How do you measure success? Is it the percentage of jobs in the local economy that exist in locally owned businesses? Or is it the ability for your community to be self-reliant for things such as food, shelter, energy, and water? Do you look for vibrant businesses that understand community support is more than donating a check once a year to a non-profit? Do you look at activities available for youth in the community? Or are there other factors in your measurement of success like a vibrant arts community, deep relationships between neighbors, a system of support when there is someone in need, diversity, walkability, a sense of place?
Hopefully your measure of success is not just about what you are doing, but rather how your community is doing. Looking at Rockingham County I can tell you that we have a lot of success. We still have work to do, but our community is strong and our systems of support are forming if not already in place. In downtown Harrisonburg, there is a support system for businesses that offers many ways to celebrate your business successes as well as support your daily operations. The Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is more than just a network of businesses, it is a tool to promoting and feeding success in the downtown community. The local food network, already vibrant with the success of the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, the Broadway Farmer’s Market, True and Essential Meats, Shank’s Bakery, the Little Grill, has now grown to include the Friendly City Food Co-op. There is a sense of community that is tied together through religious heritage, through school loyalty, through generation after generation running the family business. There is a support network for the homeless, for children, for immigrants. We are a community living together and looking for ways to support each other.
So what do you think we are missing in our community that will bring more success? What do you need from the community? How can we bring the vibrance that is being experienced in downtown Harrisonburg to all the surrounding communities in the Valley? How can we become a self-reliant community that produces the energy, food, and resources that we need to survive? I believe we need to pull together and work towards a sustainable future to continue our success. We need a holistic vision that we all know, understand, and work towards to have a truly successful community. We need to look at success through the eyes of our neighbors and not just what we need individually.
It is time for our community to focus on the ‘sense of place’ that is Rockingham County. We need to support local businesses that keep the money and resources in our community. We need to lift up our neighbors and offer a hand when they are in need. So what did you do today to pay it forward and grow more success for our community?