Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beyond Words - The Art Of The Heart

There's a lot to love about Altadena, but I found out early on in my residency here that it was the artistic community that thrilled me the most.  Everywhere I went, it seemed, I could find art, artists and their works - from Art On Palm to different receptions at venues around town.

Consider that I moved to Pasadena, and ultimately, up to Altadena, from Santa Monica, which is an "arty" town - many small galleries and a vibrant artistic community.  Also a staunch "shop local" town, but we'll get to that another time.  When I moved here, I knew only one person, and he wasn't into the art scene.  I was lucky enough to meet people in the art scene here in Altadena, though, and quickly became enamored of the artists - how lucky I was to have moved here!

Now that Scott and I own this store, we've slowly been working on making room for more local artists on our shelves.  We're proud that we represent so many fabulous local artists of different genres here at WFS!  I'd like to talk for a moment about our latest additions, both authors and both women - a fact that I'm personally very thrilled with!

Margaret Finnegan, a local whose blog Finnegan Begin Again always provides at least a snort of laughter, has written the wryly funny book "The Goddess Lounge", that's loosely based on Homer's "The Odyssey".   The fun part of this is that we're carrying it at WFS and I couldn't be happier - the protagonist, Penny, lives in Altadena, for heaven's sake, and adventure is her game!  If you haven't read it yet, you're missing out on a fun read!

Patricia Bunin, who writes a syndicated column called Senior Moments, has written a book titled "Password: SeniorMoment" that I'm just wild over!  As long as I've been following Patricia's column in the Pasadena Star News, it's never failed to touch a part of me, and her book is no exception.  Those of you with aging parents, even those of you whose parents are now a sweet memory, will enjoy this book filled with wit and wisdom.


Margaret and Patricia are just two of the many, many artists we showcase at WFS, and I love each and every one of them!  If you're local, make sure to reserve mid-October for an artists' reception of major proportions.  If you're not local, that's ok, you can follow us here or on Facebook for updates and pictures.  Again for the locals, be sure to come by on Fancy Food Truck Fridays (2nd Friday of each month) for our Poetry Slam, led by local artist and poet Aldonia Bailey - they happen around 6:00 pm!

Take care this week, my friends, and we'll talk again next week -

Lori and Scott

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Local Is As Local Does

Another active week as passed here at WFS, and I, for one, am still savoring the excitement!  At the store, we've been busy stocking up on locally produced body care items from wonderful Pine Street Products and HomeBody Botanicals; and items from fabulous Jabberwocky Smooth Jerk.  We also received a new shipment of greeting cards from our favorite earth-friendly supplier, Tree Free Greetings!  If that weren't enough, we've made arrangements with locally-recommended Crazy Bitch Tea, billed as "The Bitch Stops Here - Bringing Harmony To The World Around Us"; and with SoCal company Green Toys, Inc. - look for their products in the store soon!

I attended the Women In Business Awards on Friday the 17th, having been named one of the Outstanding Small Businesswomen in Altadena.  Each year, the Women in Business Awards and Legislative Update recognize businesswomen who have contributed to the economic growth and well-being of Southern California. These women exemplify the broad range of accomplishments that women have achieved in our communities. Interestingly enough, August 26th will be the 92nd anniversary of women's right to vote in the United States.  I am extremely proud to be a part of the burgeoning sector of women who own their own business, and as a woman, I salute my sisters!  Here's a photo of a group shot of the honorees from our district, with Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, and fellow Altadena honorees Inger Miller and Jill Hawkins of MillerHawkins Events:

 One of the highlights of the event was the keynote speech by space exploration pioneer and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientist, Z. Nagin Cox (also a woman and a fascinating one, at that!).  Ms. Cox shared her exciting experiences on the recent Mars landing of the Curiosity rover and discussed her journey from Prairie Village, Kansas to JPL and Mars rover engineer - such an inspiring story!  I am thrilled to be a small part of this wonderful event, many thanks to Dr. Thelma T. Reyna, who nominated me!

Dr. Reyna is the author of "The Heavens Weep for Us and Other Stories" and is one of the many local authors we represent at WFS.  Did you know that we have over 40 artists of almost every genre here at WFS?  From books to paintings, from food crafters to stationery designers, WFS is your source for locally-made goods and there's no better way to invest in your community! 

Have a great week, friends, and we'll talk again next week.  We've moved into Back To School time in Altadena (so soon?!) - I'm missing the traditional autumn feeling that usually accompanies the season, but I'm sure we'll catch up soon enough!  Stay cool....

