Carrisa, I owe you a steak.
In case you're not in Tulsa and you have no idea what in the world this could mean, we're under attack on this Thursday night by yet another severe ice storm. The freezing rain that has been falling for the past several hours has made roads treacherous. Our trees are cracking, some of our power lines are snapping and we're all having 'Nam-like flashbacks to the 2007 ice storm that plunged the people of this city into darkness and cold for as long as two weeks.
Travel is, at best, discouraged. Therefore, I don't exactly feel comfortable advocating that everyone drive all over the place trying to find stuff to do this weekend. Instead, it might be best to stay in, put your feet up and roast something dead or sugary (or both?) in the fireplace. You know, get back to your roots. And play some Yahtzee. It'll be fun.
I know at least a few Tulsa nonprofit organizations had big fundraisers scheduled for this weekend. Plus, there's the huge Tulsa Home & Garden Show happening at Expo Square Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you drive something like this, be my guest to take a chance and try to make it out to these events.
The nonprofits that had events planned this weekend won't be the only ones disappointed. Ice storms really pack a punch for our small businesses here in town, too. If the roads are passable and you won't be putting yourself or someone else in harm's way by venturing out a bit, head for your nearest locally-owned eat spot and chow down. That's a good plan anytime, actually, whether the roads are icy or not.
(Here's the part where I digress. But, hey, it's good stuff, and you're looking for something to do anyway.)
You might not think so, but your choice to spend your dollars with local purveyors really, really makes a difference. Let me say that again: It matters in very big, very cool ways when you choose to spend your money with local business owners. Here's how:
When Tulsans spend less money inside the city, the general fund [at the City of Tulsa] runs low. The effects of a struggling national and state economy have combined with more internet buying and more spending options popping up in the burbs to hit Tulsa's sales tax revenue pretty hard. Yep. It's true. It's not something many of us think about until we read the headlines announcing layoffs of city employees, most notably our police officers and fire fighters.
My hope for us all is that we use this crisis as an opportunity to reevaluate our spending habits and that we'll work together to make a better Tulsa. By shopping inside the city limits, you ensure that a portion of your sales tax dollars go to Tulsa's general fund. This doesn't happen when you buy online or in the cities that surround Tulsa. If you choose to shop with local businesses, you do the city even better. When you spend with the chains, their profit gets sent elsewhere, to the benefit of a competing city's economy. Shopping locally, however, means that more of your money stays in town. Local business owners take those dollars, turn around and spend them in Tulsa. It improves our local economy and sends more sales tax revenue to City Hall. Want to save the jobs of those who keep us safe? It's on the citizens to keep this from happening again in the future.
Boom. That was Blake Ewing, owner of Joe Momma's, the pizza joint in the Blue Dome District downtown, in his latest e-mail newsletter. Why in all of the radio and TV and print coverage of this mess happening at City Hall I hadn't heard the issues laid out this way, I don't know.
Colleen McCarty over at Independent Cause, the new outgrowth of the monthly online magazine Tulsa Project, issued her own call to action in a blog post earlier this week:
Under the Mooch’s closing signifies more than just the loss of an amazing local business. To me it signifies our need to fight for our local culture. The malls are closing in, and its getting harder and harder to find local businesses that deliver good customer service and competitive inventory. The one thing we can do to support our town, and develop our own identity is to think local first. When going out to eat (Elote, Joe Momma’s, Tucci’s, Kilkenny’s), when going to a movie (Circle Cinema), when going shopping (Ida Red, Dwelling Spaces, Kiddlestix, Shoe Gypsy), think…is there a local business that will cater to my needs? If there is, by all means go there first over a big box store. I know I am preaching to the choir to some extent, but Under the Mooch is our loss too. If we fail to support our local businesses, they will close, plain and simple. Don’t take them for granted.
How's that for food for thought on an icy winter night? Feel free to weigh in with your own take on these issues in the comments.
Again, if you have serious doubts about your ice driving skillz (or, if you're one of those people who have absolutely no doubts whatsoever about how you drive in icy weather - you and your foolhardiness are actually more dangerous to yourself and others than the inexperienced ice driver, by the way), it's best to stay at home.
Look at it this way: By staying at home, you're being as local as you can possibly be. I mean, it's pretty darned local if you don't even leave your house, right? Heh. Heh heh.
Stay safe and warm, everybody.