Kimber Lanning Local First Arizona, Stinkweeds & Modified Arts

From Portraits of The Shift

Kimber Lanning
Executive Director - Local First Arizona

Age: 41
Political Orientation: Independent
Religious Affiliation: None

Job Title(s):
Executive Director of Local First Arizona and the Owner of a record store called Stinkweeds. And I own an art gallery/performance space called Modified Arts, which is sort of my pattern of buying old buildings and fixing them up and revitalizing neighborhoods.

Talk about your role in the community
I’m a connector and a collaborator. I like finding people who are interesting partners and bringing them together to advance the city. To me what’s most important is that we’re building a better city

Talk about your relationship with the Local Independent community
I think people come to me as a resource in issues they’re having with the city…I think that people rely on me to help them promote their business and I think together we’re creating an entire shift, it’s a cultural change. And that’s difficult in (this) city…we were built after the invention of the automobile so we are sprawled out…and a lot of stripmalls here and a lot of the previous development community that really only understands the old business model of bringing in national chains and…‘shop til you drop’. And that’s shifting and I think I’ve played a role int hat.

If the Local Independent community were an animal, what animal would it be and why?
I’m gonna say a large breed of puppy. Enormous feet, a little bit off balance but growing fast and super loveable and energetic.

Talk about a time that your community lost a business and it had a big impact.
We just lost an amazing restaurant in Scottsdale, a neighboring community, and they are the ones that hosted the locavore (all local food) dinners. And they couldn’t keep their doors open and it was a huge blow, and we’re still reeling from it, the farmers, everybody….

(On the chef working to open another restaurant)
Local First is helping to him navigate the process with the city…I think you’re gonna see the community really rally around him.

Talk about how the “Local Movement” cuts across political lines?
I think people come to the “Buy Local” table for different reasons. I’m speaking very generally, but the left comes to the table for quality of life issues, green issues and the right comes to the table for economic issues. You can not deny that its economically better for the country to keep dollars at home….My founding board had an extreme Republican and a complete “Left”…So I think its important that we put partisan issues aside to work on this collaboratively.

What lesson or piece of advice could you offer?
Its way too cliché to just say follow your heart…people always ask me how I started a record store when I was so young, and I always tell them it wasn’t money, it was guts. It’s way more important to have guts and passion and throw yourself into something and just don’t give up….

What one message would you share with anyone who might see this?
Just get engaged. I think the main thing that drives me insane in this country is the overwhelming sense of entitlement, and the lack of commitment and accountability to certain issues. And I think its really really important that we all equally link arms and advance important issues. There’s never been a more crucial time to learn the fundamental message that contribution is more important than consumption and we’ve forgotten that…


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