Get Discounted Tickets to Buy Local Bash

The Buy Local Bash is coming up on Monday of next week – that's November 21 – after work at Benjamin's on Franklin (it used to be Ohm for those of you who have been here a few years; Styleen's Rhythm Palace for those who have been here a few more).

The event kicks off this year's Shift Your Shopping campaign, which aims to get you to think about shopping local for your holiday gifts. Buy Local week begins on Black Friday and continues throughout the following week at participating locally owned retailers.

Tickets for the event are $20, and include wine and beer from vendors, as well as some food.

It's a great party.

And here's how you can pay $15 for your tickets instead of $20.

- Like Benjamin's on Franklin's Facebook page.
- Mention the Buy Local Bash on the wall.

Pretty easy, huh? It'd be pretty cool if you'd like Syracuse First, too, since they are the organization putting on the event.

See you Monday!

The Problem of Pledging, the Difficulty of Local

Many of you know about my love for and affiliation with SyracuseFirst. It's a buy local movement run by local folks with local members. It's a fantastic idea with a great campaign behind it.

One of SyracuseFirst's primary campaigns is to get people to pledge a 10% shift from national to local. That is, if you go to Starbucks every workday (about 20 times a month), go to a local place 10% of the time – that means twice a month you're going across the street to Freedom of Espresso or downstairs to Funk N Waffles instead. If you eat at Applebees or Olive Garden, try something locally owned that's similarly priced with similar fare, like Pastabilities or the Dark Horse Tavern.

In the city of Syracuse, that would lead to a $10 million boost to the local economy, as locally owned businesses are more likely to buy supplies from other local shops, get their marketing materials printed locally, etc., whereas Starbucks and Olive Garden have national food distributors and get their materials printed from wherever corporate wants them to.

But a pledge doesn't do the local economy any good. You have to actually follow through on your pledge. That's the hard part.

I was followed recently on Twitter by a user called @Syracuse_NY, which urged its followers to buy local – by, of course, signing a pledge.

Now here's the weird thing. My Local Pledge is a national thing (you'll notice there's nothing denoting the site as having anything to do with Syracuse) started by a Burbank, California-based for-profit marketing agency called CitySites. You can get all sorts of "local" member benefits by becoming a sponsor and paying them a $95 sponsorship fee, or you can become an affiliate and earn money every time someone signs up as a sponsor through your link.

Somehow, that doesn't sound oh-so-local to me. How much of my $95 sponsorship goes to my community? I'm guessing none. That's not to say it's a bad investment, it just doesn't sound genuine to me. And would I love the affiliate money? Sure. But could I sell it in good conscience? No way. I feel much better giving SyracuseFirst $100 as a business or $30 as an individual, knowing that everything they do is here in the community.

Syracuse First Relaunches Website

Below is a press release from buy local movement Syracuse First. The organization celebrated its one year anniversary with a joint event with Dolce Vita, which debuted a local menu, and by launching a new website with a database of local businesses.


June 4, 2010 Syracuse, NY – On this date one year ago Syracuse First was born. To celebrate, Executive Director and founder of SyracuseFirst Chris Fowler announces the launch of a new interactive website for the year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping as much money in the local economy as possible by encouraging people to buy in their own backyard. Fowler worked closely with local design firm 2ndNature — designers of such sites as and — to develop the site so consumers can easily access information to help them identify and patronize local member businesses.

The local buying and sustainable economy movement began more than a decade ago in Boulder, CO. Rooted in the belief that buying from local businesses rather than national chains stimulates local economies, more than 25,000 small businesses around the country participate in some type of business alliance supporting local shopping. Currently there are over 130 businesses and organizations participating in SyracuseFirst.

At, site visitors can educate themselves on the many important reasons to buy local, discover independent local companies to do business with, and other resources to help spread the word about the importance of sustainable economies. Individuals can also take the "Think, Buy and Be Local Pledge," to confirm their intention of support for a sustainable localist lifestyle. Individual citizens, nonprofits, and businesses (which are required to reside and conduct business primarily in Onondaga County) can join the SyracuseFirst organization online at various levels depending on revenue level directly through the site.

