Mobs, BerkShares and Lemonade

I have written many times how I believe in supporting local businesses whenever possible. I usually avoid chain restaurants at all cost and would never set foot inside a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club to save my life. I’ve tried to promote local businesses on this site and I will continue to do so. In that vein I have a Facebook page I want you to check out. It is called, “Youngstown Cash Mob.” The page is the idea of one of our best area poets, Karen Schubert. Karen explains the idea like this, “The idea of a ‘cash mob’ was born in Cleveland. It works like this: members show up to a predetermined local business on a prearranged day and spend some money. This boosts our economy, since money spent on locally owned businesses stays in our community. It also lets us express our appreciation for them and for their hanging on in these challenging times.”

You can get on the site and nominate what area business you think the YCM (I’ll use initials to shorten it and hope Karen doesn’t mind) should patronize. After that places will be voted on and a day set up for those in YCM to go and thank the business by spending cash to support them. I’ve talked about how the Elecpencil is a victim in the War on Poverty. Truth is I have been held hostage in that war for many years now and no one has paid the ransom to deliver me from the poverty dungeon. If even I can make a purchase from some deserved “mom and pop” area businesses I think you can too. In the past Youngstown had the bad stigma of being a mob town, we can move in the right direction now with a new kind of mob, the “Youngstown Cash Mob.” Check out the site here.

I have been an admirer of the work that the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed has been doing to build community in our Mahoning Valley. They are a service exchange network that offers a needed service in these economically struggling times. To see what they are all about click here. The founder of the TimeBank Mahoning Watershed, Tony Budak has been talking for a few years now about the idea of establishing a local currency that could be used exclusively at local run businesses. It is no pie in the sky idea as it goes back to the 1800’s with German credit unions. The Berkshire region of Massachusetts has been issuing such currency called, BerkShares since 2006. Four hundred businesses in the Berksire region have signed on to use the currency. Over 2.7 million BerkShares have been circulated to date. See more about BerkShares here. Who knows the Cash Mob today and Youngshares tomorrow.

I really like people coming together in organizations like YCM, Occupy Youngstown, Occupy Warren or the TimeBank etc. to better the community. The people really do have the power and it is about damn time we get together and use that power. Any time you do something no matter how small to fight back against this greedy economic system you are making a better future for the next generation. I believe each and every small act to fight back is a revolutionary act. If enough people do such small acts it will all add up to a transforming change from the sum of its parts.

I’ve just learned about a way every day people are using the power of the internet to fight back against injustice. It is so easy to do even a fourth grade class can be a David who slays a Goliath! See what I’m talking about here.

My father was in business for himself for about 50 years and recently retired at age 82. I guess that is where I get my love of mom and pop local businesses. My dad’s number one rule was take care of your customers. I am getting tired of the way many corporations have no respect for their customers and think they can pull the wool over our eyes. I tend to drink tea everyday and always have a pitcher of iced tea in the fridge. Lately, I’ve been buying Minute Maid lite lemonade that comes in a half gallon (64 fluid oz.) waxed cardboard container. It is very good lemonade and only 15 calories for an 8oz glass. I like to pour a few ounces of it into my glass of iced tea. The other day while in the grocery store I picked up a carton. I then noticed behind the carton was more of the lemonade in a new container. The container was a plastic carafe now containing only 59 fluid oz. This is something I’m seeing more and more and I call it, same price less product. The Elecpencil’s grocery budget is not just about finances; it’s also about how far the products go. Remember the saying, caveat emptor or let the buyer beware. Stay alert while shopping and read the labels and don’t let this stealth package downsizing get the best of you.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered something that is good for lowering your blood pressure and opening up your arteries. It’s called fighting back and not taking any more bullshit! Check it out and you’ll see I’m right then don’t be divided, add your voice to mine and we will multiply until we are all equilateral.

A recipe for change.

Ron Pope: A Drop in the Ocean

I’m Yours

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. ~ James Baldwin



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7 responses to “Mobs, BerkShares and Lemonade

  1. Eric P. O'Neil

    Thanks for reminding us how important it is to support the little guy and small businesses. Most of us could do better. Also, everything we do does’t have to be a financial transaction..

  2. Anonymous

    After the march, the “We Love Youngstown” groups dined at locally owned restaurants in Youngstown. These included Casa Ramirez Mexican Restaurant on Mahoning Avenue, Molly’s on Steel Street, Foxy’s on North Meridian, and Strikers on Mahoning.

  3. elecpencil

    Eric thanks for the comment. I think you have a very interesting point. Wouldn’t it be great to voluntarily plow out parking lots of businesses in your neighborhood etc.?

    Anonymous ~ Thanks for the comment. I love hearing that supporting local restaurants were part of the march! I have written in the past about enjoying meals at Casa Ramierz and Mollys and I’ve taken out great pizza from Strikers. I’ll have to check out Foxy’s and suggestions of what to order?

  4. Awesome article Eric. I love what these folks are doing in Youngstown. Portland has the same kind of community, “A single Tweet rallied a community to save an independent bookstore from the economic downturn.” I would be interested to know if the cash mob is using cash for purchases or plastic cards (either debit or credit…is it a bank card product or actual cash). If it’s real paper cash, perhaps they should look at at creating a local currency for the area, like Berkshares. Working with a local credit union and keeping cash circulating with local banks, not the big nationwide ones, is also super helpful for the local economy.

  5. elecpencil

    Thanks Carl. It’s Jim or Mr. E actually. Cash mob will be using cash. Glad to hear Portland is a progressive community and I hope the Youngstown area is heading that way.

  6. elecpencil

    Mike! Thanks so much I didn’t realize it vanished. I need all the computer tech help I can get. Thanks again.

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