Ben Saren,

Portraits of The Shift

Ben Saren, Co-Founder & CEO, 

Ben is super-busy these days and we couldn't arrange a live interview, but he has been a supporter of Somerville Local First from Day 1 and I wanted to make sure he was included in this project.

Age: 33
Political Orientation: undisclosed
Religion or Religious Affiliation: undisclosed

Job Title(s): 
Co-Founder and CEO at

How do you view your role in the community? 
Community is a bi-directional relationship. One cannot be a part of a community, be it a geographic one, or a shared interest, or even a digital community, unless it's a give and take exchange. You cannot be only a receiver, and you cannot be only a giver. You must participate. My role in any community is to provide, share, contribute knowledge as well as associate with like-minded members of the community. In terms of my community here in Somerville, MA, I try to respect other members of the community in the simplest ways, such as keeping my property clean and tidy, being courteous and respectful to my neighbors, participating in neighborhood and city events and activities, making charitable donations to causes, even the little things like paying my taxes, obeying the law, keeping my dog properly licensed and vaccinated.

Talk about your relationship with the Local Independent community.
I know that spending my money at local merchants is good for my community. It provides resources for the small merchant to sustain itself, and to hopefully thrive, as well as resources that go right back into the community. This is hugely important to me. My relationship with the Local Independent community is a proud one, and one that I continue to develop. I enjoy knowing my local merchants who are also my neighbors. I enjoy knowing them on a first name basis, and I enjoy discovering more ways to connect with them and collaborate on common interests. I also try to spread the word both privately as well as through my business, about local businesses and encourage people to buy locally.

If the Local Independent community were an animal, what animal would it be and why?
I would have to say the tiger. A sole tiger might not be that successful at surviving, let alone thriving. Alone, the tiger is not terribly effective. But in numbers, the tiger is lethal and can take down something as large as an elephant. Like local businesses, the tiger works best in numbers, as a team, collaboratively, and they share in the bounty.

Talk about a time, if there ever has been one, when you needed support and the Local Independent community was there for you.
Certainly with my business, small businesses have come out in numbers to support a charitable campaign we've spearheaded, or to rally together and make their voices heard. I cannot say that there are specific events in my life where the local independent business community has personally been there for me, but indirectly they have most certainly affected my life in great ways. If it wasn't for them my wife and I would likely not be such proud citizens of Somerville, or we'd likely have to take our car to a big national chain for maintenance as opposed to locally where we know the mechanic and he takes excellent care of us. We'd likely be eating unhealthier foods, and hence not be as healthy. There would be countless consequences (known or unknown) if we didn't have our local independent business community to rely on.

If you could deliver one piece of advice or lesson learned from your life as an entrepreneur and organizer, what would it be?
"Lead, follow, or get out of the way." - Thomas Paine

If you could deliver one message to anyone who might see this, what would it be?
Be active in your community. I can absolutely, hand-down, guarantee you that you will be pleasantly surprised at what just being active in your community can result in. It yields wonderful results for you, for the community, and for many others in multiples. Get out there, get active.


  1. Elona says

    Great outlook from an amazing kid!

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