Lisa Nakamura is local. So local, in fact, that she has two homes: One in the Sand Point area, with her husband, and another in the San Juan Islands, where Nakamura owns a restaurant (Allium on Orcas) and an ice cream shop (Lily).
Both Allium and Lily feature as local of food and ingredients as possible, like Allium Blend coffee from Local Goods Coffee roasters, greens from Maple Rock Farm, ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery.
But being part of a community, especially one as small and close-knit as those on the San Juans, means even more than just “Buy Local.”
It also means “Care Local.”
In 2012, Nakamura published a little book about a dollar bill named Bucky (illustrated by graphic designer/illustrator/foodwriter/photographer Denise Sakaki). Bucky gets passed around in a local economy, and in the process does a LOT of helping: He’s used to by a book for a construction worker, groceries for a bookstore owner, and fulfill the dream of owning a day care for one couple receiving him (and other Buckys) as a micro loan. He travels the world for 14 years helping many, many people, all the while still being a humble dollar bill.
Why did a chef write a book about a dollar bill? Nakamura discusses the answer to that question on her blog, in a post where she recalls a local woman coming into her restaurant and asking for a job — NEEDING a job — when no job was available to give.
If you think you’re doing better [than this local woman] , that it’s all going to be great, think again. Your neighbors are still struggling. That trip to the locally owned store, the extra dollar you tip your server, the vegetables you buy from the farmer in the field, that’s what my book is all about.
You make a reservation and you no-show? Guess what? You just cost a small business money in labor and time. That server that was hoping for a good table and a good tip will now have to figure out some other way to make rent, to make ends meet. You decide to save a couple of dollars by shopping at a big chain store instead of the mom and pop one down the street? When that small store shuts down, you can take responsibility for it, because you helped its demise along.
Would you rather save a few bucks, and watch your local neighborhood wither away, struggle and scrape? Or would you rather spend with more thought and consideration, and watch your community flourish?
All our Buckies add up. Each one has its own story, as do the people we pass them to. Keep the cycle going.
Nakamura will be selling and signing copies of her book, “Bucky the Dollar Bill,” at the University Village Bartell Drugs (2700 NE University Village St) today, from 3:30-5:30 PM. She’ll also be signing at the Bellevue Village Bartell Drugs (10116 NE 8th St, Bellevue) on Tuesday the 23rd, also from 3:30-5:30 PM.
One buck from each “Bucky” sale goes to support the Orcas Island Family Health Care Center, a non-profit rural health center providing access to primary healthcare and related medical services to island residents regardless of their ability to pay.