Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy by Lyle Estill

With the Shakori Hills Festival going on this week, it seems appropriate to review this small is possiblebook, a survey of the grassroots businesses of Chatham County.

The author has lived in the area since 1990.  During this time, he’s worked for an independent Internet company, created metal art, and run a biodiesel facility.  As such, he’s a big advocate for sustainable businesses and environmental issues.

Small is Possible highlights the people who make a local economy work.  They are artists, craftsmen, shop owners and other business types who have grown to trust each other and see the viability of keeping commerce within the community.

There’s lots of stumbling blocks along the way – financing is always one of the hardest.  It can be hard to talk a loan out of a banker when they consider a fledgling business questionable.  Convincing locals to shop at a food co-op instead of at a big box store is also a big hurdle.  And, there are times when idealistic ventures don’t quite work to par (read the chapter “Housing Ourselves” to find out).  Still, there’s enough success stories here, and Estill writes with an understated humor that keeps this book an engaging read.

Keep it local.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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