Two words. You've seen them before — most likely around the winter holidays, when gift-giving traditions ramp up.

 

Shop local.

 

Purchasing items made and sold by the people that live in your town, county or state shows support for their efforts and encourages entrepreneurs to continue to create and contribute to their communities.

 

Alright, perhaps I got a little carried away with the alliteration there, but stick with me because I have two new words for you to consider.

 

Read local.

 

I realize that I am preaching to the choir. After all, you subscribe to a local paper, paying money so that writers living in your community can go out and bring you the words and images of the events, people and organizations that are impacting where you live and work.

 

It is good to be informed of the events taking place in our country and around the world. It is also good to take note of what is happening in your own backyard — both the positive things and areas that could use improvement.

 

I am not just talking about newspapers, though goodness knows I am firmly convicted of their importance. I am also a proponent of supporting local authors of fiction and nonfiction books, bloggers, scriptwriters and those brave enough to make an appearance at open mic events to share their poetry.

 

They all have one thing in common — a desire to communicate about what is important to them.

 

Support your local writers. If you don't, they will either quit writing or move to where they can find readers.

 

Sure, you can read articles online for free. Libraries will give you access to printed words at no charge. You can even find ways to get complimentary tickets to plays. That is fine — but it cannot be the sum total. Writers have bills to pay, too. Their time and expertise is worth something.

 

Local authors who write about Kansas get the details right. They will not place their characters — as I have seen — in a (very fictional) high-rise apartment building in Wichita or on non-existent escalators at its airport. Buy their books.

 

Bloggers review the shops, classes, restaurants and events being held in your area. Give them your patronage by donating or subscribing.

 

Scriptwriters talk about the issues that the world faces by creating imaginary characters to speak to audiences. Buy tickets to their performances.

 

Listen to the poets, who can craft new insights into timeless themes. Commission them to create something for you.

 

Every once in a while, a TV news station may send a truck up to give you a few seconds about the latest criminal activity or storm damage. But there is a lot more that goes on in this county that no one other than newspaper reporters will cover. There have been many occasions when I have seen someone lamenting not learning about an event until after the fact, even though they scan their Facebook feed 24/7. All I can say is - "It was in The Kansan."

 

Writers speak up for those who can not or will not. Not all of them will suit your tastes, but they all have value. Recommend the ones you appreciate to those in your circle of influence. Kansans supporting the work of Kansans can be a powerful catalyst for understanding and change.

 

Read local.