I didn’t grow up with any understanding of what a sense of community really meant. A sense of community is an abstract thing, a feeling, that is hard to relay to another person. It’s hard to grasp what it is, until you experience it for yourself. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for some cities to make any real efforts in its name. It’s hard to advocate for something if you can’t really embrace what it is. A sense of community matters to me and I believe it is essential to the human experience. Every single one of us would benefit from loving where we live and every city should put immensely more effort towards embracing and empowering its residents. I have been extremely fortunate to work in a field where I get to help cities foster a stronger sense of community and when progress is made, there is little more satisfying than the change these places experience.
Working in community revitalization is what I do and all I ever want to do. I think the stakes are too high and the impact the Sprawl Economy is having on us as a country, is far too great. I feel there is an urgency in this issue as more and more people are affected by living in places that are unlovable. More kids are being born into towns where opportunity is nearly non-existent. More heritage buildings are burning and falling into the street. More is being lost, more is being wasted, more are growing apathetic. More needs done. There is no shortage of need, the problem I have found, is that it’s not easy to help. The communities that need the most help don’t necessarily have the resources to seek it out. There are thousands of communities across the country that need a hand in helping to restore health to their local economy. The question that has plagued me, and in turn, my wife as well, is how to effectively help all of these places. There are a lot of places with a lot of need, but how can we reach them?
Initially, Revitalize, or Die. was the name for me, for my consulting firm; but we have quickly learned that it’s become something else. We learned this past year that Revitalize, or Die. is more of a message and a way of talking about community revitalization. We learned that people are extremely passionate about their towns and looking for more ways they can step up and affect change. We learned that we have stirred up something in people that matters. People were engaging with us and reaching out and we knew we could do MORE, we just didn’t know exactly what to do next.
Jumping around a bit. When I work with communities, one of my consistent recommendations is to have some means to show support for your town. I believe it is incredibly important that members of a community have the ability to show support for said community. It demonstrates you are proud of this affiliation and identity with this community. When I speak of community, I am referring to the common location people live, but there is the other, more general sense of community. Anymore, people have gear to support every type of community. There’s Harry Potter gear, and yoga gear and beer gear and bike gear and band gear and YouTuber gear and video gamer gear and gear for every weird thing out there. And of course there is enough sports gear to fill a sad Grand Canyon. I think sometimes people believe that in wearing sports gear they are supporting their community, but this is not the case. The local sports team does not represent a whole city, be it high school, college or pro. Supporting your sports team is not the same as supporting your place. Sports ball is nice and teams certainly do have their own communities associated, but they do not represent a whole city or town. It is important that community members have a means to show support for their place as a whole, separate from any athletic endeavors.
So tying things back together. We understand that in being part of a community, it’s important to be able to show your participation and support for that community. Most places, outside of major cities, have no means in which to show their support for their town. And, as mentioned above, we’ve been trying to best understand how to more effectively reach all of the places struggling to rebuild their local economy. And while informative content regarding revitalization strategies will continue to be a big part of Revitalize, or Die., we realized there are other ways in which we can assist. We realized that there was a tool we could provide. We realized we could give a voice to people that love their town and want to show it. We realized there was a way we could help empower those that are working so hard to make a difference. So we are getting into the apparel game.
Revitalize, or Die. is launching an Urbanist Apparel shop to help people demonstrate support for their town and for other issues associated with community building, revitalization and strengthening the local economy. Surprisingly, if you consider yourself an urbanist, there is currently no place to go and get gear. If you hate sprawl and love your downtown, you can’t find a shirt that states this. Crazy, right? If you feel like you are a part of a community that loves your community and loves all communities, you should be able to say it loud and proud with a god damn shirt! Guess what? You are now in luck.
So as of this week, we are going live with the Revitalize, or Die. – Urbanist Apparel shop via our webpage. We are partnering up with the crew over at Spreadshop to help give all the downtown lovers, urbanists, building huggers, public transportation fans, neighborhood junkies and street walkers a way to express themselves. The store currently has about 15 designs and we will be adding more every week. We are also enlisting you, fellow urbanists. If you have a design, send it to us. If you have something to say, tell us and we’ll design it for you. You will get a percentage of the sales for any design we use. For interested communities, we are setting up a partner program, where a portion of sales will go back to your town and directly into a community project. Gear will be customizable as well so you can make it specific for your town. If you are looking for something you don’t see, get in touch and we can create it. We want to give everyone working to make their community a better place to live, the means in which to show how they feel.
We are so incredibly excited about this next step in the life of Revitalize, or Die. We hope you will all check out the shop, get some gear, send us ideas, and together, we can continue to resist against the Sprawl Economy, fight apathy and give a damn!