A local revolution has come to the local revolution in the form of the newly rejuvenated leadership at both Somerville AND Cambridge Local First organizations. In 2012, Somerville Local First welcomed new Executive Director Kat Taylor Rutkin to the fold, while Cambridge Local First brought on Jaclyn Sinay.  And what an impact they have already made! Collaboration abounds, as they emphasize the fluidity of the borders between Somerville and Cambridge. They have hosted tables together at internship fairs and community events, and created the first collaborative Local Thirst in February at the East Coast Grill in Inman Square.  It was at the latter where we were able to meet up with these wonder women and grab a few words of wisdom, including some thoughts on what they are most excited for in 2013.

On the cross-border collaboration

What are you most excited about when you think of Cambridge and Somerville Local First working together?

Kat: “I’m excited to look at the things that Cambridge Local First is doing that we should be doing. There is so much happening around business development in Cambridge. I would like to look at their programming and bring it to the ‘Ville.”

Jaclyn: “We have done so much and there is still so much more we can tap into. I would like to work more with our artist community, as Somerville Local First has been able to do. They have also tapped into residents and begun to work with youth and families. There is a lot we can learn from each other.”

Both women spoke about the fluidity of the border – in many places you don’t even know if you are in Somerville or Cambridge.  As Jaclyn notes, “many of the Somerville business owners are Cambridge residents, and many Cambridge business owners are Somerville residents.” And Kat mentions how easy it is to collaborate because of the shared border. “I’m always looking for a way to grow without spending un-needed resources.” The Local Thirst, for example was an easy way to grow across the border without spending resources. Jaclyn reserved the bar at the East Coast Grill, assuming that 10-12 people would show up.  40 people later, and the ladies of Local First realized that there was a need – and it was an easy one to fill!

What’s next for Cambridge Local First?

Jaclyn envisions an organization that is constantly adding value for its members, with an ever-growing menu of services for local business owners.  She would also like to create an annual event that will tie the community in more closely with its businesses.  Residents can and should be more involved in growing the organization and Jaclyn intends to ask community members what they need from CLF to participate more frequently in the movement.  Also on Jaclyn’s hefty to-do list for 2013 is to figure out a way to engage even more businesses in Cambridge Local First, keeping in mind that small local business owners are very busy people.  Check out the Cambridge Local First website for more information on their initiatives and events.

And What About Somerville Local First?

Kat has already created a series of new events for Somerville, including the Local is for Lovers marketplace, and the Women’s Chapter.  These are two of the primary pieces of the SLF vision for 2013.  In addition to these new programs, she is excited to begin a robust fundraising season, where she can push funders to put more money into the local movement.  She has brought on two amazing new interns from Tufts University, and is interested in creating a taylored message for students to push the local movement to the thousands of university students in Greater Boston. Check out the Somerville Local First website for a full listing of programs and events.

On each other

According to Kat, Jaclyn has “an amazing energy and is cool to work with.”  It’s easy to continue on the collaborative streak when they are both working toward the same goal.  Jaclyn agrees. “It was as easy as reaching out to Kat and saying ‘let’s do it!'” And thus a great new partnership has emerged.  Bridging the consumer border between Cambridge and Somerville is a major step forward in building an even stronger local movement.

On the Movement

As the folks at Somerville Local First tout, local is for lovers, and it is certainly not going away.  Both Somerville and Cambridge Local First have the primary goal of finding a way for residents and community members to truly understand what local first stands for and to realize tangible ways that they can build local, sustainable economies.  Take it from Kat: “I want my son to grow up in a community where he knows the names of the vendors at the local stores.” And Jaclyn agrees: “Being a resident of the area for 9 years has allowed me to meet lots of local business owners – and to understand how important that is to building community.” It’s not just about business – it’s about building a vibrant community life as well.

Speaking of the Local is for Lovers event, Somerville Local First and Arts at the Armory have come together again to create a space for local and independent businesses, artists and crafters to sell their wares. The second Local is for Lovers Marketplace will take place from 11am-5pm on Sunday, April 14th at Arts at the Armory (191 Highland Ave, Somerville).  Cambridge and Somerville Local First members are highlighted and received discounted booth prices to join.

Your next purchase – make it local

So before you make your next purchase, look to the Somerville and Cambridge Local First websites and learn the names of the vendors where you will be going.  Help us to build a vibrant community with strong locally-owned businesses.

Contact these movers and shakers to get more involved in the local movement.

Kat Rutkin, Executive Director, Somerville Local First 

Jaclyn Sinay, Executive Director, Cambridge Local First 

Jaclyn (left) and Kat (right) at Local Thirst

Jaclyn (left) and Kat (right) at Local Thirst