photography.

Did you know that as a community member you can participate in our monthly member mixers and receive discounts on our ticketed events throughout the year? This is an extremely fun way to get involved and engaged with the local movement, not to mention a great opportunity to meet the people who own and work for some of your favorite businesses. There are always amazing local libations and snacks to tantalize your taste buds, if you like that type of thing. Finally, and equally as important, you will be choosing to support an organization that’s sole purpose is to make sure the Lowcountry continues to keep the character that we all love so much.

So, choose the Lowcountry –  Be a Localist and Join the Movement!

Larry Downey
Community Manager at Lowcountry Local First