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Five Ways To Manifest a Socially Conscious Holiday Season

Simple ways to support your local community and the environment, brought to you by the 211info Green Team.

1) Turn “Black Friday” into BIPOC Shop Supporting Friday

The current iteration of Black Friday – an almost Purge-like day of gladiatorial combat for discounted items at chain stores – is bad for both planet and psyche. It’s a particularly bad idea during a pandemic, when crowds are best avoided. But if you’ve got the funds and looking to shop on this high holy day of Capitalism why not double down by doing all the day’s buying at BIPOC owned small businesses?

Portland Monthly keeps an updated BIPOC owned business service directory here and another here.

Shopping from home? Etsy’s Gifts from Black-owned shops page is a veritable cornucopia of gift-age crafted and curated by Black sellers. 

And speaking of online shopping…

2) Target Your Online Shopping to Support Makers from Marginalized Groups.

While “cyber Monday” is apparently “a thing”, in a year in which everything is being done online, singling out any day in particular for online shopping seems as ridiculous as proclaiming one hotel in Vegas as “popular with gamblers.” But the internet makes meeting makers and creatives and knowing who you’re buying from fairly easy. Sites which act as a bridge between creatives and buyers are particularly well suited for this, with Etsy being among the best in allowing you to shop from makers and creatives from all groups. Go to Etsy.com and type “group” + owned shops in the search bar. Meet the makers and buy their wares. It’s that simple.

 And speaking of directing your dollars…

3) Support your community by shopping locally

At no point in recent history have local brick-and-mortar shops more needed your patronage. Targeting your gift-buying purchases with local stores during the holiday season will go a long way towards helping them to survive into the next year and beyond. Got a local second-hand store, neighborhood curios shop, book or comic store you’d like to support? Are they set up for safe shopping and social distancing? Buying your gifts from them is a great way to support your local community. Got artists, writers or other crafty types in your life? Buy their work and gift it to somebody else, gifting two birds with one stone. 

The Urban Darling maintains this list of “10 Unique Stores in Portland” 

The Best Independent Bookstores in Oregon for the bookworms in your life

Conscious By Chloe has scoped out PDX’s thrift and vintage shop scene

…But why spend money at all?

 4) Gift Shop with Free Groups – No Dollars Needed!

Though mentioned already, it bears repeating that this is not a normal holiday season. In addition to mandating  social distancing (making normal holiday gatherings bad ideas in general), the ongoing pandemic is causing financial pain and uncertainty to ripple through our communities. Avoid buying things you can’t afford, and give friends, relatives and loved ones inclined to spend money they don’t have the permission to not do so. This doesn’t mean that the holiday needs to be gift-free. If you’ve got items at home that (to quote Marie Kondo) no longer spark joy, perhaps these items might spark joy in someone else. Offer them as gifts to someone on your list who might appreciate them, or use one of the many Facebook buy nothing groups to both find good homes for your own unwanted items and gifts for others on your own list.

Here’s a good article on what to expect when you join a buy nothing group

One good local group for swapping stuff locally is Rooster, giving you yet another way to trade / ask / give & receive without bringing the industrial complex into your holidays. Looking to donate stuff to a worthy cause? Check out the 211info donations page

…And Last but not least

5) Give Gifts of Service and Time

One of the best uses of our time is our time itself. Some things require neither money nor travel. Make a personalized video of yourself singing a song or reading a poem for a friend or relative who may be ill, in quarantine or forced to remain indoors. Help a neighbor build their backyard fire-pit (assuming they want one), or just bake them a cake (ditto). Looking for ways to donate your time and service? If you’re in Multnomah County, check out 211info’s Volunteering page to learn how to train as a shelter volunteer

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