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My small cities blog tour has not only given me a creative outlet for my photography, it has given me a chance to see the similarities, differences and trends that exist in the communities I visit and beyond. I’ve decided to use this forum to address some of these ideas as well. While these entries may deviate from my original “photo blog” idea, I think it’s a fitting natural progression.
Something I have often run across during my small cities blog tour is the local pride movement. The idea that rejecting “Big Box” stores in favor of shopping for products and services made and sold in one’s own community is ESSENTIAL to the rebirth of our small cities and downtown areas. Shopping local, art walks, even wearing local gear and drinking local beer creates a culture that not only supports the local economy, but has an immeasurable positive effect on the psychology of a community. I’ve seen this play out again and again and it’s truly wonderful to witness!
My visit to Troy New York opened my eyes to what ferocious pride, paired with creative collaboration and an acceptance of outside influence can do for the advancement of a city. Local vendors and artists talked about how important it was to collaborate and share ideas with other local creative minds and businesses, not compete with them. Many often stated the need to do the same with outside entrepreneurs and influential individuals and organizations in order to keep new ideas and potentially new income flowing into their community.
As a circumstance reminded me recently, we have to be very careful that our local pride doesn’t turn into isolationism. Even the best communities must continue to work with individuals and organizations from outside the community to keep ideas fresh and business diverse and competitive. Tourism can also bring income from outside a community, fueling growth from the outside in. Yes, communities should be careful, but not fearful or paranoid… outside influence can have tremendous positive impacts on a local economy and local culture.
As important as shopping local and local pride is, no person and no community can reach its full potential without outside collaboration. Finding the balance, finding the common ground between feeling local pride and accepting unique outside perspectives is how we can all maximize our community’s potential. Obviously, this is not an easy task, but it is one that a well informed community can make together for a more vibrant, diverse tomorrow.