As I have been writing this “Building Main Street, not Wall Street” weekly column for the past couple years, I have been asked on more than one occasion, how we might sum up a message in one single column, or message? While summing the complete process and outline would be impossible in one message or one single column, let’s take a stab at summing up a message that might resonate.
While I touch on so many areas such as local communities, local businesses, local media, teamwork, processes, economic challenges, technology and much more as I write this column, let me try and sum up the main ingredients with four simple words. Those words are, educate, believe, unite, and transform. Let’s break this down a bit further by putting those four words in more practical terms.
Nothing great happens in a local community without knowledge, preferably widespread knowledge. To promote this knowledge that will lead to transformation, education must reach a vast number of the residents within a community. The community educational process is never easy but is what we might refer to as the foundation of any transformation. We must educate the community as to better understand what is at stake, what is possible, and what it means to be truly local. When communities grasp the importance of the truly local mentality, you know your education is making inroads for change.
With effective education comes a widespread belief. With widespread belief, comes widespread hope. With widespread hope, comes widespread excitement. With widespread excitement, comes widespread action. As you can see, effective education leads to widespread belief which then leads to all the ingredients needed for the next important steps of the journey. On the other side of the equation, without widespread belief, education proves to be in vain and a waste of time. Never underestimate the power of hope and belief, miracles can happen when putting that belief into action.
Once communities have conquered the elements of education and belief, they come to the most important element of all – that of uniting in a common cause and mission. Once education is effectively spread far and wide and you have a community with many excited believers, it then becomes paramount those believers unite in the common cause of setting goals and taking action. This is the step that usually proves the most challenging. At the same time, those communities making the transition from the second step or phase to the third phase are the communities that will prosper into the future.
Uniting is an action word, not a passive word. When communities unite, they are capable of great things. The sum of the total will always exceed the sum of the individual parts. I can’t stress enough the importance of this third phase. This is indeed the phase that separates most communities from greatness.
After local communities have navigated the first three steps, the groundwork and foundation have been laid for solid and sustainable transformation to begin. True transformation should be the goal of every community, for as you transform, you will feel and experience the excitement that comes from the vibrancy that is associated with active transformation.
I realize summing up the task of transforming a community into only four words really doesn’t do the task justice, it takes so much more than four words to revitalize and transform a community. Always remember and bear in mind, the journey of a thousand miles doesn’t happen overnight, it begins with the first step followed by the second and so forth. Remember, when you educate, you empower and instill belief, with that belief, uniting is possible, and when united in a common cause, miracles can and do happen every day.
John A. Newby is the author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street" weekly column dedicated to helping local communities keep their consumer dollars local. He can be reached by email at: john@360MediaAlliance.net.