Fowler grew up in the Syracuse area and following career in public policy established Syracuse First in the summer of 2009 after learning about the BALLE model. BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, is a national movement to promote socially responsible businesses and bring together independent small business owners, government officials, and community leaders. Fowler is the first to admit changing people’s buying habits is an uphill climb but cites statistics that state "just a 10% shift in market share from national or global businesses to locally owned independents would generate an additional $130 million in new economic activity in Onondaga County."

2ndNature is a founding member of Syracuse First and has donated hundreds of hours of creative direction and web development throughout several phases of the project in an effort to ensure that the organization has a suitable online platform. 2ndNature is an award-winning design studio founded in Syracuse in 2002 by Joel Fairbank and Sage Young specializing in user interface design and motion graphics.

For more information on Syracuse First, please contact Chris Fowler at 315.396.6418 or

Launching Local: Dolce Vita to Debut Local Menu

Dolce Vita, a restaurant with an eclectic menu I really enjoy, is going local for its food, and they'll be featuring many local beers and wines. They're launching their local menu at a private event for Syracuse First, with tickets available for $35 for Syracuse First members and $40 for non-members. Here is the invite.


Dolce Vita has created a “Local Menu” and has offered to give Syracuse First members a first taste!

This private event will feature a three course menu of Local Cuisine with beef from Nancy Lorraine Hoffman, poultry from Crossman Farms, and vegetables from CNY farmer’s market.

Dolce Vita’s “Local Menu” is part of their one year anniversary celebration (also in June) called “We’ve taken you around the world, now we’re taking you the place you least expect.” Everything served as part of this menu has been produced locally within the CNY and Finger Lakes region.

“Launching Local” Details:
When: June 2, 2010. Happy Hour starts at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30
Where: Dolce Vita, 907 East Genesee Street, Syracuse NY 13210
Why: Living local, loving local, launching local!
Price: Tickets are $35 for Syracuse First members and $40 for non members.
*Price includes a three course meal, presentations of the menu, specials on local wines and beers, entertainment and raffles!

Tickets can be purchased with credit/debit card by calling Dolce Vita at 315-475-4700 or via cash or check at the Syracuse First Networking event on May 27th or at the restaurant.

Additional Info:
*Space is limited! Purchase your tickets today to be sure you can participate in this great event!
**Please note that gratuity is not included in the price and we encourage you to tip the hardworking Dolce Vita staff !

Involvement Fair 4 heads downtown May 27


40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force Brings Fourth Involvement Fair Downtown
Event to bring together non-profit organizations and volunteers across Central New York

Syracuse, NY — The 40 Below Civic Engagement Task Force is pleased to announce the fourth Central New York Involvement Fair, Thursday, May 27 from 4 until 7:30 p.m. at SUNY Oswego Metro Center, 2 Clinton Square, Syracuse. The fair will be followed by a networking event hosted by Syracuse First at Al's Wine & Whiskey, 321 S. Clinton St., Syracuse..

The Involvement Fair is a place for local volunteers to find non-profits to become involved with. Picture a job fair, but instead of company recruiters sitting behind tables collecting resumes from nervous students, the tables are staffed by passionate non-profit volunteers or employees, and the people walking around are local residents looking to engage in their communities.

The first three involvement fairs, held at Drivers Village, Le Moyne College and Pensabene's, have been hugely successful for area agencies and organizations, and bringing the event downtown will only mean easier access for more area residents.

There is a nominal table charge for non-profits (RSVP required), and the event is free to attend for anyone looking for volunteer opportunities (no RSVP needed).

The networking event at Al's, hosted by local non-profit organization Syracuse First, will feature food and drink specials for Involvement Fair vendors and attendees with name badges. The event is free to attend.

Local media outlets, non-profit organizations and anyone wishing to attend are invited to contact Civic Engagement Task Force co-chairs Kelly Bayne and Josh Shear at the information below. The task force website is

Kelly Bayne:
Josh Shear: