Go Local Tacoma: Still fighting for local businesses

By Ron Swarner on November 6, 2012


What do they want?

Answer: A strong economy.

When do they want it?

Answer: Now.

That was the message Go Local Tacoma posted on its Facebook Oct. 25 to shout out its annual membership meeting happening the same night at Stonegate Pizza.  

Gathered on the top floor of the South Tacoma Way house of rum, the membership cheered inspirational speeches, passed out business cards, learned about future projects and chowed on free pizza. Go Local President Derrick Rhayn and Vice-President Patricia Lecy-Davis could have sold the Weekly Volcano a car that night. Inspirational, to say the least.

Afterward, the Volcano hurled a few questions at Rhayn.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Explain your vision for bringing all business organizations together quarterly.

DERRICK RHAYN: One of the overarching goals of Go Local is to create a growing, region wide living network that is comprised of locally owned, independent businesses. This network will source from itself - supply chain will be local - will be used to mine information that can be used for policy and advocacy efforts, such as cultivate network intelligence, and will help create a more resilient local economy - more money stays in the local economy when money is spent at locally owned businesses, and hence more jobs are created and sustained. Go Local's quarterly network nights will assist us in facilitating business to business connections throughout the network by giving locally owned independent businesses the opportunity to come together, share their needs and explain what they have to offer the network. As we build a culture of seeking local first, we envision these network nights as ways of drawing more businesses into our network, connecting these businesses to other businesses, and incorporating the work of other small business support efforts that exist in the region to the network. The result will be a living network that spurs innovation, fosters entrepreneurship, and is resilient.

VOLCANO: What will be Go Local's number one goal be for 2013?

RHAYN: Our number one goal is to incorporate volunteers and members into our network structure so we can grow. This means getting people connected to our various committees that are focused on community banking, local food, entrepreneurial training, and independent media. It also means empowering our network with the vision to enfold others with an interest in a strong local economy into what we are doing.

VOLCANO: At the meeting, Patricia Lecy-Davis said the following: "Going from who you know to what you know about who you know." What exactly does she mean?

RHAYN: Go Local uses a strategy called network weaving to facilitate connections between the various nodes - members - in our network. Network weaving is the practice of increasing connectivity among nodes in such a way that the network becomes more intelligent, is able to innovate, sees increased collaboration, and can be used to identify gaps and unique niches that drive entrepreneurship. One of the primary ways to do this is to increase the amount of information that various members of the network know about each other so that connections are facilitated independently. In other words, this is decentralized leadership and focuses on nurturing a culture of reciprocity and collaboration, as opposed to competition. The underlying premise of the local living economy movement is that strong, connected local economies work more effectively because they are community centric, interdependent, and are based on relationships.  The more we know about others in the network, the stronger the possibility of fostering increased connections. In other words, instead of having a dog-eat-dog economic climate, we say, "How can we all be successful together?" Therefore, the more we know about each other, the better the chance we have to all be successful.

VOLCANO: What is the best way for the community to start "going local"?

RHAYN: The easiest thing to do is to ask yourself a simple question before every purchase: "Can I get this from a local independent business?" If the answer is yes, you have an opportunity to shift your spending habits and strengthen the local economy. Making the mental shift is the best thing anyone can do.

Go Local Tacoma will kick off its annual Shift Your Shopping holiday campaign Friday, Nov. 16, which runs up to Christmas Eve. The campaign, of course, urges the South Sound to shop local during the holiday season. Keep an eye on TacomaShiftHappens.com for launch parties and shopping events.

To join Go Local Tacoma, visit golocaltacoma.com.