First, I want to express how excited I am to finally have a president coming into the White House that the rest of the world can respect. In these turbulent times, we as Americans really need to work on our international perception and I think that Obama is the man who can make that happen. I also want to remind everyone that one man is not going to make all of our problems go away, we need to pull together as Americans and start working toward a brighter future. We can't sit on our asses and expect someone to do it for us. One of my favorite things about Obama is his emphasis on community service. Building strong communities will ultimately result in a stronger country. There is no reason that anyone in this country shouldn't be volunteering at least a little of their time working on community building activies whether they are organized or not. Take some time out and make the world a more beautiful place, a place where you want to live. Imagine what would happen if every American spent one hour a week volunteering in their communities, that would be over 15 billion hours spent making this country a better place.
In addition to community service, I really think that we as a people need to spend a little more time thinking about how and where we spend our money. Spending our money in local small businesses instead of national chains keeps more of our money in our communities, which helps to build stronger communities. One of my New Years Resolutions for the past few years is to buy more locally. Every year, a larger percentage of my purchases come from local retailers which means more of my money is staying in my community. Last Christmas Philip and I managed to buy 100% of our Chrismas gifts from local small businesses, a first for us. This summer 95% of our produce came from the farmers' market which was a substantial improvement on previous years.
Finally, buy American or sweatshop-free whenever possible. Buying American supports American communities and American jobs and buying sweatshop-free protects foreign workers from being exploited just so we can have cheap crap. In the current environment of big box retailers and everything $1 stores it can be a little harder to make responible decisions, both monetarily and in regards to availability, but there are options out there if you just look. This is definately the thing that I struggle with the most. In the last year most of my shoe and clothing purchases have been sweatshop-free, but I still have trouble finding things like jeans and bras that aren't from big box stores and aren't made in third world countries.