11/17/2012

7 Ways to Get to Know Your Community


        

            1. Don’t get there in a hurry
My number one tip is to take your time getting from point A to point B, and above all, avoid the interstate if you can. Drive city streets for longer treks, walk or bike for shorter ones. This way you not only know what is at point A and point B, but you also know everything between. You know the businesses and neighborhoods, the bus stops, the events, and how the area changes over time. You see when new restaurants and shops open, when it’s bike night at the bar, when buildings are being renovated, when homes are for sale. If it’s a route you take often you grow accustomed to the place. You KNOW that street, you know that man that sits at a certain bus stop and the dog that barks from a certain yard. You know the quickest way to trip chain if you want to pick up pizza on the way home and you know exactly when the church opens its pumpkin patch sale. If you were on the highway or the expressway, you’d miss it all. 

2. Read signs
This seems like common sense, but how many people do it? Stop and read the posters and the fliers. Stop and read the historical placards. Read the event postings on the marquis and bulletin boards. Skim the business cards.  Read the cornerstones on old buildings. If it’s there and the building isn’t on fire, read it. It only takes a second or two.
  
3. Make it a point to do something different
Change up the routine once in a while (or a lot); try a different coffee shop, café, or route home.
  
4. Go Local (AKA, Make the box store your second option rather than your first)
When I was growing up, our first option was always the major chain retailers and restaurants. We only went to other businesses or local establishments if what we wanted was unavailable in the box stores. It was, in fact, harder to shop local because our house was surrounded by box stores.  I also lived for a couple of years in a small town where options were really limited… it was often Walmart or nothing.  I would never want to shop that way again. Sometimes I still do it when they have the products I need, but more and more often now I leave in frustration when the gigantic box store does not, in fact, have what I want. My success is better if I know the exact spiffy small business that caters to me, rather than just hitting the one giant business that tries to have a little bit for everyone. Plus, I get the fun of treasure hunting for the exact perfect place for curry, or the perfect cup of joe, the perfect pair of wooly socks, and once I’ve found the place, that’s it. The search is over, and it’s as easy to find and get to as the box store ever was. And I learned so much more about my town along the way.

5. Browse local publications
You know those free community publications that are often in racks in the businesses you pass? You don’t have to read the whole thing to get a feel for what’s happening in the community – even a quick flip through to skim the headlines and bold font could be beneficial.
  
6. Hook up with people of similar interests
This is another that should have been obvious, but wasn’t for me. I stumbled upon it on accident. Obviously if you know someone who knows someone who knows what’s going on, and people know that it’s an interest of yours, the information is likely to reach you. And then you will hear about art openings that don’t have a budget for advertisements, small performances by artists without a PR team, sports events that aren’t big enough to make it into the news… And I mean social networking in person. Not just Facebook! Still not my strength, but I know how to do it. This is easiest with interests that I’m most passionate about.

7. Sign up for newsletters
If I am very busy, I don’t even read the newsletters that are in my inbox. I just delete them. But if I have free time I’d like to fill or if I’m looking for some specific information, I’ll open them and scan what they send me.

2 comments:

Lisa Sharp said...

Great tips! I've shared this on the site I run Green Oklahoma's Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/greenoklahoma

Alien Mind Girl said...

Glad you liked it - thanks for sharing!