Rely On Renton Family Fair Joins Annual Downtown Spring Celebrations By Amanda Liddle May 2, 2013 Renton, WA– Adding an event to the 11th Annual Renton Spring Festival and Downtown Poker Run, Rely On Renton community campaign managers, Ian & Amanda Liddle, are hosting a
Speed of Travel rushing, speeding, polluting always moving, looking ahead never seeing the beautiful, the fragile, the distinctive collection of small growing things trampled underfoot slow down, stop, look around the beautiful, the fragile, the elements of place can grow again once we begin
For Valentine’s Day, Ian and I decided to take to Downtown Renton to see what kinds of adventures we could have. First we stopped over at Garland Jewelers to get me a pretty little piece of jewelry. We made it at 5:45pm (which for
Ian and I moved a week ago. Moving is not my favorite project. I always start out determined to be organized, but by the end, you find yourself chucking random things into boxes. For instance, found in one box: a half-used bag of pecans, 2
The story of stone soup has inspired children to share for generations. Stone soup is that folk tale of people with limited resources not realizing the value of the resources that they actually have. A leader inspired them to bring together their most abundant, but overlooked, resources to create something of higher value. I have lots of carrots, someone else has lots of onions and potatoes, put them together with some water and voila: stew. The villagers were starving before they brought their goods together and shared them. Afterward they were feasting. Moral: Your resources are more valuable when you share them with your community.
The second tale is one of a community library. Ten people had one book they which they had read multiple times. To each person, this book was an “old favorite.” Alas, they longed for new knowledge. One villager began to talk to others about this book they had, and found that others felt the same. Ten decided to put their books together into a library. INSTANTLY they had access to TEN different books, nine of which were new to them. Furthermore, the news began to spread about having access to many books, and other people sought to contribute their one book to the library, in order to have access to an increasingly valuable library. Moral: Your resources can be many times more valuable when you share them with your community.
In the first story, the quality of what was put in increased, but the quantity remained the same. In the second story, you put a little in and get a lot out. The quantity and value of the collective contribution to the library was exponential. The difference lies in what kinds of good area shared: tangible versus intangible, consumable vs non-consumable.
The Damaging Lie of Scarcity
I’m hearing this all over town, “This down economy has been really hard on me and my family. I’m just hunkering down and looking after myself right now.” This mindset, driven by fear and a focus on scarcity, says that sharing will reduce availability of scarce resources and therefore increase suffering. They seem to have bought the lie that resources in our community are limited in quantity and quality. There are many ways this mindset damages our community:
- Scarcity discourages community involvement, because of perceived limited ability to affect change. “I’m only one person! What can I do by myself?”
- Scarcity creates fear of one another. A scarcity mindset views neighbors as potential enemies: people who can make your resources less available to you and your family.
- Scarcity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scarcity inspires hoarding. Hoarding resources means that your resources are not available for use by you or the community around you, which is functionally scarcity. It reminds me of a line from a song I learned in elementary school: “Love is like a magic penny. Hold it tight you won’t have any. Lend it, spend it you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor!”
Wikipedia defines “tragedy of the commons” as “the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one’s self-interest, despite their understanding that depleting the common resource is contrary to their long-term best interests.” Tragedy of the commons is natural to people acting out of fear and scarcity mentality. Thankfully we are not bound by our base natures. We can rise above and experience the power that collaboration brings: triumph, rather than tragedy, of the commons.
In an economy where the money and material possessions are the only measure of value, it’s easy to be trapped by a scarcity mentality. The truth is that our collective resources as a community are vast. We need to put money and material wealth in it’s place: it’s just one of many tangible and intangible resources that we have to invest.
Let’s look at what is possible when a modern community collectively invests tangible resources: a twenty-first century stone soup. Kickstarter is a great example of crowd-funding. Community members contribute small amounts of money and collectively fund new creative projects like movies, games, music albums, etc. Crowd-funding has also been used to open local businesses like pubs, bookstores, and food co-ops. This model has amazing implications for the city of Renton. What could we build together? The sky is the limit!
The resources we think less often about are our intangible ones. Our knowledge, and expertise, and circle of friends, are some of our intangible resources. Scarcity says that sharing knowledge and expertise freely will reduce the value of your paid service. On the contrary, sharing tips sets you apart as an expert in your field. The trust created when you share information freely helps people remember you when they have need of your service. It also builds relationship, which enhances customer loyalty.
