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2012 Indie Awards: Supporting Local

Spring 2012 | CoastNotes by Trina Barton
 

At Beneficial State we take a hands-on, grassroots approach to supporting our local businesses and artists. The annual Indie Awards in Oakland is one of our most popular vehicles for doing this. Over the last 6 years we have devoted our resources towards building an event that is more than just a party – it has become a local mainstay during the month of May and a tangible expression of the local, living economy. 

At One PaciicCoast we take a hands-on, grassroots approach to supporting our local businesses and artists. The annual Indie Awards in Oakland is one of our most popular vehicles for doing this. Over the last 6 years we have devoted our resources towards building an event that is more than just a party – it has become a local mainstay during the month of May and a tangible expression of the local, living economy.

Our community nominates three to five hundred of their favorite businesses and artists for six coveted awards, which are then bestowed at a mass gathering featuring festivities, music and the wonderful goods of the local economy. Traditionally held in Oakland, we hope soon to partner with local, mission-aligned organizations and bring the Indie Awards to all the markets and communities that we serve in the Pacific Northwest. 

Businesses and artists eligible for these awards are not just retailers, but all of the other enterprises that together comprise a strong local economy.  As a result, we encourage businesses to nominate their suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers and for everyone to remember service providers. Artists might include painters, sculptors, musicians and others who go the extra mile to contribute to the community beyond the impact of their art. 

You may have read about leading-edge, alternative and people-focused models driving community development innovation. These include “Pop-up” collectives in Oakland, and elsewhere, which cultivate retailers to fill in unused space in commercial shopping corridors. Others examples are crowd-sourcing, direct private investment, co-operatives, and public-private partnerships between cities, businesses and foundations. The event will showcase some of these revolutionary models that make Oakland a pioneer in people- and planet-focused community enterprise.

The Foundation takes seriously its role as a convener of organizations and community leaders focused on solving community issues. The Indies allows us to pull together business-serving organizations in Oakland, find common ground and deepen the value we provide to our respective constituencies. May is California Small Business Month and the Indies are preceded by National Small Business Week. There are at least four other formal business events in May and the Indies are the crescendo to what is sure to be a very exciting month for business owners and service providers.

Through mission-aligned partnerships with entities like the East Bay Express and Inner City Advisors, we grow our reach beyond internal contacts and leverage the ingenuity, networks and events of others. We are all invested in the success of Oakland’s people, communities and economy.

This year’s event reminds us, in particular, of the power of many small things to create revolutionary changes in our economy and environment. For instance, how might we help re-capture the one billion retail-shopping dollars that are sent out of Oakland each year? We feel we can start with reinvesting our money back into the community. After all, the key to stable economies is sustainable, local jobs. In an election season focused on jobs, about 60% of total employment in the San Francisco Bay Area is by small business and state-wide small businesses provided 99.2% of all employers in California.

Since, small businesses support the 99 percent, with the Indies and throughout the year, we try to support the local economy and local employers to increase resiliency now and for the long haul. As organizers of the 2012 Indies, we will be compiling a toolkit of templates to support the expansion of the event to the Pacific Northwest. Of course, the Indies will take on the distinctive “vibe” and shape dictated by the residents of the host city. But as an organizing tool, we hope the Indies will bring value to business and the arts in any community.

For more information about this truly awesome gathering, visit Oaklandindieawards.com. 

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