Are you up for a challenge? LiveLocalKW, a weeklong event, challenges you and others living in the Region of Waterloo to eat, shop and play local from September 13-19. Kitchener-Waterloo businesses are participating in the event by offering discounts and incentives to participants. LiveLocalKW hopes to strengthen the sense of community and belonging between local residents and businesses in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.  We spoke with Juliana Gomez, creator of LiveLocalKW to discuss why eating, shopping and playing local matters.

A\J: What inspired you to start LiveLocalKW?

Juliana Gomez: I believe that growing our sense of community and belonging will result in a stronger community and ultimately happier lives. I thought of the challenge while I was walking home one day in January 2014. I was thinking about the rotating curator Twitter account @peopleofkw and how I would use the following to promote the things I like. I thought about tweeting for a whole week where I lived local and then I thought, why don't I get a bunch of people to do this with me? And that's where LiveLocalKW was born.  

A\J: What is your mission? What do you want your participants to get out of this experience?

JG: Our mission is to challenge people to think about the roles they play in their communities and hopefully consider doing more. We want people to try new things for the week and notice all the amazing businesses and organizations that work to make KW an awesome place to live. After the week is over, we hope that people will create new habits that support the growth and well being of our community.

A\J: Why is living local important and why should Canadians pay attention?

JG: Living locally is important because it's a sign of living intentionally, recognizing the responsibility and impact that we have on our community. Canadians should pay attention because communities are so important to so many more movements that seek to improve our world. When we feel a sense of community and belonging, we feel a responsibility to take care of the spaces we live in and we make sure to be and make them the best we can. 

A\J: What are some of the new things you've added to this year's event?

Juliana: This year we had the support of 7 amazing sponsors: The Community Edition, LSPIRG, Westmount Signs, Your Neighbourhood Credit Union, Matt Smith Photography, Uptown Waterloo BIA and the Downtown Kitchener BIA. This has been a big help in marketing and promotions; in fact we have over 250 people signed up and over 70 businesses. 

We also coordinated a whole line up of events for the week with local organizations that are already doing amazing work in KW. This is going to be really helpful for people who want to play local with us next week. 

A\J: Do you have any tips for people who are unable to pledge in this event this year but would still like to participate?

JG: Pledge! The challenge is as flexible as you make it and if you cheat, you can set aside a Toonie for cheating, which we'll collect at our event on September 19th and donate to Foodlink. The challenge works on an honour system so give it a try and keep us updated on how your week is going! It's also free to pledge so accessible to everyone. 

The challenge has started, but you can still sign up and follow Live Local on twitter to be part of the conversation.




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