What Lies Ahead
The coronavirus pandemic has taught us many things, and many more lessons still awaits us when this moment in our lifetime draws to its conclusion; but one thing that must be addressed going forward is the need to handle community concerns in time of both crisis and peace. Therefore, there are several concerns that must be resolved if our communities, our way of life, will carry on into the future. In other words, we must know this simple truth. . .
Knowing What is Essential, and What is Not
The challenge going forward is this one edict which can be answered with a basic question: How long can you live without something? This is what it means to be "essential" in the eyes of some individuals. That said, there are varying degrees of "essentials" that changes as people have different belief systems of what they need. "Essentials" will always satisfy and supply a need; much like how God supplies our need according to his riches and glory...yes, I said it.
But more importantly, what falls under "Essential" to the community? It best can be summed up by the very Preamble of our Constitution of the United States:
- Form a More Perfect Union
- Establish Justice
- Ensure Domestic Tranquility
- Provide for the Common Defense
- Promote the General Welfare
- Ensure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity
It can also be attributed to these three principles:
- Pursuit of Happiness
The final attribute varies from person to person, but the most critical one is that of life; we can go without a few amenities, but it means nothing to those that have their lives at risk; survival is that simple. That said, we make the effort to have as many of our fellow citizens survive; that is the mark of a community.
Without People, There IS No Community
Let's just get this out of the way now; without people, you have no community. Without people, you have no city, town, or municipality. People need to feel like they have a home and that those in the community they live in are of the same mind to provide a home for those around them.
Ghost Towns are a reminder of when people are neglected, they will leave that neglect behind.
So in order for us to see the challenges that lie ahead, We the People must be taken care of. This isn't just limited to keeping citizens healthy and able to access to medicine alone; this is vital to the community's survival even in the best of times. The next set of challenges will also come down to how we can support local businesses while they, in turn, support us.
This requires all forms of entrepreneurship to provide a means to which we can live off the services and good provided by our work. If the work is not properly compensated, you run the risk of quality diminishing; however, therein lies the burden business owners face: what qualifies a living wage, and how can you provide that along with meeting business obligations, including the safety of the workers? That is something all business owners must wrestle with, but those that find the proper balance going forward will be the ones to help aid the community.
Simply returning to the status quo prior to this crisis will only make the situation as unstable as it is now. As one man put it: "This [situation] has torn open the veil..." of many problems that we have been plagued to over the years. In order to move forward, we the People must make strides to learn from them, adjustments to prevent their resurfacing, and constant vigilance towards a better tomorrow for all.
Buy, Sell, and Work Local
IF ever there was a time for that hometown spirit, this is it. We see it already as communities across the world are supporting one another; proving there is hope in humanity, keeping any naysayers at bay. That said, another way to support those around us is simply buying more local items in their respective communities. This is not to say you shouldn't buy outside of this, but it helps with people getting back on their feet at the local level upon which you live in. It also opens up opportunity to get to know your hometown, even get a hometown feeling again.
For businesses themselves, this proves as a golden opportunity to further define your business in the area by providing goods and services that serve the local area. Do you have delivery or carry-out options? Can you use items found in the area and sell them at reasonable prices? Are there ways to build marketing strategies tailored to the location? The sky's the limit in reaching new people around town while also growing your business at a sound pace; it only becomes harrowing when the business becomes too large to the point that you cannot sustain it, or that you must maintain supervision over it extensively. That however, is a different topic of discussion for another time.
Finally, the time has come to see more of the community working locally close to home. That's not to say we should completely abandon the Wal-Marts and Amazons of the world, but if the community is to see the improvements that town needs, it needs more businesses providing tax revenue to that community so that key infrastructure can be handled in a timely manner. Yes, I said tax revenue, as that is needed for roads, schools, hospitals, and local authorities/amenities to work. There is much that is needed to keep a community going, so working locally can allow that funding to better serve the community and grow from that point.
Improving Local Residences and Living Centers
"Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."
Now more than ever, having better residences and living quarters will prove a community has improved. While this will not be a quick or easy improvement, it is a necessary one. This will require both a willing group of people that offer services that are affordable for homeowners/renters/apartment tenants, but also these same people making sure their place of residence and living centers are always in the best of conditions.
