There’s Something for Everyone to do!

No matter where you go there will be flaws within the community, some worse than others. There are examples of communities in which the residents have decided which flaws they wanted to eliminate and created ways to begin rebuilding their communities. Each community has different needs and members within that community have their own take on how to solve a problem. Teamwork, a goal and action are the keys to solving the problem. For these reasons, what worked in one community, may or may not work in the next. One thing they do have in common is a bottom up approach.  I favor a bottom up approach when it comes to rebuilding communities because it eliminates the dependency on a top down approach that often fails to create sustainability. Plus, people are usually better at maintaining changes they’ve initiated because they’ve become attached during the process. I’ve found some examples are of communities or residents who acknowledged a problem facing their community and acted on a solution themselves, rather than waiting on someone from the outside to come in and fix the problem(s).

Everyone knows the ruin that Detroit suffers. You can find abandoned properties and crime littered throughout the city. Some neighborhoods had residents that were willing to work hard to try and restore their communities. What began as random entrepreneurs opening a business here or there to improve something within their community, over time, has attracted more small businesses to open up nearby and benefit from the business, resident relationship. It has also resulted in more stabilized communities. The city itself is far from thriving the way it once was but the residents are slowly bringing life back into the city, one community at a time.

You may read that and think that you couldn’t do it because you’re not an entrepreneur. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Sometimes it’s only a matter of community building and hard work. We’ve discussed Savannah Georgia here once before, so I won’t rehash the details but I believe the efforts of the residents are worth mentioning. They are a great example of ways people within a community have to be the catalyst to rebuild their communities. Savannah Georgia was a healthy city that reached a low point in which the city wasn’t the first place anyone would want to live. The residents in one neighborhood began meeting to discuss making improvements within their community. Once relationships were built, a vision was created and incentive was offered to bring in more residents, changes were made. It’s important to note that they didn’t meet simply to complain, they found ways in which they could make changes happen for their community and then they acted on them. The improvements attracted attention and created not only new sources of income for them but inspired people from neighboring communities to do the same.

In many cases community building doesn’t require the entire neighborhood to make the decisions.

Community gardens are popular if you lack the numbers and or resources to make a change. We frequently see people use empty lots to build community gardens but there are other options to bring healthy foods to your community. If you can access funds and or manpower, rooftop gardening is growing within urban areas. Not only does it keep buildings cooler in summer but warmer in winter as well as improve air quality among other things.

Sometimes, even the smallest efforts make a huge impact. In Hamtramck Detroit, a group of friends found a simple solution for a potentially expensive problem. They were frustrated with seemingly never ending potholes in their neighborhood. They got together, spent $120 to purchase materials and filled the holes themselves. They improved a personally frustrating situation for themselves and helped improve the lives of others who utilize that street as well. People driving on that street, especially it’s residents, didn’t have to worry about banging their cars up and seeing a mechanic sooner than they needed to, thanks to a good deed by some people in their community.

This is nothing new but even if nothing else applies, shop locally or offer a small amount of your time to an effort that helps rebuild your community. Your business helps keep small businesses that service your community around and your efforts helps rebuild aspects of your community. Meanwhile, you’re building relationships and networking. That can go a long way to benefit you.

What you do to improve your community is what matters. It doesn’t have to be a huge project such as Savannah Georgia, it doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars to start a business, nor does it necessarily require that you have an army worth of people supporting you to make improvements. Sometimes, ingenuity and action are enough to propel you to the results that you are seeking. Often, once you get started working on improving your community, others will be more willing to help also.

 

As they say, Rome was not built in a day!

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