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Membership in organizations matters

I fondly remember my first membership to an organization.

I was 10 and saved up money from babysitting and my allowance. It was the 1980s and before the internet was readily available, so all campaign-driven organizations relied heavily on snail mail and word of mouth outreach efforts. Greenpeace. An organization with the guts and gusto to take on the goliath. They were protecting marine wildlife from massive killings and raising their voices against nuclear development. I would read their mailings and was in awe. I wanted to be a part of that movement. I wanted to make a difference. But, how could I? I was a kid. And so I took all of my cash rolled up in my sock drawer, put in their envelope, checked the box for “other” and sent in my $18. I did it! I was a change-maker now. And from a very young age, I could feel the energy in joining a movement where my voice would be heard and that I could be a part of something bigger.

Member-based organizations possess the power to amplify voices, foster collaboration, mobilize resources, advocate for change, and provide valuable information and expertise. By harnessing the collective strength of members, there is the potential to create a meaningful impact and drive positive change in various ways. By uniting member voices, Local First aims to create a greater impact on decision-making processes, policies and legislation. We aim to provide a space for the local La Plata County community to vote with their dollars and invest in a movement that means something to them, that allows them to be a part of the vision they want to create for our futures.

Local First has the capacity to mobilize resources in an impactful way through contributions from members. One such example was a generous donation made out to Westside Mobile Home Park made possible because of the Local First La Plata Impact Fund, which puts money from La Plata County businesses toward long-term investments to address issues such as social equity. Businesses that participate pledge 1% of their gross revenues to the La Plata Impact Fund, which is reinvested into the community. The foundation donated $535,000 to Westside Mobile Park with the goal of supporting affordable housing and addressing social equity. Individual gifts allow this type of movement making as well and we rely on the generosity of our local community to continue to walk the talk when addressing our triple bottom line – marrying people, planet and prosperity.

Join the localist movement. Anyone can become a localist when they give. Localist memberships are about loving this community, standing by your values, joining a collective and investing in making our unique corner of Colorado the best it can be for all. The localism movement has had huge impacts across the nation. When people invest in the future of their towns and are vocal about what they want to see, change happens. Because of this movement, independent coffee shops are opening at 1½ times the rate of Starbucks; 250 new independent bookstores have opened since 2009; 4,700 farmers markets have opened since 2002; 112,000 new small farms have started since 2002; and 7 million people have moved their money from big banks into community banks and credit unions in the past five years.

Memberships are a way to invest as stakeholders in the community of which you’ve put your roots. Find your favorite organization, stand by their values, engage in their campaigns and gift the gift of your membership.

Lauren Berutich is CEO of Local First.