I have been back in Northampton, my hometown, from New York for about six years now, and the power of “in the community” has never resonated stronger in me than it does today. After working in New York City for 30 years, immediately I felt that community is alive and well in so many ways in the Pioneer Valley. Yet this year the feeling has become tangibly amplified.
Since the beginning of 2017, I have witnessed the power of community on a personal level, on a business level and on, well, a community level.
Northampton Chamber Board Membership
The year started with me attending my first meeting as a new member of the board of directors of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Membership breeds engagement. As a member of the Chamber since 2011, I am finding that the more I am involved, the more my business opportunities have grown.
For example, earlier in this quarter, former and prospective clients have informally reconnected with me or members of my creative partnership, The Creative, at networking events which has evolved into new business. Prospective clients have asked The Creative to offer proposals on major new business, and when asked how they heard about us the answer is, “Oh, I’ve seen you at Chamber events.” And the best news is that we are winning those competitive bids!
That’s the power of community at work in my business.
Live Jazz in Easthampton
Coming off the premiere Easthampton Jazz Festival held at the beginning of March, for which I provided PR, media and communications support, I witnessed the power of a small community of organizers, volunteers, sponsors, musicians, and reuse artists each doing their part to make this a highly successful, first-time, mid-winter, 10-hour, indoor jazz festival with hundreds of people of all ages and walks of life enjoying the inspiring music we call live jazz.
That’s the power of community at work in the arts.
Rebuilding in Conway
The historic tornado that struck Conway, Mass. on the eve of February 25 caused a devastating blow to hundreds of residents and community members throughout that Hilltown region. Neighbors helped neighbors to restore roads, homes, and safety in the town, but the power of an outside, intangible community was at work, too.
When NEPR’s news reporter Jill Kaufman observed a group of young musicians walking humbly down the street mid-day in Conway with their instruments and packs on their backs, she walked over and spoke to them and ended up telling their story on their air: They lost all their musical equipment in the tornado just days before they were to set off on a performance tour across the United States. When NEPR listener Klondike “Klon” Koehler heard Jill’s story, he contacted NEPR and donated a host of music and sound equipment to the musicians enabling them to embark on their tour.
That’s the power of community at work through the radio waves.
I could go on and on….Jonathan Wright donating rent-free for an entire year a new home he built in Village Hill in Northampton to the Syrian refugee family of three that arrived here in February.
That’s the power of community in building new lives.
Point is, community works. For my business, for building arts and culture, and in supporting one another.
It sure is a different experience than I had in New York City.