In January I released the Micropolitan Manifesto.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, if anything.
Thanks to you it’s been downloaded and shared more than 2,000 times this year. Amazing! It’s been featured on mainstream sites like Forbes and Sustainable Cities Collective—even in comments at The Washington Post! Even better, its been shared on a personal level: on blogs and between individuals. I’ve met some amazing people because of it, from South Carolina to Indiana to Washington State—and across Canada.
I’m happy this document continues to spark conversation online and off about indie business transforming our smallest cities. Take a changing economy and add technology, and we’re entering an exciting, transformative — and sometimes scary – period that allows more of us to contribute to a happier and healthier world in a real and tangible way.
Tangible, as in brick-and-mortar. Main Street.
Intangible, as in community. Your community.
Why do I say “happier and healthier”? By investing in Main Street we’re also investing in the renewal of our downtowns, of our local economy, and our local identity. We’re fostering community while using our creativity. We’re solidifying our own financial futures instead of being a disposable number on someone else’s balance sheet.
This is very important work. It’s even fun.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Indie business is difficult. Add a physical storefront?
Owning an indie business anywhere can make you feel like you’re on the path alone. It’s exhausting. You give it your all and still question why you even bother.
When the “why bother” moment struck me I had to think bigger. WHY? Why does building a business matter? To me? To my community? To anyone?
I poured the reasons that were compelling to me into that short .pdf. The “Micropolitan Manifesto” took off.
Then I got scared.
Who am I to have an opinion on how our cities should work? Or talk about Main Street reinvention and revitalization? Or indie business, for that matter? Surely others are more qualified, right? My fears multiplied and so did the internal voice we all have that whispers,
“Who are you to do that?”
So I tried my best to ignore it. Besides, “I’m busy!” I did what I normally do and got back to work:
Building my business.
Being active in my community.
Yet the questions persisted…
“You can only survive on high fives and fun for so long.”
The skateboard shop next us recently announced they are closing. “Why are you closing?” asked a Facebook fan. The answer: “You can only survive on high fives and fun for so long.”
There are indie businesses out there that need help.
The skate shop played an important role in our community.
It’s disappearing at the end of the month.
What happens to the people it serves?
It’s a loss.
Over the last six months I realized I couldn’t run from my own words.
Platitudes are fine—everyone wants to “support local business.” What is needed is ACTION. Share what works. Share what doesn’t. That’s why we’ve got to hang together. We need to connect with others on the same journey. Connect—not to whiners who complain, but the people who are determining their own path Against.All.Odds. The people who are doing amazing things, and whose actions are reshaping our cities and our local economies. These people—our people—are Making.It.Happen.
I don’t know much about building a sustainable city (beyond permaculture and revitalizing our walkable infrastructure). I don’t know every strategy for revitalizing Main Street (beyond what I’ve tried and observed). I’m still learning how to run a specialty grocery/cafe/beer garden (beyond what I’ve successfully done). But what I do know, beyond a doubt is this:
There is always opportunity present for the bold, daring, and determined!
That is why, after six months of soul-searching, I’ve decided that I absolutely cannot “take back” the Micropolitan Manifesto and return to “business as usual.” I believe our smallest cities—and the artists, changemakers, entrepreneurs within—need to connect. Must connect.
We need each other.
I invite the bold, the daring, and the determined out there to join me. You can start by reading and sharing the Micropolitan Manifesto (if you haven’t already).
Then… roll up your sleeves. We’ve got important work to do! Start by telling me in the comments below about your indie businesses or your micropolitan. What’s your greatest challenge right now?
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