We are all subject to the effects of apathy. Every one of us is tempted to do less, give less or accept less. While this might be our nature, to go with the flow, to adapt to lowering standards; we also have the ability to resist this temptation. We decide when the extra effort is worth it. Whether it is our drive to be successful, to get in better shape or to learn a craft- in striving to lead better, richer lives, we take the time and put in the effort to improve. And through this process, we find, it’s always worth it. We are always rewarded by doing things the right way. This is how we develop pride. In taking the time to learn something new, in going the extra mile, in pushing ourselves further, or mastering something difficult. Through a series of choices, people grow prouder over time. We fill our lives with accomplishments and the awards that come with them. This is the simple guide to leading an enriching life.
Cities function no differently than individuals. When cities choose apathy, residents will follow their lead. In fact, it becomes harder for people to chose pride, when they exist in apathetic places. It is easier to lead a life of pride, when you find yourself in a proud environment. Plenty of people have risen above their environments, but there is a reason we find these stories exceptional. Science has well established that humans are incredibly able to adapt to their environment, this is why it is so critical we provide people with quality environments to inhabit.
Once we understand these dynamics, we begin to realize how important it is that we use civic pride as the basis for making community decisions. If every decision was considered through the lens of civic pride, imagine how much better our cities would be, and therefore how much better our lives would be.
Civic pride breaks down into 6 major areas, and communities should use these categories to direct their focus. In putting effort towards each area, a shift will take place, where people begin to feel less apathetic about the place they call home, and find they are starting to feel proud of their place.
Six Pillars of Civic Pride
The power of civic pride cannot be overstated. As people begin to feel an attachment to their town, they will begin to fight for it. They will work for it, they will defend it. Think about the things you are proud of. You maintain them, you show them off, you brag about them, you treasure them. Those same tendencies would apply to our hometowns if they gave us that special feeling we get inside from the things we love. This is the not-so-secret secret to real community development. Economic development is broken beyond belief and generally just works to transfer local money to out-of-towners. Tourism is phony and does little for locals. All the tools we’ve been using to improve our communities for the last few decades are defunct. Civic pride is the simple way forward.
The cities that will win the future are the ones that foster civic pride.
Cities that opt to invest in beauty.
Towns that work to retain and grow local ownership.
Villages that work to foster friendships and deepen residents’ roots.
Neighborhoods that decide higher standards will improve outcomes.
Communities that cultivate their sense of identity.
Places that opt for action over planning.
These are simple steps forward that will completely transform people’s relationship to their towns. This relationship is one of the most important ones we have in our lives and it needs to improve. It is past time we toss out community development and economic development and accept civic pride as our way forward.