Dan Coleman's blog

Foy and Chilton Want You to Buy Local

According to news reports, Mayors Foy and Chilton pledged to do their holiday shopping locally:

"We really feel that it is very important for Orange County residents ... to buy local and to help reinvest the money we spend in our holiday shopping season here in Orange County," Chilton said, just a day after being sworn in as Carrboro's new mayor.

The potential impact, according to the Chamber:

a 1 percent increase in Orange County retail sales, assuming the money would not be spent in another county anyway, would generate nearly $360,000 in extra revenue. That's roughly enough to hire nine new police officers or sheriff's deputies.

Last Saturday, Aaron Nelson took advantage of the holiday parade to hand out "Buy Local" decals to a captive, holiday-primed audience.

The benefits of shopping locally are pretty clear, as are the additional benefits of supporting locally-owned businesses.

Kudos to Chilton, Foy, and Nelson for taking advantage of the holiday season to promote this awareness.

Local currencies foster interdependency

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday December 03, 2005

There is a strange paradox in American culture. On the one hand, we are taught to view ourselves through the lens of individualism, extolling the self-made "man," and looking out for number one. On the other hand, there has rarely been a society more characterized by the utter economic dependency of its citizens than ours.

We depend on distant, faceless corporations for the energy to warm our homes, cook our food and power our vehicles. We depend on them for our entertainment and our communication, our clothing, tools and materials, and for many aspects of our health care.

Historically, few humans have ever been independent in a true sense. Nor have we had the kind of dependency that characterizes modern society. Rather, we have been interdependent, denizens of self-reliant communities where what one could not do for oneself could be accomplished by a tribe, extended family, community or village.

Artist Selected for Downtown Project

According to the N&O:

A designer with a striking, modern style will play a pivotal role in designing parts of downtown Chapel Hill's brick-laden landscape.

Mikyoung Kim will be the lead artist shaping the look of an estimated $75 million effort to transform two town-owned parking areas into a mix of condos, shops and open space.

Based in the Boston area, Kim has left her mark over the country and even abroad.

She has completed a huge canal project in Seoul, South Korea, helped redesign a federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark., and worked on projects in a Boston wharf district, among many other projects.

Some of her most prominent work involves colorful fiber-optic lighting and illuminated streams of water. She describes it as "orchestrating an experience."

This seems like very big news for the town. Kim sounds like an artist whose work could help elevate downtown Chapel Hill in the region, especially given the potential of UNC's coming Arts Common.

Check out Kim's work here.

Investing in cooperative retail

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday November 19, 2005

Last summer, as the threat loomed of a Wal-Mart just south of the Chatham County line, there was much talk of how to stop the retail giant from moving in and sucking the life-blood out of local business. Less attention was paid to strengthening our home grown retail sector to create an economic base that might withstand such an onslaught.

As the Wal-Mart style big box has spread, the business districts of small town America have been hard hit, losing their historic retail anchors and leaving residents to drive out to a freeway interchange for the nearest strip mall.

In 2001, Powell, Wyoming was in trouble when the Stage store, the latest owner of the downtown department store that had operated for generations, decided to pull out.

Citizens of Powell formed a corporation and began selling stock to open their own store. Some 800 investors bought shares, and in the summer of 2002 the Mercantile opened in a 7,500-square-foot space downtown that once housed a portion of the Stage store.

Cumulative voting for Orange County?

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday November 05, 2005

Back in March, Moses Carey articulated an accurate argument against district representation for the County Commissioners.

"Any model that promotes or encourages parochialism will be dysfunctional in this county," Carey said. "Problems don't stop at district lines. Water flows across district lines; economic development doesn't occur all in one district. Narrowing the focus and encouraging people to care only about what happens within the lines of their district is just the opposite of what we need to be encouraging elected officials to do, which is to think more broadly and make decisions that are more broadly based."

But, it turns out that Carey was not arguing against districts per se. He was arguing for a system of districts in which the candidates must live within a district but would be elected by the entire county.

This solution, not surprisingly, does not satisfy residents of the rural sections of the county who feel that the current at-large system does not provide them with adequate representation.



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