Ecosystems + Economies

Four Ways to Love Your Community This Year

Like all relationships, loving our communities takes work and practice. So we identified four ways to love your community this Valentine's Day—and the other 364 days of the year.

It’s easy to think about love, especially on Valentine’s Day, as something that lives between two people.

But love is so much more than that.

We love entire groups of people as more than the sum of their parts—our families, our friendship circles, or our faith communities, for instance. We can meaningfully say that we love our pets, memories, and specific food dishes that remind us of home.

And we love our places—the communities we inhabit.

Just like our bonds with other people, our relationships with our communities have their ups and downs. You’ve probably experienced this tension, perhaps around your childhood house or the country you call home. 

As with all relationships, love for your community takes work and practice. So we identified four easy ways to show love to your community this Valentine’s Day—and the other 364 days of the year!

1. Start a Business.

We wouldn’t be CO.STARTERS if we didn’t put entrepreneurship at the top of the list!

Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities. Yes, they provide jobs and increase a community’s GDP (the traditionally recognized benefits of local businesses). But small businesses also create the intangibles that make people want to live in a specific place—unique storefronts, local food traditions, and innovative use of a community’s buildings and outdoor spaces.

There’s no better way to love your community than to contribute to its culture. Oftentimes, the reason some cities and towns suffer is because nothing new is happening in them. When people start things in a community, it makes everyone want to stay and start things too!

There's no better way to love your community than to contribute to its culture. When people start things in a community, it makes everyone want to stay and start things too!

2. Shop Your Community's Small Businesses

Not everyone can or should start their own business.

But if you have a job with a stable income, one of the best ways to love your community is to support the people who are taking the entrepreneurial plunge!

Unlike the first item on our list, this is something everyone can do on Valentine’s Day. Buy flowers and chocolates from your community’s florist and chocolatier. See a live show at a local venue. Purchase your cards from the stationary shop in town. And take your date to dinner at a family-owned restaurant.

Not only are you loving the owners and employees of the businesses you support, but you’ll discover new spots and haunts that lead you to enjoy your community even more.

3. Attend a Pitch Night.

You might not realize it, but there are organizations in your community working hard to support new businesses. Oftentimes, they will host pitch nights. 

These are events where members of the community can come hear new entrepreneurs speak about the businesses they want to start. If you enjoy being the early bird on new local ventures—or have the money to invest in a young, local business—attending a pitch night is a fantastic way to support your community.

Even if the pitch night doesn’t include a fundraising element, it’s important for new entrepreneurs’ morale to see that people are excited for new businesses and projects!

4. Vote in Your Local Elections

Local elections can be frustrating.

Researching each candidate and learning their positions on the issues you care about often takes more time and effort than in national or state elections.

But your local government makes a lot of decisions that affect you, your neighbors, and the businesses in your community. Zoning policies, licensing laws, labor regulations, and public works projects are just a few of the many ways local governments impact community life.

Taking just an hour or two out of your day to stay informed on the candidates in your local elections will make you feel more ingrained in the place you live.

Local elections also receive worse turnout than state-wide and national ones, so your potential impact is much higher at the local level!

(Bonus Round): Run a CO.STARTERS Cohort

If you want to support local entrepreneurs, there might be no better way than to bring CO.STARTERS to your community.

One of the biggest hurdles that faces new business owners is a lack of confidence and entrepreneurial know-how. Educational programs like CO.STARTERS make entrepreneurship feel achievable for any creative person with an idea.

We’re living through what some have dubbed the “Great Resignation.” But at CO.STARTERS, we think of it as a “Great Opportunity” to support these new makers, dreamers, and doers (whom we affectionately call “starters”).

Let’s love our communities a little extra this year. Choose something from this list, or use it as inspiration to show love your own way!

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