Small shift can create big ripples

Offshoot of Shop Local campaign would bolster independent businesses

Jessica Rios owns The Co-Lab leadership-consulting firm and co-founded Think Local, Chico!

Early June begins a fresh, robust movement in Chico to boost our local economy and self-reliance—and it’s all about relationships. It’s time for Chicoans to amp up the positive impact of the dollars we spend. It’s time for 10% Shift, a campaign where thousands of citizens pledge to shift 10 percent of our spending over the course of one year to locally owned, independent businesses.

Why? Because we live here. Because we’re an intelligent community made of people whose values include taking care of our place and each other. Because we can grow food locally, we can manufacture products in our back yard, and we are a socially vibrant and creative community that delights in finding smarter, healthier ways to do business.

In early June, I will have just returned with a massive infusion of big-picture excitement from the annual Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Conference, held this year in Denver. What to do with all that inspiration? Share it, of course.

Fortunately, our 10% Shift campaign stands on the shoulders of Think Local, Chico!—a two-year-old BALLE network that raises awareness about the enormous economic, social and ecological importance of local independents. Businesses, non-profits and individuals can join us by visiting

We’ll hold energizing rally in mid-June to gather pledges one household at a time. If you’ve got a few hours a week and a big inner flame to be part of a radically lively movement, join our campaign as a volunteer. Find the Think Local, Chico! group on Facebook or send an e-mail to <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,105,110,102,111,64,116,104,105,110,107,108,111,99,97,108,99,104,105,99,111,46,111,114,103,34,62,105,110,102,111,64,116,104,105,110,107,108,111,99,97,108,99,104,105,99,111,46,111,114,103,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

The easiest thing you can do is make the 10% Shift pledge online as soon as we announce its launch, using the Local Calculator developed by our sister networks in New England to track your spending. More of your money will then recirculate in our community, improving parks, schools, streets, relationships and our economy. A civic economics study commissioned by Local First Arizona reveals that public procurement from a local supplier generates “dramatically greater local economic activity” than procurement from a chain business.

What can’t you find locally—affordable, eco-friendly to-go cups for your coffeehouse? Members of Think Local, Chico! are already brewing ideas about cooperative purchasing on items like these. Unique clothes that fit you right? The North State is full of whimsical fashion designers and clothes makers ready to fancy you up with stylish local threads. Foods? Visualize bulk organic spinach and strawberries purchased for college cafeterias and soirees, from local Hmong farmers.

As your wheels are spinnin’ about all of this, remember that a local, living economy is made up of many building blocks including sustainable agriculture, independent retail, green building, zero-waste manufacturing, community capital, renewable energy, independent media, arts and culture, health care and professional services.

One citizen, student, teacher, business owner and city staffer at a time, let’s encourage the largest purchasers in our community to join our 10% Shift campaign. Imagine what a dent that would make in our local economic woes!