Building a Community
When I was growing up on Long Island, I was fortunate to live in a community. As a child, I didn’t understand what that meant. All I knew was we went to LaStrada’s on most Friday nights and Joe made our pizza. Other Friday nights we went to the fish store Seth owned where my Dad would pick up fried shrimp for Mom and fried flounder for the rest of us. We went to the German Deli where John ran the counter and without saying a word, he’d put a rice pudding cup on the counter for my Dad and a brownie for me and say “What else?” We knew the names of our mailman, the ice cream man, the librarian at the community library and if we were spotted by neighbors while sowing our wild oats we were either immediately “course corrected” or our parents were waiting for us at the door thanks to a well-timed phone call.
I realize now we had something extraordinary. In the days before telecommuting, ordering from Amazon and drive-thrus on every corner, people left their homes and spoke to each other. The minute or so it took to ask about someone’s college aged son, ailing mother or accomplished grandchildren was a minute well spent.
In Keene, we have something pretty extraordinary too. There is a strong sense of community. We have a beautiful tree lined Main Street filled with local businesses. There’s our Farmer’s Market
on Tuesdays and Saturdays that supports local farmers and crafts people. We have a number of locally owned restaurants that promote seasonal faire. And speaking of seasonal faire we have dozens of events, fairs, concerts and art shows in the area. We are lucky to have a community but it needs support to stay strong and flourish. The Keene Downtown Group and The Monadnock Buy Local are great organizations working on promoting local. Here are some other tips to investing in a community that will provide many happy returns.
Support Local Businesses
There is no doubt a box store has its conveniences. But a store in New Hampshire is designed to look like a store in Atlanta and just like a store in San Francisco. It lacks local flavor and the work ethic of individuals who want you to walk away happy and spread the word about their incredible products or services or food.
The Flight Deck restaurant and Life is Sweet candy store wants to provide you with local experiences. When you walk in to Life is Sweet not only will you find a huge assortment of candy, but you’ll find local favorites like artisanal fudge made fresh in the store and maple candy- a New England favorite. Get to know the owner, and say “Hi Tracy” when you walk in and you’ll be greeted with a big smile and an owner who wants you to love her shop.
Head over to The Flight Deck which creates seasonal menus, hosts Tuesday Trivia nights, supports local wineries and breweries, and on Saturday nights, has live music from local bands and musicians. Be sure to check the events page so you can be on top of upcoming events, such as a wine tasting with wines from The Summit winery on September 8th. The Flight Deck also supports local charities with themed breakfasts for holidays and hosts community nights to support other local businesses.
Attend Local Events
The Keene area is chock full of special events you won’t want to miss. This coming weekend is Art in the Park, showcasing the work or local artists and student artists who live in the region. This Friday and Saturday, September 1st and 2nd, support local music groups and bands with the Keene Music Festival with events planned all day on 8 different stages. The whole event is free and Life is Sweet and The Flight Deck are proud to be among the local sponsors for this wonderful community showcase!
Be sure to check local calendars for upcoming events like the Keene Pumpkin Festival, the tree lighting ceremony and events sponsored by local businesses.
Our community is ripe with opportunities to volunteer and help others in our community. Volunteer work and community involvement has been linked to longer life spans, greater life satisfaction and promotes building friendships and yes, community! It doesn’t matter what you are interested in- animals, senior citizens, children, individuals with disabilities, school programs-there’s a chance for you to help. You can even turn your hobby into a chance to volunteer. Love year sales? All summer long, every other weekend Fast Friends greyhound rescue hosts yard sales to raise money for the care and medical expenses of rescued dogs. Knitting is your thing? Create blankets for a local homeless shelter or hats for infants born prematurely. Love to run? There are a number of charitable races in Keene for which your hobby can raise money.
Take that extra minute
If you’re interested in a product, food item or service, take the time to stop and talk to people. Artisans, chefs, musicians, business men and women are more than happy to talk about what they have to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask even if you are not intending to purchase something in that moment. It’s all about building and fostering a strong community.
When I graduated sixth grade, we went to LaStrada’s for dinner. My rehearsal dinner before being married was there too. And when my husband and I had children, we introduced them to the wonders of pizza made by Joe. So get out there and be a part of our great community in Keene. Get to know our local shopkeepers, restauranteurs and artisans, because it really is nice to “go where everybody knows your name”!