There really is nothing as powerful as people fighting for their community. In this information age, we see people form groups and friendships that stretch across borders, across oceans; or they stay involved with their hometown from thousands of miles away. But physically living or working in a place—walking, biking or driving those streets every day, chatting with neighbors in the grocery store aisles—these are experiences that cannot be replicated on social media or anywhere else. The only way to truly share a community is to share in all of it: the risks, the rewards, the causes and the controversies encountered in everyday life.
As a former hyperlocal journalist covering small towns for five years, I saw the power of people who were invested in their community—who knew and cared about its history, its people and its government. The phrase “all politics are local” remains as true as it ever was. Over and over, I saw how all it took was a dozen informed, dedicated and invested people to affect change in the places they lived—change that actually improved people’s lives in tangible ways, and made the community stronger.
It is here that real estate professionals have an absolutely tremendous power and opportunity. In my conversations and reporting on local issues, it was apparent that local agents were viewed as trusted, expert advocates on any number of town or neighborhood questions—not just on the subject of housing. From school board policy to environmental regulations, people who care about their community know intuitively that agents have the credibility to advocate and organize. I was never surprised to find out that a person who brought attention to an important issue or who had organized concerned citizens to lobby local officials was a real estate agent.
Not using this power, or only using it in ways that can boost your business, should not be acceptable. Teddy Roosevelt described those who have the time and education to affect political change but choose not to as “unfit to live in a free community.” This harsh critique is reflective of the vital importance of civic responsibility in a democracy. While national politics are often full of vitriol and can feel distant and alienating, cooperating and compromising with neighbors to address problems that affect all of you is always within reach.
And there is no doubt that your community needs your help. We are seeing a plethora of urgent crisis-level issues playing out largely at the local level. Homelessness, environmental conservation, energy, land use, education and regulation can all be steered by county- or municipal-level policy. And because all of these things are adjacent to housing to some degree, it is likely that you know more than the average person about the opportunities out there for improving how your community can address them.
As a real estate professional, you have already built a foundation where you live. People in your community look up to you; they know you are invested in the health and happiness of your neighbors. They trust that you’re well informed and impartial on difficult issues (hopefully they are right). They will absolutely work alongside you. If you want to see your community thrive and grow, you can do more than most people to make that happen. The only question is, will you do it?