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Add in fuel cost and buying locally makes a lot of sense!

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Four dollars for a gallon of gas. “Wow,” right?

And maybe “nice,” too.

How ’bout “finally” as well? Maybe this is the year. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point? Maybe we’re finally there on the greater environmental issues. Just maybe, during the summer of ’08, the prevailing lifestyle will get so expensive that we’ll reach that tipping point and the massive monstrous battleship of America’s Suburban Era will actually begin to make a turn. (Sorry, I can’t think without cheesy metaphors — humor me, huh?)

Since Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the “indy band” that was the environmental movement (for what, 40 years?) has been picked up and signed by all the major labels. And this spring, now that the consequences for consumers (I hate that word) are present and dramatic and acute, the media is packed with stories about people changing behaviors in response to rising fuel costs (and rising rivers). Man, I hope it’s true.

Maybe the same story that appealed to our romantic earth-loving selves 40 or 10 or five years ago, and then appealed to our detached and logical selves five and three years ago, has finally punched us in the stomach. Money in the gas tank is where the rubber meets the road, right? (Sorry!) One West Groton resident calculated his cost for each trip to the mall at $12. Nice. Getting to tax-free New Hampshire costs $12. Finally.

Hmm Twelve dollars for the nerve-calming effects of the Daniel Webster highway? Twelve dollars for the cardio burn from my half-mile hike across the sea of asphalt at Pheasant Lane Mall? In Going Local and The Small-Mart Revolution, Michael Shuman writes, “Everyone believes that the chain stores have the cheapest prices,” but those corporations spend a whole bunch of money to create and spin that perception.” Is it real? I’m guessing they left out the $12.

We can all hope (and we should do more than hope) that development will proceed as envisioned by Groton’s recently created Station Avenue Overlay District, and the processes and guidelines now in place to bring it about. When that happens, Groton can satisfy a dramatically broader range of our daily needs. But here’s the deal — by definition, these will not be places that saturate our lives with TV commercials and other spin and PR. And in order for these Small Marts to succeed, you and I will have to look past the national ad campaigns — or hold them, off at least — and look under our own noses. We’ll have to look local first.

For more information on the Local First campaign just getting underway in Ayer, Littleton, Groton, Westford, Shirley, Pepperell, Townsend and Harvard, visit www.grotonlocal.org or call (978) 448-9830.

W. TIMOTHY HESS

Groton

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