Shopping Small is Sharing
Shopping at small, locally owned businesses is one way you can share with your community, and you don’t have to spend any more money than you would if you shopped at a big box or chain store! For instance, let’s say you want to have a night out with your sweetheart, (it could happen…right?) You have a choice to spend your money at a unique, locally owned place, or the bland, ubiquitous chain. Does it really make a difference? The answer is definitively yes! Recent studies show that when you choose a local company, more money stays in your local economy.That money, rather than being consumed one time, and leaving our economy forever, circulates here. It is like the book in the community library, which is loaned out time and time again to other community members. The more people who do this, the more money will be available to pay you as well! Jobs are created, small businesses flourish, the economy improves.
Another way the money benefits you multiple times is by tax dollars at work. I don’t know anyone who really likes paying sales tax. That being said, if you have to pay it, it may as well go to support amenities that you will take advantage of, right? When you spend money in your city of residence, your tax dollars go to fund parks, schools, roads, libraries and other great features and amenities that you actually use.
The holiday is a season of giving and sharing. Take time to recognize your assets and be thankful for them. Think about how much more they could do for you if you invested them in your community. Choose local.
Please join us for a follow up to the Fixing the Future movie event. There will be good food and good company to discuss doing some good around Renton. We want to discuss how what we can do to improve our local economy, spurred on by the inspiration found in the Fixing the Future film. Recognizing that supporting small businesses is a large part of our local economy, we also want to talk about how help small businesses thrive around town.
Fixing Renton’s Future Meeting
January 19th, 2013 1:00-3:00pm
$10 for buffet lunch
I love so many things about the holidays: traditions, giving, special food, spending time with family… For a lot of people connected to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the holidays will have another association from this year forward. Whenever their family meets, there will be a void. Losing a family member is like that. It’s never quite the same without them.
Here in Renton, people are reviving old political arguments about gun control and health care. They are telling one another to hug their children tightly, and remember the good that is in the world. In times like these, things like that feel important. However, in acknowledging Connecticut’s monumental loss, are we forgetting all our Renton neighbors whose holidays are forever changed because of incidents of fatal violence this year in Renton?
I know that problems like violent crime rarely have one cause, and therefore don’t have a single simple solution. What I do know is that you have to start somewhere. You have to take the next step first.
A randomized controlled trial published in August by the journal, Injury Prevention, suggests that “greening” empty lots results in reduced violence in areas surrounding the lots. It makes sense to me. When trash lays around, and weeds go unchecked it says to passers-by, “No one cares about this area. No one will see …” Crime thrives in dark, hidden, abandoned areas. On the other hand, another article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology says that green spaces are shown to reduce violent crime in the surrounding area, and reduce stress and allow for more exercise for those who live and work in the area.
What would change if we picked up trash, and planted some grass and trees in empty lots? Would people feel safer in Downtown Renton if it looked more “cared for”? Would more people begin to care about Renton because Renton looked more cared for? (?!?) Would crime rates go down in Renton because more people were out walking and enjoying empty lots-turned-pocket-parks, gardens, and other beautiful public spaces? We will never know until we try.
Would you like to be involved in a discussion about creating pocket parks and other improvements around Renton? There are lots of great places to get involved. The City of Renton’s Neighborhood Program provides grants to various neighborhood associations for improving of their specific neighborhood. The brand new Fixing Renton Forum is an online community dedicated to facilitating discussion about improving Renton’s outlook starting at a grassroots level. As a follow up to last week’s Fixing the Future film screening and community forum event, a community meeting is scheduled for January 19th at 1pm at Blossom Vegetarian.
We are bringing Fixing the Future here because we believe Renton is ready for change. I hear a lot of people complain about their city. “Why doesn’t Renton do this?” and “Renton would be better if they…”
THEY. Who are they? If we want change we need to realize that “they” have their hands full, or things would be different. Change will come when we say, “Change starts with ME. I will commit to…”
What kind of community do we want? What are we doing to make that happen? What small change can you make today to steer Renton toward positive change?
