#51 is it local?

“love your neighbor as yourself.” {mark 12.31}

I write a lot about giving to causes that help people overseas… far far away in these lands that I’ve traveled to. where the world looks very different. where I have seen and met people living in conditions that you might deem unimaginable until your eyes see it and your senses tell you – this is actually real.

over there – that is what makes my heart ache.

for a recent donation I wrote about, I posted on facebook and asked my friends to suggest where I give a small micro-finance loan to. which country and person did they think I should donate to. the first response was “the united states of america”. many people “liked” that response. I smiled and totally understand this sentiment. for years when I worked at a large non-profit we would get letters and emails every day asking us why we didn’t do more for the kids in need “right here in our own backyard”.

the answer then and the answer now remains the same – it’s about relevant help, and relevant giving.

had we sent shoe boxes of pencils to kids in new orleans who suffered and lost everything after hurricane katrina, we would have been easily discounted. companies with a lot of money and capacity were giving those kids things that you would never dream to put in a shoe box. those kids needed a new backpack, not a piece of hard candy in a shoe box.

similarly with the loan I made to kiva, I could make a $25 donation to help an entrepreneur in central asia start a lucrative cow business. what would $25 do to help a struggling entrepreneur in the U.S.? perhaps buy a meal or some copy paper for their office, but certainly I could not help start or save a business with that loan.

so with the limited resources I have, I give to what inspires me, and where I know that I can make as significant a difference as possible.

for me, it’s not about NOT choosing to give in the united states, it’s examining the need and responding in the way God’s called me to respond. in a relevant way that doesn’t undermine the gift or the recipient.

that said, I want to write now about giving local.

my friends and I have recently become addicted to the show portlandia. it’s a silly spoof on hipster culture in portland, oregon. one of the first skits in the show is a couple who are out to dinner and want to order the chicken, but first they have a lot of questions. they want to be sure it’s local. was it raised locally? was it fed local food? hilarity over their intense interest in it being “local” ensues. if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it on youtube!

doing things local is the trend. I buy local granola. I visit my local farmer’s market. I buy christmas presents at the local small stores to help keep them in business.

I have a desire in this new year to focus more on those around me. not only those who might need my help or who I can give to… but things like – my church, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my coworkers. the things that are closest to us sometimes are the most easily overlooked. so, it’s one of my new year’s resolutions to be more mindful of the local.

as I was thinking and praying about this, and how I wanted to make one of the last 10for52 donations related to this, starbucks popped into my head.

I go to the same starbucks nearly every morning. the one on the corner in my little town. it doesn’t even have a drive through, people. I have to get out of my car to get that coffee. that’s kind of a big deal… every morning, the same people are there. the same workers and the same clientele. I want to get to know them all better this year.

a few weeks ago, I was starbucks blessed. I was standing in a long line and when I finally got to the front to order, already late for work, already a little annoyed, the guy behind the counter handed me my drink. grande americano with room.

he remembered.

for 7 years I lived in a small town and went to the same coffee shop and ordered the same drink – and they always acted like they had never seen me before in their life.

but this guy remembered. I know it may be a small thing, and he probably does that for a lot of people, but when he handed me my already-made drink that he had started when he saw me walk in the door, I felt the local love.

this is a neighbor. this is a neighborhood that I love.

so, I’m making a donation to them, the starbucks staffers. I’m throwing $10 in the tip jar and hope the little boost makes them smile at the end of a long work day.

I encourage you to look around you at the mundane and ordinary things you see all the time, and try to see them in a new light. try to find a need or even just a place where you can interject an unexpected blessing. that, also, is a great gift.

one small starbucks-related way to do this – or really, any drive through – is when you are paying for your order at the drive through, go ahead and pay for the person behind you as well. that’s always an energizing way to start out your day!

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One response to “#51 is it local?

  1. where the heck is the ‘like’ button on this thing??

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