Lori and Scott


Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Your Town Now......


 It's Your Town

I used to go out quite a lot,
chase to chase and shot to shot.                                     
I'm all done with that somehow,
and it's your town now.

These days the mighty eagle sings,
of money and material things,
and the almighty Dow,
and it's your town now,
your town now,

From the mountains to the plains
all the towns are wrapped in chains,
and the little that the law allows,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,

Where are the young bands gonna play?
Where're the old beatniks gonna stay,
and not before some corporation bow?
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,

So be careful everyone,
Cops can get careless with their guns.
And then they slip off somehow,
and it's your town now,
it's your town now,

You young ones it's up to you
to fight the fight and I hope you do,
Oh I see in your eyes that you know how
and it's your town now
your town now.

Don't let 'em take the whole damn deal,
Don't give up on what you really feel.
Ah, the small and local must survive somehow,
if it's gonna be your town now.
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be your town now?
Is it gonna be?
----Greg Brown

My mother taught me long, long ago to not say anything at all if I had nothing nice to say.  So, I put myself on a two week blogging exile.  I've been so overwhelmed with the negative that I was afraid to put pen to paper....ummm....keyboard to screen....oh heck, you know what I mean.  But I'm overjoyed to be back with a more positive outlook, and, hopefully, I can convey what I have to say without being overly dark and depressing.

In this week's post, I'd like to talk about this article in the Washington Monthly, written by Barry C. Lynn and Lina Khan, and its relevance to the song captioned above.  In the article they describe the fact that American entrepreneurship has fallen off precipitously in recent years, and opine the reason for that drop.  Here's a sample, actually the final paragraph of the article:

"Indeed, the decline of small business documented here appears to confirm that the great social experiment undertaken a generation ago—when we allowed our government to cease enforcement of our antimonopoly laws—has had a devastating effect not only on our democracy but also on the ability of ordinary Americans to build their assets and move up the socioeconomic ladder through enterprise. The loss of job creation that comes with the hollowing out of America’s entrepreneurial sector also goes a long way toward explaining why American businesses were creating fewer and fewer jobs even before the Great Recession hit. The founding generation was right: as America’s entrepreneurs go, so goes America’s prosperity and democracy. If we are ever to recapture the promise of this land, we must first break down the great powers that crush the individual citizen’s initiative and ability to create and build what is new and better."

We need our entrepreneurial sector to be able to create more and better jobs.  Without that, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Or some would say, between RiteAid and Walmart.  I'd like you to re-read the words to the song that opens this post.  Is this what we want for our town?  Some would have you believe that yes, this is what we want.  I, and a growing number of people whom I speak with daily are saying NO.  No to the large corporations, no to the chains, no to dead-end jobs that go nowhere.  It doesn't matter if you're reading this and don't live in Altadena.  Something like this can, and probably has, happened where you live.  There's a radical push to open more and more big-box "urban" model stores that are local-washed to fit in your community, but really are just a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Now is the time to say no, not in our neighborhood, not in our town!

Our locally-owned, independent businesses and our local start-ups need your support now more than ever before.  Be a part of the change in your community and start a movement to bring your local businesses to the attention of its residents.  Webster's Fine Stationers is proud to have started such a movement here in Altadena by investing in other local businesses.  We also love that we feature businesses other than ours in our social media campaigns. If you're asking what you can do in your neck of the woods, here are some suggestions.  Start an independent business alliance if you're a small business owner or, if you don't have the funds to do that, ask your Chamber of Commerce.  Do they have a Independent Merchants Committee?  If they don't, suggest they form one and volunteer to be on it.  If you're a concerned citizen, start a cash mob for your local businesses.  We've done this in Altadena and it's working out very well.  Petition your City or Town Councils to keep chain businesses out and to help foster independently owned small business ventures.  The more active we are in our communities, the better we all get along and it's a good feeling to know that we're working toward sustainability, local self reliance and autonomy.

Without the support of the communities across the nation, our independent businesses will be eaten alive by the encroachment of huge corporations.  With no local businesses, a community will wither - property values decrease, individuality lost and nothing left to differentiate it from any other.  Is that what we want?  Is that your town now?

For our local readers, see on the net and SaveAltadena on Facebook for news, meeting times and other information.

Talk to you next week, friends, and until then, be well and happy.

Lori and Scott