Home away from Home

I have called West Michigan home for 22 years, and I love it now more than ever. Working at Local First has opened my eyes to how truly amazing this place is, with so many business owners committed to their customers and the community.

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But for four months last year, I found another place to call home. Far across the Atlantic Ocean on a beautiful, small island more commonly known as the United Kingdom, I studied abroad in the wonderful city of York.

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This home was characterized by narrow streets, two thousand years of history, and a huge dose of British charm. But that nutshell description does not even begin to scratch the surface of what York is like, and trying to talk about it with people back in America has been a challenge.

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Another (albeit unrelated) challenge? Finding the right place to get a haircut.

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But you no longer needed a microscope to see my split ends, and so the search began.

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After perusing a few websites, comparing prices and general atmosphere, I settled on Sorella Hair Design.

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I called, picked a time, was informed that Susan would be taking care of me.

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When I arrived at the salon, I heard a voice.

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A voice from the past.

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The accent was British, certainly. But it was more than that.

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This was the voice of a Yorkshire lass.

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For those of you who don’t know, this is the voice of a Yorkshire lass.

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This accent was coming from Susan, my new hairdresser.

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That’s right: after a year back in the States, I finally found someone from Yorkshire.

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SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS ME.

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I left Sorella that day feeling like a new person, but grateful to have had a chance to talk about the past.

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A couple days later, I received a card in the mail.

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It was from Susan, thanking me for coming in, and for talking with her about Yorkshire.

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Our little piece of home, on the other side of the ocean.

Environmental Sustainability

As Earth Day approaches this week, we wanted to look at the ways you can help the environment by supporting local businesses that care about our planet. Check some of those great places that promote environmental sustainability in West Michigan:

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Gazelle Sports

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As highlighted in a previous blog post, Gazelle Sports is B-Corp, meaning they that are focused on environmental and social change in addition to monetary profits. In terms of environmental responsibility, this means measurements of energy use, waste, and water. It also factors in environmental practices and suppliers and transportation.

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WMEAC

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The West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) works to lead environmental protection by inspiring action. They advocate for environmental sustainability, educate and connect citizens, and create positive change. Their 2nd annual Earth Day Celebration event will be at Fredrik Meijer Gardens this week.

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CityFlatsHotel

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CityFlatsHotel Holland was the first hotel in the Midwest to earn LEED Gold certification, and the Grand Rapids location has achieved the same certification. They use green materials, technologies, and practices in an effort to reduce their impact on the environment. They also are committed to having furniture that is manufactured locally from recycled materials.

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Grand Rapids Art Museum

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The first art museum in the world to be LEED Gold-certified, the Grand Rapids Art Museum made sustainability a priority in 2008 during its $60 million expansion. Given the strict temperature and humidity restrictions required for the art, energy efficiency is usually poor in museums. But the design team for the renovated museum used new technology for better insulation from recycled materials, increased natural light, and a grey water reuse system.

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Grove

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Grove is an “earth to table” restaurant concerned with using high-quality ingredients from local, sustainable, and family farms. They work hard to grow and maintain relationships with Michigan growers and take great care in the preparation of these products.

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Brewery Vivant

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As the first LEED-certified brewery in the nation, Brewery Vivant has taken a serious approach to what it means to be a sustainable business. Adopting a long-term mindset, the team at Brewery Vivant believes sustainability is of chief importance. In addition to having a list of goals, they publish an annual sustainability report to track their progress and look for ways to improve.

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Downtown Market

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Featuring a wide variety of food-related businesses, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market is committed to supporting local producers, innovative entrepreneurs, and Mother Earth.  Focusing on energy, water, food, chemicals, recycling, and more, the Downtown Market is working toward becoming the first LEED-certified market in the country.

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Clothing Matters

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When talking about ways to be more eco-friendly, few people think, “speaking of sustainability…what are you wearing?” But the team at Clothing Matters is concerning with that very thing. They work to promote social equity and decreasing pollution through their products. You can shop there feeling good about where your clothes came from.

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Lemonjello's Coffee

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Lemonjello’s Coffee is committed to zero waste. Instead of trash cans, they have dish bins where patrons can put any trash. The staff then sorts through and composts or recycles what otherwise would be just thrown away.

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Our Brewing Co.

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This Holland brewery is dedicated to environmental sustainability. In an effort to care for the earth, Our Brewing Co. sometimes even transports their kegs from Holland to Grand Rapids by bicycle! They also work with local producers to reduce their overall environmental impact.

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Rockford Construction

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Rockford Construction is interested in more than just buildings: they are working to build a better future through environmental sustainability. Their commitment to going green extends beyond their construction projects to their own office, which is eco-friendly in both design and practice. The building was constructed from local, recycled materials and features a green roof with trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers. Inside, they have a composting system and high-efficiency water and lighting.

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Ella's

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This Lowell cafe is focused on using local and organic ingredients for their coffee, food, and baked goods. Since their opening in 2009, Ella's has been commited to sustainable practices, and over 90{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} of their items is made from locally-sourced products.

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Sip Organic Juice Bar

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The folks at Sip Organic Juice Bar are enthusiastic about caring for the environment. They hope to promote community wellness through their sustainability practices. In addition to using local and organic ingredients, they compost and recycle as much as possible. 

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EcoBuns

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EcoBuns offers parents great eco-friendly parenting products, and in turn helpd families make a smaller footprint on our environment. They promote cloth diapering as an alternative to disposable diapers because disposable diapers are the 3rd largest consumer item in landfills and they take between 200-500 years to decompose.