Come to Fixing the Future and the Community Forum on Wednesday evening. Be inspired to affect great change by making small everyday choices. Meet other people who are willing to walk alongside you toward a brighter tomorrow.
The Renton screening of Fixing the Future will be happening on Wednesday December 12th at 7pm at Renton Civic Theater. A Community Forum will be held afterward at Harambee with Tickets for Fixing the Future at Renton Civic Theater are $9 and can be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets.
I made a word picture using “wordle,” an online app that takes the most used words of your blog or home page, and creates a picture with them. The more popular words are larger. I think illustrates our message succinctly. Enjoy!
In this blog post I want to talk about for-profit business, non-profit business, and the community. I apologize in advance that this is going to be a little “rant-y”, but I’ll try to keep it brief.
Take a minute and search the photo album of your mind. When I say, “business”, what do you think of? Enron? Monsanto? WalMart? Who is in the mental picture you conjure up when you think of a “business owner”? Gordon Gekko? Do you think of a white-haired man in a sharp pinstriped three-piece suit doing shady business deals in unseen back rooms?
As we have gotten out into the community trying to drum up some care about the future of Renton, we have discovered among residents a sense of mistrust of businesses in general. We have witnessed a common fear of being taken advantage of by businesses: that somehow having a business license means that you are the kind of person who is trying to achieve gain at another person’s loss.
We experienced an example of this the other day as we tried to post our “Fixing the Future” event poster at the Highlands Library. We are hosting this film event at Renton Civic Theater on 12/12/12 at 7pm to try to congregate Renton residents to give them hope in the future, and empower them to affect economic change. We were told that KCLS’s policy is that no for-profit business can post their events. Even though we are partnering with three non-profits (Renton Civic Theater, Sustainable Renton, and Harambee) to bring this event to the community, we were not allowed to post our event. The woman behind the desk, with a suspicious look on her face asked me, “Well, who is PROFITING from this event?”
I’m here to say that at this point, no one is “profiting.” We are offering this event at a risk to us: Me. My family. Our for-profit business is a sole proprietorship. We are bringing this event to Renton because we care, and we hope you do too. Our master plan, our “dark ulterior motive”? Make Renton a better place to live, work and play, because this is where we’re going to be, someday raise children, for the rest of our lives.
Most of us at one time or another have been hurt by businesses and/or business owners. The fact is that any transaction minus love equals harm. Businesses are run by people. Sometimes people make mistakes and cause hurt. There are some people who have been hurt so much that they lose their way, and only want to help themselves, at the expense of other people. Some of those people have for-profit business licenses. Some of them run non-profit businesses. Some of them aren’t business owners at all; they’re consumers.
There are three seeds of paradigm change that I want to plant in your mind.
1) Businesses are assets to the community. Ask anyone who lives in a very underdeveloped, rural area and they will tell you that businesses bring needed resources to your community. Places to purchase goods, places to sit and study, places to receive helpful services like medical care, dental care, tax help, etc. are essential to any community.
2) Small business owners are often members of the community in which they do business. They are your neighbors. They are the black single mom whose mom is sick in the hospital. They are the Honduran immigrant who is trying to get out of underpaid labor jobs to create a future for her family. They are the family breadwinner “reorganized” out of their high-powered corporate job and are now just trying to make ends meet by catalog sales of out of their home. These are some of the many faces of business owners.
3) Small businesses invest in the community. I have seen the most amazing community spirit among business owners. Recognizing their potential for positive impact on the community, most small businesses regular donate time, money, and/or products to local non-profits. Supporting small Renton businesses is voting with your money for support of local charities.
While I won’t go so far as to call all business owners Saints, if you look very closely, you will see tiny glowing halos over many of them. Ok maybe not. But really, they are working to bring needed goods and services to YOU: their neighbors. Next time you visit a small business around town, thank the owners, employees, etc. for being a needed part of their community. They’re doing it for Renton.
“Fixing the Future” is a PBS documentary film that will be screened at Renton Civic Theater on 12/12/12 at 7pm with a community forum at Harambee following. Admission is $9. Prior screenings, in Tacoma & Seattle, have resulted in packed houses. Advance tickets can be purchased at http://fixingthefuture.brownpapertickets.com. In Fixing the Future, host David Brancaccio, of public radio’s Marketplace and NOW on PBS, visits people and organizations across America that are attempting a revolution: the reinvention of the American economy. By featuring communities using sustainable and innovative approaches to create jobs and build prosperity, Fixing the Future inspires hope and renewal in a people overwhelmed by economic collapse.
