LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: CHECKING IN AT THE HALFWAY POINT ON 2014 RESOLUTIONS

Jun 3 • FEATURE MAIN, Live Local, NEWS & VIEWSNo Comments on LIVE LOCAL, LIVE SMALL: CHECKING IN AT THE HALFWAY POINT ON 2014 RESOLUTIONS

Much like the New Year’s resolution list printed in the first Live Local column of the year, it has become tradition to check in at the halfway point, too. I want to update readers on how things are coming along with my resolutions. Here is a quick reminder of what I hoped to accomplish in 2014:

film protest

From the Wilmington film rally and protest against changes to the NC film incentives, held three weeks ago in downtown Wilmington. Photo by Bryan Moss

1. Pay off one more credit card and don’t charge anything else on a card.

2. Finish the second-floor apartment at the bookstore, thereby putting several tradesmen to work. 

3. Start shopping again.

4. Bring national attention to the Live Local movement.

5. Start an economics reading and discussion group.

6. Support film incentives any way I know how. It’s a big priority for me this year; in fact, I hope it is for everyone who lives in NC.

7. Get back to charitable giving and donating.

8. Explore Wilmington’s expanding transit options.

To be honest, I think I wanted to look back at this to see if I am making any progress or just treading water.  Lately I feel like things have taken a swift tilt off the normal axis in my life. But the Live Local journey is one I find I can continue to feel rooted and grounded in. 

So with my first resolution—pay off one or more credit card and don’t charge anything else on a card—I have to say I did really well with the latter part on either of my last two credit cards. Well, that is until mid-May. Then things happened, and I had to charge some stuff for the bookstore and, well, here we are. Still, I’m working on it. I hope to get some major headway soon.

Things are moving along with the second floor apartment at the bookstore and the employing of local trades people.  This excites me. It is far from move-in ready, but there are walls up in half of it, the HVAC has been installed (thank you, Tim’s), the electrician (Bill Ladd) has been busy, and Joey over at Steven’s Hardware has endured a lengthy conversation about getting kitchen cabinets ordered. Soon, the plumber (Bart Duarte) will make his magic happen. So, I am definitely moving along and spending money locally on this front. Though the number of boxes that migrated downstairs to make this possible seems more than overwhelming to look at (sigh). One step forward, two steps back, right?

The shopping thing hasn’t really spread beyond groceries and the necessities. However, I have gone shopping for Daddy, a lot. New sheets and loungewear from Tomlinson’s have headed the list, as well as a tremendous amount of takeout food from The Scoop, Slice of Life and Kyoto Asian Grille. Yet, shopping for me or my household is still on hold, with high hopes for the second half of the year. Stay tuned.

To be quite blunt, I’ve not really made plans about generating national attention for the Live Local movement. I guess I need to get more clear about what this goal actually looks like, because I obviously am making no headway.

And speaking of no-starters, I hoped to see my plans for the economics reading and discussion group start in April, around tax time. It seemed like economics would be on people’s minds then. Another fail—maybe a “not yet” would be more positive.

To be fair, though, the film incentives have been occupying a lot of my time—as it should be. I have attended and spoken at the local rallies; I interact with film crews on a daily basis through their ongoing patronage at the bookstore; I have friends and family that work in the industry. I hope the incentives are top priority in other people’s lives, too.

Actually, by the time this is in print, I likely will be in Raleigh as part of the delegation to lobby on behalf of the film incentives and a better plan than the one Governor McCrory proposed last week. The film industry is just too important to lose at a time when we don’t have anything on the horizon offering anywhere near the same ongoing economic investment in our area. Please, if you haven’t contacted your representatives in the NC General Assembly or the governor, take a moment and do so by going to www.ncleg.net. 

On the charitable-giving front, I am happy to see progress. I am not back to the level I would like, but I will have a couple of receipts by the end of the year. I have two commitments that I was unable to honor in 2013, which I hope to be able to by the end of the year. I am grateful to see some progress. 

Also, I have done fairly well with exploring our transit options. Regular readers know I took a cross-country train trip in March. It was part of testing out how the thruway connector service with Greyhound and Amtrak worked. I also wanted to see how long-distance train travel compared to air travel. For me train travel won, hands down: no TSA-screening misery, plenty of room to spread out, privacy, food, and I got lots of work done! It was great.

I am still planning to take a bus to the beach—or at least attempt to do so. Hopefully, I will have a report on that experience soon. Though, as a preliminary, I used the calculator on WAVE Transit’s website to estimate how much money I would save if I took the bus for my commute. According to them, it would cost me an additional $536.26 annually to take the bus to work.  Since I walk many days, I am not the norm, but it just seems like maybe things are a little skewed if I work two blocks from where the buses transfer downtown. It would be cost prohibitive for me to use public transit—something to think about.

So through self-grading, I would give myself about a 40 percent, which is not great for almost halfway through the year. Though, the film incentives are so wide-reaching and important, I think focusing on them is essential for our state: We all will feel the pinch if we lose them. 

Perhaps the message hidden between the lines is: Keep trying and I will. I think seeing progress on the credit-card front has been huge. Getting two paid off felt like the vice around my head loosened. Getting these last two out of my life will be remarkable—absolutely remarkable! It would be the first time in my adult life I wouldn’t be carrying debt.

What I didn’t realize when I put together this list in January was that, together, they do represent a cohesive approach to community finance: personal debt, personal spending, investments in housing and the commercial sector, education, legislation, philanthropy, and public transit. These things all need to work together to truly make local economic change happen. A citizenry must be educated to lobby their leaders for change. The connections that can be built through public transit could be transformative, but it has to be functional and affordable before that can happen. Rather than looking above for change, we must make it happen on our own. 

The year is not yet over; I still have time to continue making progress! Until then, please, contact our state representatives about keeping our film incentives in tact. And shop local. The job you save might be your own!

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