Local Economies Thrive When…

Local Economies Thrive When…

A few weeks ago, the following was posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts:

“Cities thrive when neighborhoods thrive. Neighborhoods thrive when there is a healthy local economy.  Local economies thrive when…”

What was supposed to be posted was this:

“Cities thrive when neighborhoods thrive. Neighborhoods thrive when there is a healthy local economy.  Local economies thrive when we invest in locally owned businesses.”

I was using Hootsuit to post on both Facebook and Twitter and it truncated my Facebook post to 140 characters.

Not realizing that I had intended to post a complete quote my Facebook friends wrote their own ending to the sentence.  Here are the responses:

 … people are paid a living wage for honest work.

… individuals are empowered emotionally, intellectually, relationally, spiritually and financially.

…we invest in people.

…Indigenous people are given a voice and an audience of neighbors, neighborhoods, and cities.

…we love God and love our neighbors.

What I find most interesting is how many different interpretations there were of how the sentence should end.  Even more fascinating is that none of the individuals who posted tied the health of a local economy to the health of local businesses.

Our newest community development effort along Brookland Park Boulevard is a struggling commercial corridor that runs through a mixed income neighborhood.  The neighborhood its self has a lot to offer and is far healthier than the commercial corridor.  My goal in posting my version of the quote was to encourage people to think about the commercial space and the small businesses in the neighborhood as a vital part of a thriving neighborhood.

When we invest in locally owned, neighborhood based businesses, our dollars have a far greater impact on the local economy than when we shop at businesses that are not locally owned.  So when I choose to eat lunch at From the Heart which is located on Brookland Park instead of McDonalds on the nearby commercial strip, my money supports Francis, a local business owner.  Francis uses my money to pay her rent and to hire local residents to work in the restaurant.  This helps Brookland Park Boulevard by lowering vacancy rates and it helps the neighborhood by increasing employment rates.  If I were to go to McDonalds, the majority of the funds leave the neighborhood and go to the corporate headquarters. Because the dollars stay in the neighborhood, my purchases are fueling the local economy and strengthening our neighborhood.

In 2014 Embrace Richmond will be partnering extensively with the local merchants along Brookland Park Boulevard and you will have an opportunity to see why I love this place and these people so much.   I pray you will all be a part of the transformation by shopping at the businesses we will be featuring through our upcoming “100 Ways to Experience the Transformation” campaign.  This campaign is a project of the Brookland Park Area Association that is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Brookland Park Boulevard.  We are honored to be a part of this effort.   Please show your support by liking the BPAA Facebook page BrooklandparkRVA and watch for featured businesses and special events and offers throughout 2014.

So, how would you finish this sentence?

“Cities thrive when neighborhoods thrive. Neighborhoods thrive when there is a healthy local economy. Local economies thrive when…”




  1. Wendy…Why have you yet to reach out to neighborhood associations? (i.e. Battery Park) Seems to me that your whole focus is on how is wrong and not seeing the opportunities that are right in front of you.

    All I see that you are doing is trying to figure out to get federal money/grants. Try to get to know your neighbors, the people the live in the community, the new and old.

    • Hi Richard,

      We are working very closely with the Brookland Park Area Association (the merchants association made up of local merchants) and have been members for more than a year. We host their monthly meetings, I serve on the executive team and we have done numerous things to support their efforts.

      I would love to get involved with the Battery Park Association as well as North Central and the other surrounding neighborhood associations. We started with the merchants association because it is the one that has the highest vested interest in seeing Brookland Park thrive. It is not that I am resistant to the neighborhood associations, it is more a capacity issue. We are a small organization and I try to attend every meeting I can. Can you give me the dates and location of your upcoming meetings and I will try my best to attend?

      As it relates to your comment about federal funding, you need to know that I turned down $150,000 in federal funding last year because I don’t believe it is worth the strings it comes with. So, despite your accusation, that is not my motive. I have found that ordinary people working for the common good is a far better and sustainable approach to neighborhood strengthening.

      I also think you should be aware that we have many neighbors, merchants and others that we are working alongside. Of course we could always use more people who care about the area. We are continuously reaching out to anyone who cares enough to get involved. Our volunteers include those who have lived in the area more than 50 years and those like me who have lived in the community a short time.

      If you would like to get to know more about what we are actually doing, I would love to meet with you and show you what we already have in the works and introduce you to the neighbors who we are supporting in their efforts to revitalize Brookland Park Boulevard.


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