Come out next Wednesday and join the conversation about how we can improve our economy while building community relationships. We would love to meet others who care about this community!
Faces light up with recognition when I walk into a number of small businesses around Renton; I’m known by name. It’s a refreshing experience, and one I realize I’ve been missing.
Our culture has a secret; it’s not that we love our technology, but that we long for true connection. We clamor for the latest gadget and social media program, then we “connect” to one another through it. Through technology our culture is the most connected we have ever been, and yet those connections are superficial and unfulfilling. Despite Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and myriads of other online communities, we are lonely and long for something more.
Remaining anonymous while shopping regularly at small, locally owned stores is nearly impossible. Small shops with few employees are counting on your business. Consequently they tend to remember you. Merchants are transformed from nameless faces, ignored behind the counter as you swipe your card, to real people, who contribute to your community by cultivating unique places to purchase goods and services to fulfill your needs and wants.
This is your neighborhood. What do you want out of it? Where are you shopping to make that happen?
Why waste gas and fight crowds to shop for the holidays? You don’t have to look any farther than our Renton community to find quality, unique, meaningful holiday gifts. Here are ten ways you can reduce stress and enjoy your holiday season while finding the perfect gift for loved ones.
1. Hand made gifts. When you give hand made gifts, you give a bit of yourself. Need ideas? Pinterest abounds with ideas for handmade gifts, and we’ve pinned a few to get your creative juices flowing. Don’t want to make it yourself? Consider the goods of many local artisans and crafters to be suitable alternatives.
2. Gift a service that you can do yourself. Think of a service that you can provide that will bring joy and/or relief to the ones you love. A few ideas are: one hour of housekeeping, one evening of babysitting, or one home made dinner delivered. For kids you could offer one hour of bubble blowing (see the tutorial for this easy homemade wand that makes epic sized bubbles), an afternoon of bike riding or crafting together, or one batch of home made cookies of their choice.
3. Gift services at locally owned businesses. You could give gifts for massages, manicures, or pedicures, but anyone can think of those. Why not give a helicopter ride, or tickets to Renton Civic Theater performances?
4. Gift a class together. Get creative, take a class. Right now “sipping and painting” services are very popular, and fun to do with friends or family. Glass Blowing or acting classes make great gifts for the person who has everything. The City of Renton’s What’s Happening booklet is full of classes that would make excellent gifts.
5. Gift a membership. Wine of the month club, anyone? There are several small independent wine stores with great deals on wine clubs. With the New Year right around the corner, membership to a local fitness center would be a welcome gift.
6. Donate in someone’s name. Make a contribution in your loved one’s name to their favorite local charity.
7. Gift a meal at a locally owned restaurant. It’s hard to think about gifting food during this season of overindulgence. Just remember that after the excitement of the holidays dies down, and the reality of our 9-month rainy season sets in, a meal at a local restaurant could be a nice distraction.
8. Buy gifts from locally owned businesses. Local businesses often have special or unique items you may never find anywhere else. Plus the staff will give you the attention to help you pick out the perfect gift that you may never receive at the big box store.
9. Buy from thrift shops, consignment stores, or used book/music stores. There is no shame in giving used gifts. As a matter of fact, it is quite green and trendy! If you’re looking for a truly unique gift, consider browsing one of our many antique stores, consignment shops, or used bookstores in downtown.
10. Use cash or debit cards, not credit. Whenever you can, use cash. Convenience aside, credit cards cut into the profits of local businesses by charging them for each transaction. If you must use your debit card, allow the merchant to choose “debit or credit” for themselves, as often one fee is higher than the other for them. Cash keeps more money in the local business person’s pocket so they can continue to thrive.
RelyLocal Renton is your resource to find a great service, restaurant, store, or consignment shop for that perfect holiday gift. You can find most anything on your holiday shopping list there! Be sure to look for the RelyLocal Renton logo on the door of your favorite local business.
How do you plan to keep the holidays local? We welcome your thoughts in the comments below.