Providing tools and support to community members to create local initiatives that build local capacity and leadership, increase environmental sustainability, and foster greater livability and vitality.

Buy Local First

    The best way to get your local economy booming is to encourage people to spend their money at locally owned, independent businesses before opting for big-box or chain stores.

    garden shop storefrontYou can help raise awareness about the benefits of buying local by developing Local Buying Guides or coupon books that identify independent local businesses and offer incentives for people to patronize them. New Dream has developed local buying guides for several U.S. cities, including Washington, DC; Wolfeboro, NH; Brooklyn, NY; Meadville, PA; and Nashville, TN. See Green Maps for similar guides elsewhere in the country.

    To start a "local first" campaign or an independent business alliance, check out the resources available at BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) and AMIBA (American Independent Business Alliance). If you don't have the resources to start your own independent group, you can tap into the affiliate programs that these two organizations offer.

    Many communities are also adopting local currencies—like BerkShares in the Berkshires region and Ithaca Hours in New York—that can be spent only at participating local businesses, helping to keep the transaction local. A similar approach is Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), also known as LETSystems, which enable members to exchange goods and services locally by using the “currency” of credit.

    See our Sharing section for other creative ways to get what you need locally.