Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Love the Place You’re In

By Dennis Hinkamp

Guidelines to Living Local.
by Dennis Hinkamp

The Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Love the One You’re With” is, of course, really an ode to infidelity and casual sex shallowly buried beneath the quartet’s sweet-sounding harmonies. I think this has led, in a less hippie way, to the local-everything movement.

I’d like to suggest that we roll all that buy local, eat local, artisan, sustainable, hand-built, crafted, carbon neutral blah, blah, blah into the one all purpose catch phrase “Live Local.”

I admit that coffee, bananas and wine are the main food groups that keep me from being a true, local-only eater. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t at least buy more of the stuff locally rather than pushing the magic Internet button for everything. It’s hard because I really don’t enjoy the retail experience that includes screaming babies, chaotic parking lots and mordant checker-outers. On occasion, I use the self-checkouts at certain stores to limit my interaction.

So, if you concede that we all fall short of perfection but can still strive for something surpassing mediocrity, these are some guidelines to living local.

Defend the brand. I know it is sort of marketing speak, but it’s true. By constantly complaining about the place you live, all you do is make the place you live worse. The prices of homes go down which makes tax revenue go down, schools get worse and pretty soon you are like the decaying Roman Empire. Or perhaps Detroit. You may want to take the stance that this place is so cool you don’t want people to find out about it. That might have worked before the Internet.

Believing it makes it real. We seem to fall for all sorts of pop psychology and daily affirmations for parenting and not assaulting our coworkers, so why not apply this to the place you live? You know where the best place to eat is? Your house in your town. You don’t have to be the greatest cook, you just have to be the best one in your kitchen. Take a tip from your dog; every meal is a blessing.

Does Salt Lake City count? I live in Logan. I used to go to Salt Lake once a week for many years to play sports, perform in comedy clubs and haunt the aisles of home improvement stores. Now that we seem to have all that stuff in Logan, I would no longer say that Salt Lake City counts as local. Eighty miles is a world away.

Who are the people in these photos? One of the great ways to ruin the place you live is to use stock photography. Every device you own now has a camera in it, so go out and take some real photos of real people where you live, so you aren’t embarrassed when the same perfect photogenic person shows up for a brochure about both Ames, Iowa, and Logan, Utah. You support your local Farmer’s market; support your local photographers equally.

When I’m up at 6 a.m. to make it to the airport in Salt Lake City, or I get into said airport at 10 p.m. and face another 90 minutes of driving to get home, I wish my town were a little more connected, but it is not enough to make me want to live elsewhere. Not that, nor the mythical “better restaurants,” Costco or Trader Joe’s. I remain mainly monogamous to Logan.

Sing us out, CSN&Y … “So if you can’t live in the place you love, love the place you’re in.”

Dennis Hinkamp is neither paid by or is associated in any way with the Cache Chamber of Commerce.

This article was originally published on August 1, 2014.