Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spreading the word. Buy local!

This morning I've been lolling around at home, reading the Guardian UK online and ruminating on various things, including, just what a delight it is reading British newspapers.  It's a different experience to reading them in the flesh, as it were (I mean holding a newspaper and turning its pages; spreading the whole lot out on your bed and having a cup of tea while you spend hours mulling over the different articles) but, as I've just discovered, different can be good.  For one things, lots of articles have hyperlinked keywords to allow readers to delve into a subject in greater depth.

So, while reading design-related articles celebrating the various works of designers I've never heard of, I was able to click on their names and immediately be directed to their websites.  And gosh, what delightful finds was I able to discover!  It made me realise that I don't do enough to spread the word.  I have two blogs now, and really should use them as a platform for sharing work I admire.  So I will be doing more of this in the future.  The thing is, we all need to take it a step further - especially in Trinidad.

We've got one of the largest per capita populations on facebook.  Fully a quarter of Trinbagonians subscribe to facebook.  Which is brilliant when you think that we're able to share what's going on about the place so easily.  But we need to go a step further - instead of just clicking 'like' when someone posts a showtime for a movie or creates a craft fair event, we need to consume - go out and spend some of our hard-earned money supporting local!  (And on the web, you don't even have to go out, half the time!)

One of the most memorable ad-campaigns for me as a teenager in Trinidad was Hi-Lo's buy local drive. We were in recession, loads of products were on the negative list, and we had little choice but to support local.  Local manufacturing really thrived during this period.  But then, as we came out of recession and moved into a period of boom once again, I was dismayed to notice that local products were being sidelined in favour of foreign - pushed to the back of the supermarket shelves.  It's as though what Hi-Lo meant was, buy local because we have no choice, but as soon as we have a choice, buy foreign!!  In truth, this seems to apply to all service-related industries in Trinidad.  In video, for example, local ad agencies will gladly employ local production companies to produce commercials.  But as soon as we went into boom, like clockwork, the foreign production companies and directors were brought in.  This is demoralising and insulting, and proof to me of just how little self-respect we actually have. 

There are gorgeous things being made here - good products that can stand up.  Certainly, if I wanted to buy some olive oil, I'd buy an Italian or Spanish brand.  They are delicious and we don't produce that here.  Nor am I suggesting that we buy sub-standard brands simply because they are local.  But when I tell you it irks me when I go to the supermarket and can't find locally-made pita bread, which is just as good, if not better than foreign.  Instead of buying the sugar coated Kellog's Raisin Brand, try the Sunshine Raisn Oat Bran.  It's just as good, if not better - I promise.

And too, it irks me that shops like DH Gift, Rituals and others don't seek out quality local products.  My friend, designer Marlon Darbeau, has been designing some exquisite products.  He's soon to launch some beautiful salad servers and other things he's designed.  It was a real delight to me to get Marlon's things for my mum at Christmas - not only because they were local, they were also truly gorgeous, good quality, and the work of a friend and fellow Trinidadian.  Yes, it's great to 'like' something on facebook, and to share a link with your networks (which is something we should all make a habit of doing) but we must also take the next step - we must become our own best consumers.

Here are Marlon's beautiful salad servers! And while you're at it, check out these brilliant things:
Arc Magazine, The Caribbean Review of Books, Trinidad Lookbook, The Cloth, Draconian Switch, Del Mano, Janice Derrick Jewellery, Jasmine Girvan Jewellery, Barbara Jardine's jewellery, Lupe Leonard and her delightful delices as well as her Niysa line of accessories.  You see?  Not bad, eh?