With a name like "Year of the Local," you might think ThincSavannah was trying to reinvigorate the old debate about native Savannahians vs. newcomers to town.
But the name really refers to the idea that a local economy should reflect as many locally grown and produced goods and services as humanly possible.
"The name was originally tongue in cheek," laughs ThincSavannah co-founder Ashley Bowersox. "But one of our big pushes is to get everything as local as possible and support as many local businesses as we can."
To kick off the Year of the Local, ThincSavannah hosts a fete this Friday at the ThincSavannah space, with drink from Eagle Creek, Southbound, and Coastal Tybee breweries, farm-to-table food, and good music.
At the event, "all the beverages will be local, and all the food traceable so that you'll know what farm produced what aspect of what ingredient," Bowersox says.
In the spirit of rewarding entrepreneurship, the party also serves as another point of entry for one of Savannah's great recent success stories, Savannah Stopover.
"The band will be Fare the Gap, and they're brought to us by Savannah Stopover," he says. As a bonus, at the event Savannah Stopover will announce its lineup of local bands for the March festival.
(The first phase of announcements of the touring lineup has already been announced; go to savannahstopover.com for details. Another batch of bands is set to be unveiled soon.)
The overarching goal of ThincSavannah's Year of the Local is "to highlight some of the local businesses out there doing great things nobody knows about," Bowersox says.
"We know about Gulfstream, we know about the success of our tourism industry. But there are a lot of other, smaller businesses that are doing great things."
These days, a local business success story usually involves bringing a small firm to town which might employ as few as two or three people, rather than the larger manufacturing concerns of decades past.
However, Bowersox is quick to point out that "they don't employ many people — yet. Gulfstream didn't start out with 5,000 employees. They started out making one jet at a time and they grew to be big. Each and every one of these new small businesses has potential if they're managed correctly. Any one of them could hit it big, and we want to give them every opportunity to do so."
More specifically, Friday's party seeks to raise money for a certain popular Saturday morning event in Forsyth Park that you've probably heard of.
"We wanted to raise money for a good cause, and to my mind Forsyth Farmers Market is one of the best to support," Bowersox says. "They're bringing us local and real food" — much of which will be on hand Friday.
This weekend's party will actually be the first of at least four Year of the Local events from ThincSavannah, "highlighting other aspects of the local talent base."
The idea is also to gingerly expand ThincSavannah's historic role as a co-working clearinghouse into something closer to a business incubator, along the lines of what The Creative Coast has tried to do.
"My goal is for everything I use on a day-to-day basis to be made by someone I know or have some access to, down to who crafted the chair I sit in. It's the little things we don't think about. Fifty or 75 years ago everything like that was made locally, now everything's made globally," Bowersox says.
"The problem with that has been as we keep offshoring and outsourcing, we don't have people now who can afford to buy those products. And no one's making them here," he says.
"We've got to close the loop and bring it back. I'm not against acting globally but we've got to look out for our brothers, you know?"