You'll note that Michael H. Shuman's The Small-Mart Revolution sits high atop our first "new and recommended" list. Its subtitle is "How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition," but it is far from a "business" book.
I wanted to read this from the first moment I heard about it, and then the Jeffersonville Main Street organization sponsored a smart growth conference and whaddayaknow? Mike Shuman came to lead a breakout session.
Let me just say that everyone should read it. It is the most hopeful communitarian book I've read in years. While it strongly reinforces the axiom that "shopping is a political act," it more accurately addresses the immorality of the way we consume without calling consumers immoral. Shuman doesn't condemn us for shopping at big-box stores. He doesn't expect us to boycott Wal-Mart. But he does offer us compelling reasons to buy local first.
Ann, reading another book altogether last night (wait until you hear about this one...hint: initials B.K.), rediscovered Shuman's reported statistic that on average, the food we eat is transported 1,500 miles - gobbling up a heckuva lot of petroleum to do so.
On the public policy front, Shuman calls for a level playing field for local businesses and makes a convincing argument that nurturing locals pays off for everyone. When comparing business types, he uses the analogies of LOIS and TINA. TINA is the economic development "grail," where far-off corporate interests are coddled and recruited on the basis that "There Is No Alternative (TINA)." He's much more interested in "Locally Owned-Import Subsituting (LOIS)" businesses.
Filled with facts that will make you think. You might just help save the world.
The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael Shuman
ISBN 9781576753866, 2006 Berrett-Koehler (Hardcover) $24
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