I love a pop of color. It really brightens up a space. From dated and drab to bright and fun in just a few days. There is nothing like the big reveal full of overwhelmed tears as the homeowner tries to process their new space while cameras take it all in. In case you can’t tell, I watch a lot of HGTV. It’s one of the few reality type shows that I enjoy. I can easily stream 10 episodes in one sitting. And, I have.
It’s a little more complicated in real life when you have to do all the work yourself. While there is great satisfaction in completing a project with sweat equity, I must admit in the throes of the actual work I’m often hoping a Property Brother will show up and lend me a hand. Still, while there is no “big” reveal, the gradual transformation of a room still brings me great joy.
Back to that pop of color. I’ve long admired local textile designer Erin Flett and her gorgeous line of bright, graphic bags and home textiles. They are all so cheery and bright. I’ve given some of her bags as gifts and bought a few for myself. They always make me happy.
I put my Christmas decorations away last week. I love decorating for the holidays but come January I’m ready to box things up and reclaim my house. It feels cathartic. It’s how I mark the start of the new year. This year it felt especially important. A symbolic wrapping up of a rough year and the hope that the new one will be better although it’s off to a rough start.
While I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, I do pick a word each year on which to focus. I’ve blogged about it before in my post: One Little Word® Memory Keeping Project. This year my word is Breathe. It seems appropriate coming out of 2020 as while things are more hopeful there is still a lot we will all likely need to continue to navigate in the coming months.
This was especially apparent to me when I headed into Portland to pick up a gift for a local business gift exchange. The exchange was organized by Portland Buy Local along with the Knack Factory, Black Owned Maine, and Portland Downtown as a way to support the many businesses impacted by COVID-19. While I already knew that the financial impact on businesses has been devastating, walking downtown and seeing so many closed shops was still disheartening.
Part of the One Little Word project involves setting goals around our word for the upcoming year. For this blog post, I wanted to focus specifically on my goals around helping my local community. Many businesses are on life support. But together I believe we can breathe new life into them.
~ One ~
Order Take Out or Food Delivery. We participated in the Maine Brewers’ Guild virtual Maine Beer Night over the summer. It was my first exposure to CarHop who managed the delivery of the local beers for the event. We don’t live in an easy delivery location but CarHop has opened up new options for us during the pandemic. We quarantined the two weeks leading up to Christmas so that we could safely spend time with family. Towards the end of quarantine we got a little antsy so we ordered take out through CarHop from one of our favorite restaurants. CarHop offers zero contact delivery which worked great. While I am not comfortable with indoor dining during the pandemic, we’ll continue to get food delivered as well as order curbside pickup and other takeout. My goal is to support local restaurants by ordering take out, curbside pickup, or delivery at least once a week.
~ Two ~
Donate to Impactful Non-Profits.Maine Needs is a new non-profit directly supporting Mainers in need during this unique time. The number of Mainers struggling has grown significantly with COVID-19. There are many great non-profits that do amazing work in the state. I like the variety of giving options and direct impact that Maine Needs is having. My favorite donation request is for various kits including: cleaning & toiletry, Covid care, a minute for mom, art therapy, and the mini warmth kit . I love the idea of putting together kits. It would let me purchase items from local sellers to be donated to people in the community. My goal is to create and donate at least twenty five kits to Maine Needs.
~ Three ~
Sign Up for Virtual Classes. A cooking class has been on my bucket list for many years but with all the pandemic restrictions and, prior to that, my persistent procrastination it hasn’t worked out yet. Fortunately, many restaurants and farms offering cooking classes have pivoted and are now offering virtual options. While most of the classes from Salt Water Farm are during the day, which doesn’t work for my schedule, they are hosting a benefit class for Finding Our Voices on a Friday evening in February. Bravo Maine also offers a variety of in person and virtual cooking classes. It looks like 2021 will be my year to finally check this one off my bucket list. My goal is to sign up for at least six virtual classes or online offerings from local businesses.
~ Four ~
Subscribe to my Local Paper. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot. After watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, the messaging around how our information silos are formed and the AI algorithms that continue to divide and push us further away from one another, really stayed with me. Finding accurate, unbiased information and doing the due diligence to really understand all sides to a story are so critical. We need journalism to grow and thrive. My goal is to purchase a digital subscription to my local paper and read it weekly.
~ Five ~
Support Local Music and Theater. I am happy that the Save our Stages Act was included in the latest COVID-19 relief bill but worry that it is not enough to save some of the smaller music and performance venues. We’ve already lost Port City Music Hall where I saw JoJo and Bruce in the USA . For #GivingTuesday, I donated to the Maine Music Alliance and I want to continue to find ways to support our local stages. My goal is to attend at least four shows this year either virtually or in person and to purchase merchandise from local venues.
~ Six ~
Support Local Farms.As restaurants have closed or seen their sales plummet, the farmers who supply them have been impacted as well. We’ve done a farm share for a few years now and plan to sign up for this year’s share as soon as they become available. If you’re looking for a CSA, I highly recommend Bumbleroot Organic Farm. They’re fantastic. There are also ongoing farmers markets and farm stores where you can buy local food directly. My goal is to renew our CSA shares for both food and flowers as well as purchase food locally whenever possible.
