|By G. Michael Dobbs|
It's no secret that this is going to be a hard Christmas for many people across the country and in our own region. The demand, for instance, for toys through the Children's Giving Tree program is up and not all of the 44,732 requests will be filled.
While unemployment here may not be as bad as other parts of the nation, if you're without a job the statistics aren't much comfort to you.
Those of us who do have work need to take steps to help bolster our economy here in the Pioneer Valley. To that end there is a national organization with a local chapter we should all know about.
Pioneer Valley Local First is part of the national Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and the local members includes businesses ranging from small shops to banks to the Big Y.
On the group's Web site (www.pvlocalfirst.org), a group of reasons is listed explaining the advantages of keeping your dollars local. Here are some of those reasons:
"When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as our regions tax base.
"Non Profits often receive greater support from local business owners, sometimes as much as 350% more money, than they do from non-locally owned businesses.
"Local businesses make more local purchases requiring less transportation and usually set up shop in town centers rather than on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss, resource depletion and pollution.
"Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally.
"Local businesses in city and town centers require comparatively little infrastructure investments and make more efficient use of public services."
Now I know our shopping choices are dictated by personal budgets and by the merchandise categories that haven't been decimated by chain stores. We do have local choices, though, and we should to try to spend our money with them not only this holiday season, but also all year-round.
Here's a suggestion: when you're assembling a shopping list, think about breaking it down among local merchants. Will that take a little more time? Perhaps. But I think the outcome is worth it.
We have a new cat. I didn't want a new cat. I was quite happy with the five felines who currently allow the two of us and Lucky the Wonder Bichon to live with them.
But a longhaired black cat took up residence on our back porch obviously by his behavior he was a pet that had been abandoned. During the cold snap a couple of weeks ago we took pity on him and let him in the house.
He didn't mind.
But he was quite sick and our vet recommended we put him down. So we did.
Then another cat came along whom we dubbed "DG," short for "doppelganger," the German word for double or look-alike. This cat closely resembled one of our other charges.
We took him to the vet to have his abscessed paw fixed, and to have him de-wormed, treated for ear mites, and neutered. He's doing fine and seems quite appreciative.
He's a nice addition.
But I don't want another. I want people to act responsibly. I want them to do the right thing - get their animals spayed or neutered. If they have to give up a pet, don't just toss it out. Bring it to a shelter. Show a shred of humanity.
Sorry, but my wife and I can't afford to pay any more for someone else's lack of caring.
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.
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