Casey Marley - Staff Writer
On Wednesday, March 11, author Carrie Rollwagen celebrated her birthday in the upstairs loft of Carrigan’s Public House. While birthdays in American culture are a much-celebrated event, most are not covered by the news. What makes Rollwagen’s birthday party different? It’s theme: Localism, not only the concept of her recently published book, “The Localist,” but also her creed for living in Birmingham, Ala.
Rollwagen, Samford graduate and journalist turned co-owner of Church Street Coffee and Books, has always had an affinity for the small businesses that help create the culture of a community. In 2011, Rollwagen decided to transform that affinity into a lifestyle—buying from only local businesses for one year. Due to her love of writing, she decided to blog about her experience.
The blog, Shop Small, soon evolved into the book “The Localist,” but in order for the book to reach the public, the self-proclaimed “Localist” needed financial support. Her answer to the daunting task of raising $5,000? Use Kickstarter, a popular crowd-funding site.
“I thought if I could make a fun Kickstarter video and have it be something people are sharing and are involved with then when the book comes out I want them to see it, and think ‘Oh, I know what that is.’,” said Rollwagen before her party started.
The campaign was a success. The book, speckled with secrets about the best Birmingham spots, exceeded the $5,000 goal: earning a total $8,199. The exceeded earnings meant that Rollwagen could not only pay to have the book edited and published, but could also go on a tour promoting the book in cities from New Orleans to New York City, following the Amtrak Crescent train line. Noting that she wrote most of “The Localist” on the train, Rollwagen is taking the train as a “romantic” notion that also serves as a way to bring her books with her.
Her stop in Birmingham on the six-week book tour marked a small reunion for the community that originally inspired her project. The party, attended by both friends and fans, celebrated all things local with door prizes from businesses like Piper and Leaf Artisan Tea Co. to We Three Beeks honey and a Kickstarter funded performance from local band War Jacket. “Me and Morgan [an area photographer] were talking and we have the same birthday and we just thought this would be fun and be a way to promote these local shops,” the author said.
“The Localist” can be purchased in either paperback or as an ebook on Carrie’s website: carrierollwagen.com.
Locals only: a chat with area author