Building Mutualistic & Reciprocal Relationships

The last few blogs have been mainly explaining the hidden value in neighborhoods. It was groundwork or a prelude into a series of posts about mining our neighborhoods and creating value in all the resources available to us. In this blog, I want to discuss reciprocal and mutual relationships. Although these terms sound synonymous, they are functionally different. Reciprocal is an action that is returned where mutual is a shared relationship of sorts.

When people have complimentary ideologies or similar goals, competition arises when they begin to compete for the same limited resources. That has been the common thread woven between many organizations that serve our underrepresented neighborhoods and population. When funding dries up or the a person in a public, private or even government agency leave their respective post, programs become underfunded rendering them useless and in some cases they cease to exist.

When you focus on activity that requires no funding, you can then begin to focus on a result-oriented approach that does not put a strain on resources. Human capital is measurable and should be managed to maximize utilization. By dividing the needs of the community into segments you can satisfy those needs by identifying mutualistic relationships and then further identifying those with reciprocal relationships.

I have identified four local businesses and organizations that have a mutualistic relationship in Rochester N.Y. All four of these organizations or businesses all have one thing in common. They all want a healthy, safe, intelligent and productive community. They all operate in a different capacity to fulfill a mutual goal. Each operation has a different approach and serves a different purpose.

Dr. Leonard Brock owns a company called Neighborhood Scholar. He believes that every person, in any neighborhood, has the intellectual capacity to achieve greatness. A product of the projects himself, he was able to complete college and receive his doctorate degree. His circumstances are identical to millions of children across this country and he believes that just like he achieved it, so can every other kid that grew up in a neighborhood like his. His company promotes literacy and academic achievement. His slogan, “There is a scholar in every hood” stands true and he is a living testament to that.

Miquel Powell started a running group, also in one of what people would call “the worst neighborhoods in our city”. He believes in the health and wellness of every person in the hood. Through a healthy lifestyle, you can combat many things such as health problems and stress. Every Saturday a group of individuals get together and run through this neighborhood where jogging isn’t an every day occurrence and health and wellness are a severe problem. The hope is that more people from the neighborhood will recognize him as this initiative grows, considering, he grew up in that neighborhood, was a product of that neighborhood, went to prison, came home, got his bachelors in social work and is now an advocate for change. Leading by example he hopes to raise the bar and expectations of the area that he grew up in.

Lomax Campbell, one of the three founders of B.O.B Rochester, a company that promotes black businesses in area of Rochester, believes that there must be a better way to help and promote black businesses. His model supports the idea of economic stability and vitality in the black neighborhoods. He believes that all businesses involved can benefit and grow, with access to marketing and financial information. With planned seminars on small business on topics such as growth, inventory management, accounting and a host of other topics, these neighborhood stores will be in a much better position to compete in the local landscape. When small business wins, everyone in that local economy wins. Jobs are produced and critical products and services become available.

Lastly, Cory and Tanisha Johnson started their LOVE Marriage Ministries program to “support, uplift and strengthen black marriages and families” in a time when divorce is high and broken families are the expectation. Once the family units in our neighborhoods are strong again and two parent households are common, we will see drastic changes in the way our children are brought up, the way women are treated and an overall increase in compassion. There will be less stress in households because they will have the support needed to collectively work through problems and be a support to one another. Parenting can be taxing but being a single parent could be detrimental. Love is the cornerstone of all communities and a child that grows up in a loving and stable home is more likely to exhibit loving and caring traits as an adult.

Each of these organizations works autonomously from each other but share a mutual goal. Social ecology says that each of these individual businesses are needed for a healthy and sustainable ecological system to work and produce healthy participants.

The question is, “How do these individual organizations/ businesses with mutual goals, begin to achieve their goals, while not putting a strain on limited resources?” The answer is to develop reciprocal relationships. If We run the hood, LOVE Marriage Ministries and Neighborhood Scholar become a part of B.O.B. Rochester, a platform that promotes black businesses and organizations, they help B.O.B’s site, which was founded with the ideals of improving the economic health and viability of neighborhood businesses become a more valuable resource. Also, they increase their chances of being seen by B.O.B’s clients. Further, if these organizations participate in the Saturday morning runs, they exponentially increase the amount of people participating. The increased visibility makes running more common and eventually more socially acceptable because over time they will see people who look like them running. Each company can wear their respective logos on their t-shirt or better yet, they could all pool resources and put their logos on the We run the hood t-shirt to show unity.

The trade off of this approach is that it has a relatively low impact on resources and a very high impact on our neighborhoods.
As more and more people come out to run in a neighborhood run, not associated with a cause or asked to give any money, a greater number of people become healthy and aware of participating business activities through the dissemination of information in a social setting. Positive externalities begin to flow and relationships build.
By simultaneously working on a mutualistic and reciprocal approach, you begin to set the neighborhood up to be mined for the wealth of human and social capital available. This is an organic approach that is neither intrusive nor demanding and the results are high.

One comment

  1. Takisha Powell says:

    It’s great to hear about positive individuals doing great things in their community, especially Miquel Powell. We look forward to all the great things to come from you.

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