~ Seven ~
Support New Endeavors. Many businesses have come up with new business models, changed how they get product to consumers and generally been creative in staying afloat. We participated in a Virtual Wine Dinner early in the pandemic. Our amazing craft brewers were offering curb side pickup almost as soon as COVID-19 hit and we’ve utilized it many times during the pandemic. Restaurants such as The Lost Kitchen started offering a local online market or selling groceries from their eateries. The chef/owner of the Lost Kitchen also has her memoir coming out in April: Finding Freedom. I’ve already pre-ordered it! My goal is to purchase at least six new products offered by local businesses.
~ Eight ~
Shout Out on Social Media. This is something I have always tried to do, but I am definitely upping my game. I like to share posts about products, restaurants and other local businesses that I love on social media. This Christmas I focused on buying local and small as much as possible and found so many great local artisans. I also posted reviews for local businesses on Facebook. My goal is to post on social media at least once a week about a local business or product that I love.
~ Nine ~
Buy Local. When I need a book, video game or other media, I always check out Bull Moose or Print: A Bookstore first. Before I click buy on amazon or other large online retailers, I do research first around whether it’s something I can get locally instead. I’m often surprised to learned what local options are available. For example, I want to send print birthday cards to my friends and family this year. It’s always fun to get mail and I think we could all use a smile after the last year. After some research, I discovered that there are some great local card companies such as Borealis Press and other local artists who have cards available too such as Gray Day Studio. My goal is to purchase at least twenty birthday cards that are made locally.
~ Ten ~
Try Something New. While I’ve been trying to support the local businesses I know and love, there are so many I don’t know about that are struggling too. I’m thinking of reaching out for recommendations on Nextdoor or my neighborhood Facebook group to get suggestions for favorite local businesses and products. I’ve also been listening to the Makers of Maine podcast and have already discovered some new artisans creating some fun things. Learning about new Maine based businesses is one of my favorite things. My goal is to find at least ten new local businesses to purchase from this year.
~ Eleven ~
Buy Gift Cards. I bought a few gift cards at the beginning of the pandemic but haven’t purchased any recently. I’m not a huge Gift Card person although I know this comes up all the time as a way to help local businesses. I’ve just never warmed up to the idea. I think it is because I really enjoy picking out gifts for friends and family. The Gift Card route seems impersonal. It’s time to change that up. I can buy gifts cards for my family that we can use later, as well as pick up a few to send to friends as a surprise. If it helps local businesses, I can get past my bias. My goal is to buy at least six gift cards this year.
~ Twelve ~
Triple the Impact.Cooking for Community is another new organization that came about to fill a need during the pandemic. This one is a triple win. It helps struggling restaurants who prepare healthy meals using as much locally sourced food as possible to donate to people in need. We donated to similar causes early during the pandemic such as Feeding America and Feeding the Frontline but I really love how Cooking for Community is helping multiple Maine communities in need with one wonderful idea. My goal is to support endeavors like Cooking for Community through donations or volunteering my time.
Of course there are many other ways to support our local communities during this pandemic. I know that not everyone is in a position to be able to give money right now. So many of our neighbors are struggling. So far, my family is doing okay and I want to do more to help our community. It’s time to start taking action on these goals.
Here’s to supporting local in 2021 and always.
Do you have a unique way that you’ve supporting your local community during the pandemic? Please share! I’d love to learn more ways I can help.
I drink wine, craft beer, especially sours, and the occasional margarita but otherwise liqueur or cocktails are a rarity for me although my husband hasn’t given up hope that I’ll expand my repertoire. When we met, my go to alcoholic drink was Miller Lite. It was almost a deal breaker for him, but fortunately he was able to look past that particular character flaw.
After years of effort and the consistent refrain of “here try this”, my go to beer is now Allagash White and we often enjoy local craft sours together. While he’s pleased with my progress, his work is not done. He’s still nudging me towards porters, stouts and the real stretch drink experience for me: cocktails.
Fortunately, he has some support in this endeavor. Vena’s Fizz House in Portland is a wonderful, inventive cocktail bar. My first experience tasting bitters was at Vena’s during a Micro Maine Trolley Tour. Before that visit, I would have said definitively that I don’t like bitters. But, now I know that statement is untrue. Bitters done right can really elevate a cocktail.
Somewhere in our collection of home videos there is one of me sewing my newborn daughter’s first ever Halloween costume. I vaguely remember looking up as my husband provided voice over commentary while moving the camera closer. I was engrossed in lining up the black and yellow fleece stripes and while they were not complicated to stitch together, my frustration level was rising. I’m fairly certain the distinguishing feature of that long lost video is me swearing and attempting to muster a faint smile so my daughter would not think her mother unhappy with the task. But, sadly, I was.
Although, I persevered and must say it did turn out to be one adorable little bee costume which I still have. Maybe my future grandchildren will wear it again someday and I won’t actually have to sew something new for them.