BY PETER ROSE
I can’t articulate exactly what I learned in my high school civics course. I think that’s a problem, one that is at the root of a lot of what feels so discordant, dysfunctional and disconnected in America today. The erosion of simple and clear connectivity within our communities is the root cause.
That may seem incongruous. After all, there are extensive examples of the precise opposite sentiment. Whether it’s all of Downriver, or the individual cities that comprise our region, civic pride is not an alien concept. It abounds, in many ways. Yet citizens here and everywhere have absolutely lost the very concept of their specific rights and duties, as it pertains to the level of prosperity of our collective community.
It’s more of a critique than an indictment. It’s an observation, and an obsession of mine to address.
When we are presented with new information, we have the choice of keeping it to ourselves or sharing it. My businesses benefit as part of the rising tide created by the implementation of the advice I have been given.
Once in my head, the pressure cooker threatens to make my head explode. That would be annoying. Writing, sharing and disseminating information all reduce the pressure. It makes me think that I can improve my world.
Communities that really hum are filled with avid, civic-minded residents and businesses. There are numerous active organizations and non-profits, comprised of people that care and are dedicated to direct their energies to problems and projects through those channels. When one steps back and takes it all in, it is impressive. It is inspiring.
Independent businesses within these communities are prime targets for requests to support all these good causes and mission. This is the way it is supposed to be. Businesses exist because of the support of the residents in those communities, after all. But you might be surprised to learn that the majority of requests are not attached to reciprocal support.
When an existing customer asks us to support a cause they believe in, it is virtually unthinkable to say no. I just can’t imagine responding to their support over the years with a “Sorry, can’t help you.”
It’s not just a business decision; the people that ask are “friends and family.” There is a relationship there, a connection and it feels very good to endorse their efforts, to thank them for those efforts by supporting them.
We also do fundraisers like Dress Up Wine Down (mark your calendars: September 26, Silver Shores!) that require a great deal of time and focus, so as to donate as much as we can help raise to worthy causes.
But the majority of people that ask for support have not connected the dots. They have good causes and their heart is in the right place, but they do not support their locals.
Maybe I just have a different code of ethics or civics, but I would have a much easier time asking for support from a business with whom I do business. I don’t see the requests as negative things; I see the requests as lacking the positivity that always results in greater response.
It’s as simple as this:
A.) A strong business community is better equipped to be a strong, reciprocal player in the charity arena, providing support for the community and all its needs.
B.) The community is strengthened by such a scenario, making residents happier and making the town a more positive place in which to live.
C.) Residents have all the power to make this good scenario come about. Every single spending decision is in play. Every single decision to keep it local increases the odds that the business in question can be more generous, more of the time.
Before you buy: Go local. Think local first.