Emerald Messenger

The hills are bursting with microbusinesses, artists, musicians and the self-employed. The natural beauty of the area draws those who seek inspiration to dwell in its lush forest – which is in turn enhanced by their creatively inspired offerings. This interplay between environment and artist draws people from elsewhere to come and enjoy what we are fortunate to enjoy every day.

So many of the people who choose to live in the hills are actively and creatively shaping their lives into something they want, something they think is beautiful with their art and with their ingenuity. We are fortunate in the Dandenong Ranges to have so many talented and creative people close at hand. Our delightful little towns with their quirky little shops and markets reflect the eclectic nature of our community.

Lockdown has been hard on everyone and harder on some than others. While most Melbournians have been working hard to protect one another from Covid-19 and the 5km travel restriction has helped to keep hills residents safe, the impact on many self-employed people in hospitality, retail and the arts has been devastating. Smaller businesses are bearing the brunt of the losses and left wondering if their business or previous livelihood will make it through to the other side.

So what can we do?

A good place to start, with Christmas on the horizon, is to consider supporting your local friends and neighbours who are in business either online or in the flesh.

This year, I have made the decision to buy local wherever possible as I know that I am directly supporting my local community. My decision to shop local won’t make or break anyone on its own of course but perhaps we can start a real wave of support for our local businesses by making such a conscious decision ourselves. Being more conscious of where we spend our money means we can direct our money towards things we agree with and believe in, things we want to support.

So, why not make this coming Christmas a wonderful exploration of all that your local area has to offer. Shopping  locally whenever you can will be much appreciated by local businesses and artists. Supporting musicians in local live performances helps to keep them employed and in demand. All have been doing it tough during lockdown.

Since the pandemic began thousands of people have switched their business to online. You might prefer to visit your local businesses in person but now you can also visit many of them online as well. So check to see what your favourite little florist, bakery, restaurant or beauty salon may be offering online now.

As the restrictions have been eased, everyone will be able to enjoy a bit more face to face engagement  with local proprietors while still managing safe distancing. Our amazing hills community is full of individuals who have creatively built their world here in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges and if we all pull together this Christmas we might just help our friends and neighbours not only stay in business but thrive into the future. This is an investment we can make that not only helps others directly but also benefits us into the future as we all want our beautiful little towns to flourish.

Our artists, makers, musicians, creatives and small business people are the people that go out on a limb. They are the ones who make things, interesting, beautiful and fun. They not only make beautiful things, they also make things beautiful. They are the folk that bring the magic and the style to our local area and we should all show them some love this Christmas.

While you’re shopping locally and reducing your carbon emissions why not consider buying a local artist’s music or a print from a local painter whose work you like? How about a voucher for a meal out or some locally made wine or spirits? Maybe you can make up a hamper of locally sourced delights or even have something handcrafted and unique made especially for someone you love?

Shopping locally is a win-win-win situation. There are no losers. It is environmentally sound, socially responsible and future building not just for our unique and precious towns but for ourselves. It shapes our place in the world into something that we can feel proud of and take delight in.

MEREDITH COLE

Categories: November 2020