A Gallup Poll in the past few years uncovered a significant link between the emotional attachment residents feel toward their community and economic growth. The more emotionally attached we are to our community, the more likely we are to make our home here, spend our money here and if possible work here.
A large part of our attachment to this community can be found in our downtowns, called the “soul of the community” by the Gallup Poll. Three dimensions of community life are important in fostering our emotional attachments: they are openness, social offerings and aesthetics.
Whether you live in Rockingham, Hamlet, Ellerbe or another of our small towns in Richmond County you can reflect on these three things in relation to your community. Openness means whether all people feel welcome in your town. Are there enough social offerings for new people to meet others and for the residents to socialize? How attractive is your town? Are there parks, trails and other attractive elements?
You may be reading this and reflecting about your town and how much you love it! Or you may be thinking of areas of improvement that would really enhance your town. There are things all of us can do to make our towns more attractive, more friendly and better places to live, shop and work.
1. Talk about your town in a positive way. Since moving here, I have had many people ask me why I would move to Richmond County! It is such a beautiful and friendly place that this surprises me each time. Encourage people to visit us and tell them about the great things happening here.
2. Volunteer. There is a great need in this community for what community development folks call citizen engagement. The old saying that 80 percent of the work is being done by 20 percent of the people seems to ring true sometimes. The next time someone asks you to serve on a committee, lead a task force, participate in a survey or focus group, consider doing it! Or start something new in your neighborhood, like a social event or cleanup day.
3. Get Involved. If you are interested in improvements in Rockingham you should join the Rockingham Downtown Corporation for lunch. This group has been meeting for years together and has accomplished many things for downtown, such as sponsoring Christmas On The Square and assisting the City with improvements. Their mission is to improve, preserve and promote downtown Rockingham. Other towns may have similar groups as well.
The next meeting of the Rockingham Downtown Corporation will be held on Tuesday, March 18 at noon at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension Office at 123 Caroline St. If you are interested in attending, either just show up (and bring your lunch) or call 910-997-8255 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make lunch arrangements.
Everyone, regardless of where they live or work is encouraged to attend and all downtown merchants should consider becoming active in this group.