Local Is Relative

I was sitting at my desk one quiet afternoon, working on some lettering, when my phone (and alarmingly, computer, simultaneously—I haven’t figured out all these new i-thingies yet) rang. It was a farmer calling from Israel, not generally the type of call I receive on a Tuesday afternoon. He had seen my drawings in the New Farmer’s Almanac and wanted me to draw the logo for his new enterprise: setting up urban farms in people’s backyards, empowering them to grow their own food. He was full of infectious enthusiasm and inspiration for this re-branding project (he’s transitioning from running a CSA and educational farm outside the city), and I was more than happy to take him on as a client.

Vegetable GardenerLittle did I expect when I started Wheatberry that I’d be working with national (Farm Beginnings Collaborative) and international clients. My goal was, and always will be, to help my community. There are so many great endeavors happening right here in Maine that I have been eager to lend visibility.

Emphasizing “local” is a big thing in businesses these days, and when it’s a genuine ethic, this is a fantastic thing. In the food industry, holding up “local” as a value had better mean the product is coming from nearby farms. When you purchase a home-made craft by a local artisan, chances are you’re putting your money in the very hands that created the object you’re buying. I’m learning, though, being in this business-to-business industry, that maintaining an emphasis on “community” and “local” can be a relative concept. By helping organizations like the Farm Beginnings Collaborative and individuals like The Vegetable Gardener (my Israeli farmer friend), I am making them visible and assisting them in making reverberations in their communities. I, in turn, get to be a participant in a larger community of caring and conscientious global citizens. It’s a fun paradox. I get to help local causes all around the world, and while I like being able to bump into my neighbor-clients and hear how their businesses are doing, partaking in a global effort of neighborliness feels pretty good, too.

Postscript: It was particularly redeeming when I wrapped up the project with The Vegetable Farmer and he had this to say:

“I really, really like it. It touches my heart. Its more than a logo. Its an accurate portrait and portrayal. I almost feel like its something of a quick sketch biography. Thank you.”

My pleasure. Truly.


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