Many communities in America are facing an unprecedented budget deficit. Many counties and cities are forced with looking at cutting services and reducing employees. The foreclosure epidemic has hit many communities very hard and what makes things worse is that banks are not doing their part to maintain the properties that they have in these communities. It makes the community look worse and it depresses the overall market. On top of all this, many people in the community, instead of looking at how they can help, feel powerless and often look at moving to a better area. This is a horrible cycle and it will continue to decimate communities unless something is done.
Many communities are waiting for the market to improve and hoping that this will bring back their community. I have a better solution, one that helps the community in several ways and will bring new families into the area. Let me explain.
I think that you can reverse this downward cycle by community leaders taking an indirect route to improve the community. I think that by creating situations that increase community involvement you can transform communities that are suffering into communities that are thriving and desired. Let’s look at some quick facts. People choose communities to live in for a number of reasons such as school system, community programs, and well-kept homes. All of these items are things that are ultimately controlled by all the people in that area. If your area is suffering from a mass exodus of people then you should look at improving these basic systems and people will desire to return.
I think communities should intact an initiative program that gives people incentives to be active in their community. Every person in a community has a particular skill. If you could get some of these people to start using their skill to help the community then you would quickly improve the community because you would have something that many other communities don’t have. For example, get retired teachers in the area to give an hour or so each week to help with a free tutoring class for struggling students at the library. Get a student who is active in sports to help coach a junior sport club on the weekend. Get a retired business executive to offer business advice to young entrepreneurs at the local library. You can even take people who don’t have a particular skill and get them to help with community clean up initiatives or different needed task around the community.
Now you may ask yourself, why these people would help the community. Well the simple answer is that you bribe them to do so. As the community leader, you give them discounts to community fees or have community volunteer only events. You can also give them recognition in community papers and at open community events. By bribing them with reducing fees on community services, you will get many people who are eager to save a dollar to commit alone.
So let’s look at the effect of this community involvement. The community leader wins because he gets to tout a new community involvement program and show how he or she is making the community stronger. The community itself wins because with new free services many people will hear about these services by word of mouth and thru community bragging. This will in turn make the community more desirable and increase the number of people who want to move into the community. In addition, the volunteers win because they get reduced fees on services. They will get to know people in the community they otherwise were unable to meet, and they may find a certain level of fulfillment and community pride by volunteering in the community. They may even chose to volunteer next time without being bribed. Hence, increasing overall community involvement and strengthening community ties.
This is a great cost-effective way for communities to become stronger and for them to stop the cycle of losing quality residents. Now next week, I will tackle county taxes….I think!
Until next week, good luck and God bless.
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