It starts with neighborhoods…

Don’t you love those days when things seem¬†serendipitous? For me, yesterday had random elements of connectedness that ended up in the writing of this entry.

To preface

The BuyLocal/Think Local First movement is a means to an end. In most advocacy organizations, there’s a ‘thing’ that you’re asked to do, but that ‘thing’ usually leads to something else. The something else could mean greater individual health, a safer home, a better understanding of a particular issue, or something entirely different.

The ‘ends’ of the Buy Local movement is improved quality of life, a keen and unique cultural identity, and a vibrant place to live. Yeah, it’s lofty. It should be lofty. We, as a community, deserve lofty.

It all begins in neighborhoods.

Earlier in the day I came across this blog post from the Project for Public Spaces. Brendan Crain, the author, talks about place-making, branding of cities, and economic development from a hyper-local perspective. He’s of the mindset that neighborhoods can (and should) control their path forward.

It’s the people of those neighborhoods that can identify the needs and advantages of the group. It’s the neighborhood that should organize and strategize its’ way to success — utilizing what he calls the ‘competitive¬†edge’ of each neighborhood.

Gardening, of the economic kind

His thoughts line up with what we call ‘economic gardening.’ Imagine this: when starting a garden you don’t wander over your neighbors yard, take their plants, and use them for your own. You take the time, nurture the soil, plant the seeds, water the garden. With hard work and dedication, you develop your own garden.

Economically, the same principle applies. Attracting large corporations to a community rarely means the creation of new jobs — those jobs are moving from one place to another (digging up your neighbors shrubs and putting them in your yard). Focusing on the people and talent that already lives within the region, nurturing their ideas, supporting their endeavors — that’s the path to real economic prosperity.

Conversations on the Northside

Last night on the Northside of Syracuse, neighborhood leaders came together to initiate a conversation. A discussion centered around goals, ideas, visions, and action.

(Chris speaking to the Northside neighborhood group)

There’s no ‘automatic success’ button, but as Brendan writes, “the development of people and places is the same process.” This group wants grow their own garden, create their own distinct neighborhood, and improve quality of life for all residents. A lofty goal indeed.

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