Once upon a time, there were places that everybody knew and loved. You know what I mean, right? Places like The Last Chance Saloon, Michael's, Rocky Run, Produce Galore, Bun Penny. Everybody went there. At least, that's what I've heard. You can probably name some others, equally treasured.
But times changed. People changed. The economy changed. And then, one day, they weren't there. Not all at once of course--little by little. Well-known pieces of the community broke away and crumbled. Some people were angry, some were grieving. Some asked, "why?"
"Why didn't we know?"
"If we had known they were in trouble, we would have made a point of supporting them."
"It's not our fault this happened."
If someone had just told us, we would never have let this happen."
I don't know the origin of the adage, "No news is good news." It seems an awful lot like, "If you don't hear anything, it must be okay." Hindsight tell us the falsity in that. No news? What if we just weren't listening?
Last week, HocoBloggers Tom Coale and HowChow took a look at a tragic news story in Ellicott City, but they heard something more than the headlines. Underlying all the basic pieces of the story was another story: of a community of merchants who are our neighbors. Hit by one crisis after another in recent years, they were facing an extended closure of Main Street while clean-up from the train accident took place.
Something really marvelous happened because they were listening. And they asked a different question, "What if?"
"What if we can do something to help?"
"What if we can use social media to make it a 'happening'?"
"What if our small, individual acts can create a bigger wave of support?"
Among the long list of things that I am not is: an economist. However, I do know that businesses struggle and fail for a variety of reasons, and that it isn't as simple as well-meaning folks charging in on white steeds to save the day. And under no circumstances am I saying that any of these businesses are in danger of failing. I don't have any knowledge of that, and it is not the point of this post.
The point is about friendship. Do you know who makes the best friends? People who listen. Really listen, and pay attention. If they haven't heard from you, they don't assume that "No News Is Good News". Perhaps you are depressed, or swamped at work. Maybe you have fallen and you can't get up.
Good friends make good community members. And good community members make, well--they make a bustling Main Street on a weekend in August, for one thing.
What else could they--we--do?