Do you love where you live?
In the days after the birth of our youngest daughter, we were overwhelmed by the number of neighbourhood gestures; offers to cook meals, mow the lawn, babysit and so on. When later I was President of our local pre-school committee, we organised a surprise 20-year anniversary celebration for two of the teaching staff. The local pub provided the room for free, a local cake maker donated cakes, teenagers and parents who had been taught by these wonderful women decades before came from great distances to celebrate. It was a heart-warming experience. And it spoke volumes. These are just two examples amongst many that contributed to us loving where we lived.
Prior to relocating to Noosa’s hinterland, we lived in Warrandyte – a green and leafy Melbourne suburb that was well-known for offering its residents something special...and not just the picturesque river that runs through it. Warrandyte’s community was one of the hardest things for us to say goodbye to. Whilst living there, we experienced neighbours looking out for neighbours, volunteers happy to pitch in, help available for anyone in need , people coming together for fun, for causes, for events, and in tragedy. And the majority who live there recognise that Warrandyte’s community is both rare and beautiful.
Moving to Pomona, we have been incredibly fortunate to find ourselves in another region where the word community really means something too, both for its residents and its businesses.
Operating a business as we did in Melbourne, you were, typically, a small fish in a big pond, all the time vying for profits and competitive advantage. In contrast, running a successful business here often means (or should often mean) the community is a priority.
Take the recent King of the Mountain festival, which is, year after year, always well supported by dozens of small, local businesses. They don’t sponsor it for what they can get out of it in way of a return, but because of a moral drive to support the town and preserve this wonderful festival.
The irony is that by prioritising community over a desire for only profit, you discover the key to a healthy and sustainable operating environment for local businesses. Communities define towns and regions, and a lack of one can break them. Community is a powerful and unique selling feature and helps provide clear differentiation from the more anonymous and commercially saturated cities. When a community of like-minded people, who are engaged with and proud of their town or region, come together, big things can happen, with a rolling snowball effect.
The Noosa Hinterland community is fast becoming a leader in developing community aware services for its residents and visitors. Extremely aware of the risks of over tourism (such is the issue’s prominence in the neighbouring Noosa Heads and Noosaville), the Hinterland isn’t focussed on measuring its success only by the number of visitors, but also by the quality of the experience and happiness of its residents and businesses.
Feeling proud of where you live is so important in driving a sense of community, certainly it’s the common factor that we identified in our two experiences. It’s truly a privilege when you find your village, your tribe, and your people. Of course, it’s not always going to be roses and lullabies, every community will have its ups and downs…but if they are shared – the ups are higher and the downs might not feel so bad.