- Updated housing practices for better living conditions. This boils down to building better and more economically friendly homes. The less bells and whistles attached to them, the better off the homeowner will be; that said, if that same potential homeowner wants a larger home, they recognize it will cost more. The overarching goal is to get homeless down to a near zero level, and keep housing affordable while being as accommodating as possible. To be fair, it's easy to say this in an article and a nightmare to put into practice, but it is still necessary.
- Living Centers that are not a health risk. This pandemic has shown that our elder population need to be better cared for, and these facilities will need severe improvements, or if living with family members is possible, better facilitation with local centers that can give the option to be with loved ones and still allow for the independence that elders seek, even in the eve of their lifetimes. Finally, gathering a care group that will work towards ensuring the place these people live in shall be healthy for them should be considered for this to work.
- Apartments for all incomes. Having these places can help with homelessness, while also giving these same people a place to build their financial strength while giving them a place of belonging and community. Another possibility is to create small homes and make them into apartments in and of themselves...well, that's more a rental home, but the idea is the same. Kinda.
As you can see, there are options to choose from, so how a community goes about it will be a challenge that must be addressed and resolved going forward. The communities that do this and do this seriously will see improvement around them.
Hold Local, Regional Leaders to Account
What this crisis has shown is that there are those that need to be in positions of government, and those that do not. Starting with the local governments (city mayors, councilmembers, judges, etc.), and working our way upward will further ensure that the need for community concerns being addressed will always remain at the forefront of these leaders' minds. We are all in this together, regardless of affiliation, and there are times that demand that leaders disregard political preferences to preserve, protect and defend the lives under their charge.
We, the People, must always hold our leaders to account; not just to question their fitness, but to ensure they are going to provide their best efforts to the community as a whole. It helps no one to continue political infighting when all are at risk. Our leaders must remember this; or risk losing their place in leadership.
This means staying informed of our city councils and meetings involving the members. To be fair, these meetings are pretty boring, but this boredom is something that must be accepted as these topics are vital to the success of a community. Our leaders have to see us as often as possible to keep themselves in line to ensure the concerns we have for our community are always met.
Finally, we must hold our leaders accountable with the most powerful tool in our arsenal, our right to vote. This must be done each and every time to remind them of why they are here. When we fail to vote with purpose, we allow disparity to reign; so consciously vote for the candidate that will best serve the community and hold all elected officials to account at all times. You can also check to see if you are registered to vote by going to Vote.org or contacting your local registering place and begin the process to vote if you have not done so.
Take Part in Community Events as Often as Possible
Know of any local events and concerts? Go to them! Not just the major players or nationally known. Those come a little later. I'm talking about local artisans and musicians showcases their talents. You can also go to local museums and art/trade shows throughout your community. Take a moment to get acquainted to your community's local events.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Go to your local library. This is the most common place to find out about events that take place in the community. These can range from simple concerts to book events, or even galleries that take place.
- For work in your location, go to an employment opportunity center. Along with workshops and leads on upcoming job placements, there are ways to network with businesses that can help bolster a stronger economic presence.
- Look to local television and classified ads in the local newspaper. Getting the lay of the land in your local area is going to be vital to help rebuild that area, and that requires you to stay informed with news and new ads in the paper.
- Get involved in a local recreational center. Most events around town have a rec center or two involved in them; so it helps to keep that sense of activity up by going there and supporting local teams and tournaments. In fact, you can possibly setup a few things there.
- Support local food banks. This is relatively easy in that you can supply any canned goods or non-perishable foods to these banks. Keeping them well-stocked allows for communities to handle shortages in a timely manner.
- Creation of community resource areas. This is in reference to community gardens and farmlands that can produce food and the like; the challenge here is not only allocating land, but also to provide upkeep from litter and such. It's not an issue for squatter per se, but they do have to help with maintaining that area, along with what food to grow.
There's much to offer in ways that can benefit the community while being active in it. Be aware that you cannot be everywhere in your community, so choose wisely in what aspect you wish to endorse and see to it that it continues to be beneficial.
Getting the Hometown Back to Speed
We'll get through this; I'm sure of it. But as we slowly get our stride again, we have to help out with the community to make it better than before and become more active than before. Start with local businesses that you truly desire to help. Then participate in local events. Finally, make sure the leadership we put in place are working for all of us in the community and not just a few.
That's how we overcome this challenge and come out of it much, MUCH stronger than before.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Michael Rivers