Wanted: Supporters for the city’s first ‘Going Local’ campaign.
By Carol Robidoux, March 5, 2012, 5:46 am, originally posted in Nashua Patch.
Carrot Mob is coming to Nashua.
Yes, it’s conceptual. And no, it has nothing to do with actual mobsters or organized crime – unless you are like James Vayo and Neil Takemoto, who believe that it’s criminal for downtown merchants to be forgotten by local consumers, and left with no choice but to shutter their businesses.
Vayo and Takemoto have been hard at work developing a Going Local campaign that they hope will gather steam and influence the evolution of Nashua.
Now all they need is a mob.
This sort of “mob mentality” has been taking hold around the country, including right here in New Hampshire.
Case in point: March 24 a group of Concord consumers will be circling their downtown, armed with wads of cash which they plan to spend on an unsuspecting local business or two. Their mission: Boost the local economy while building loyalty and lasting relationships between downtown businesses and local consumers.
It’s a concept in Concord they’re calling “cash mob,” a distant cousin of the carrot mob. You may have noticed that cash mob rhymes with flash mob, and by now you know that a flash mob is an event organized via social media to get people in the same place doing the same thing at the exact same time, for maximum effect.
Now, apply that to local economics.
While flash mobs usually involve music and choreography, cash mobs are a completely different animal. Emphasis is on local activism through the power of consumerism, an idea that has evolved from CarrotMob.org (i.e. dangling a carrot on a stick to get someone to do something.)
Which brings us back to Vayo and Takemoto.
Vayo, assistant project manager for Renaissance Downtowns, and Takemoto, founder CS Placemaking, (csplacemaking.com) have already developed a Going Local Manifesto, which summarizes the thrust of their Going Local campaign:
“We’re building a vibrant local culture and economy. We are invested in our community, supporting homegrown talent and food, and nurturing a distinctive, authentic culture that says Nashua is where it’s at. We’re celebrating the best of our artists and cultural experiences to foster an exciting creative culture; and the best of our entrepreneurs and businesses. Whether it’s a farm-to-table restaurant, a marketplace and farmers market, a community garden, an open-mic night or a coworking space for startups and freelancers, we’ll develop the next generation of local in Nashua and establish an incredible sense of community and collaboration while doing it!”
Beyond economics, it’s truly about building a livable community that serves those who live and work there.
For the past nine months the concept has been gaining momentum with the help of a committed core of a dozen or so city dwellers who answered the call, and have been meeting downtown monthly at Renaissance Downtowns to contribute ideas and feedback.
All are welcome and encouraged to join, Vayo said. A good place to start is coming out March 8 for the monthly Visualize Nashua Meetup event.
Takemoto sees this kind of local ownership of ideas as the best way to engage the dreamers, thinkers and doers needed to build a vibrant and engaged community and take Nashua to the next level.
Explained Takemoto: “Time’s Person of the Year in 2006 was ‘You.’ Time’s Person of the Year in 2010 was Mark Zuckerberg, representing Facebook and all its users. Time’s Person of the Year for 2011 was the Protestor. Notice the pattern? Who are Nashua’s equivalents of You, Mark Zuckerberg and the Protestor? Well, we’re trying to help create those.”
While Visualize Nashua isn’t likely to win ‘Person of the Year,’ says Takemoto, it could certainly support a resident of Nashua in getting there.
By driving more people to their Visualize Nashua website to “upvote” existing ideas or contribute and “champion” new ones, Takemoto and Vayo believe the best idea will emerge. From there, they will plan to stage a “carrot mob” style event that can be replicated every quarter.
Currently, there are two ideas in the running posted on the site: A Farm-To-Table Community Dinner Supporting Local Farmers; and a Local Featured Menu Item, which would involve a Main Street eatery creating a signature dish using all locally-sourced ingredients.
All that’s needed now is some momentum. Vayo and Takemoto are asking everyone who hears about this campaign to go to the website and register for free, and take some time to look through the posted ideas, and then vote for their favorite.
And then, they’d like everyone to pass the link along, via Facebook, Twitter, email and word of mouth in an effort to reach mob proportions.
Takemoto has included a “How To” page dedicated to helping participants navigate the Visualize Nashua website. The tutorial is based on the success of a similar campaign currently underway in Bristol, CT., called Bristol Rising.
Voting deadline for Nashua’s first Going Local campaign is March 15.
Name: Carol Robidoux
Local Editor for Nashua Patch, a new hyperlocal source of news, information and community building.