New Babies, New Worries, New Hopes
July, 2008 - Issue #45
I'm typing this story in the hospital.
My baby sister, who's long past any traditional conception of babyhood now that's she's been on this earth over 25 years, is about to bring a new life into the world.

For the population that has managed to miss out on the "joys" of childbirth, you might not know that a lot of the time, it's a waiting game. Too many Hollywood movies show only the last portion of huffing, puffing and daddy-blaming.

But this baby is telling us that she's not yet ready to make her much-anticipated appearance. So we wait. And wonder.

Mostly, we wonder about what kind of world this Precious One will inherit. Today's headlines announced that the cost of gas and unemployment was at a near-all-time high, while confidence and happiness indicators register a near-all-time low. The web recently publicized a story about how some parents are choosing to switch off "fasting days" between Mom and Dad so that their children never have to go without food.

I simply cannot imagine the pain that must accompany the unbearable stress that lack of food must bring. Thankfully, most of us can't.

But that doesn't mean that Santa Clarita, or her residents, are immune to the struggles that national economic strife brings.

Sadly, it seems that the small, family-owned shops are the first to go. The SCV has already lost a favorite clothing store, a locally-famous hamburger house, numerous professional service providers and many others. Empty retail fronts are common sights; grand opening parties are less.

But we've lost so much more than a chance to buy a boutique-promoted pair of jeans or work with a painter who's also a neighbor. With each figurative death, I feel like a little bit of our town's personality goes with it.

Of course, jobs go, too. And civic pride. The fact that support for our increasingly-needy nonprofit community is diminished is a given.

With the increased costs associated with transport, food costs and other staples, I can see why it just seems easier and more cost effective to shop at a major discount chain instead of buying your kid's new shoes at a Canyon Country specialty shop.

But are you really better off with this decision? Will the foreign-imported shoes last as long as the pair you might purchase from the local Mom and Pop? Will the millions of marketing dollars spent to trick you into spending more than you intended at that big box warehouse be money well spent - to your financial disadvantage? Will you be OK with indirectly supporting business organizations that do everything they can to avoid paying for their employees' healthcare - while raking in record profits for shareholders?

Don't buy into thinking that those square-shaped outlets have you, or your community's, best interests in mind - no matter how many touchy-feely commercials they pay to run on TV.

Do you remember, about a decade and a half ago, when the "Buy American" marketing campaign was at its peak? The concept was simple, and very "Jerry Maguire." "Help me help you" was in full effect. If we wanted to keep jobs in this country, if we wanted to continue to prosper, if we wanted to succeed - together - we needed to make a big, communal decision to support our community: our nation.

Since then, the phrase that has seen significant play is "Think globally, act locally." It's like "Buy American," but with more regional action and a wider impact. And that's why when we must buy something, we simply must buy from a company that can give our community the most local bang for your hard-earned buck.

No one's suggesting frivolous spending. If we've learned anything from the recent slump, it's that overspending eventually blows up in our face. But when it comes down to each choice we must make - do we buy our new, much-needed linens/clothing/etc. at Walmart or from "Mom?" - we can make a difference. Because while we're smaller than the figurative "drop in the bucket" to a box store, we're someone to Mom. We matter to Mom, and she should matter to us.

I think we're starting to get it. This is what gives me hope - hope for me, for Santa Clarita, but especially today - for Audrey Grace Short, not yet born but already loved.
- What is the sum of 8 + 9?
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