Have you ever seen a group of young men singing Disney songs while swinging a sledgehammer at a cement parking lot? It’s quite a paradoxical spectacle. During college, I spent a blazing hot summer in Israel helping renovate a community building. Our first mission was to break up a parking lot, but the catch was that we only had one sledgehammer.

At first, we attacked it with the unstrategic zeal you could expect from 15 to 20-year-olds. One of us pounded away (secretly imagining he was Thor) while the others scraped and clawed at rocks and pieces. When “Thor” got tired and somebody else proved worthy to swing the hammer, we demoted Thor to the chain gang. What we figured out a couple of hours in was that it was actually more strategic for the fellows not using the sledgehammer to rest and cheer on the hammerer instead. Thus, we developed a rotation of resting and swinging, maximizing the utility of our lone tool.

By the end of our trip, we had the entire parking lot busted up and removed. It was a collective effort, one that we were proud of. Not only that, but there was lasting evidence that we had positively changed the community. 

Most of us have moments where we feel like we’re doing something real and purposeful. Often, we find purpose and community in our work. But what about finding purpose in our actual communities (aka neighborhoods), not just our office buildings?

A Pew Research Center study from 2019 shows that of Americans:

  • Only 57% say they know some of their neighbors
  • Only 26% say they know most of their neighbors
  • 58% never meet their neighbors for get-togethers

It’s a little surprising to see stats like that when we think about the proximity of most neighbors. After all, they literally surround us. And that’s just our neighborhoods. What about our towns, cities, or regions? 

When you think about community involvement, some of your first ideas might be volunteer work, voting in local elections, even getting plugged in at local rec leagues. While those can be great options, Vicinity Capital is making it possible to invest in your communities. It’s not charity, you can pick companies you align with and invest for possible returns. But beyond the potential financial returns, you will have social returns. By that, we mean an improved community to look forward to and greater connections.

These are legitimate investment opportunities – but they’re also the small business owners you know and care about, and they’re looking to raise capital. By investing, you’re becoming what we like to call a “Local Hero.” Not only that, you’re becoming a part of a tribe.

Saul Levine M.D. is a professor and author who says, “We humans are a social species, tribal by nature. We’re given to gathering and communing in familiar groups. ‘Belonging,’ our capacity and need for  empathy, compassion, and communication, is in our DNA.”

Have you ever heard somebody talk about the stock market with that terminology? Chances are, you haven’t. We usually think more “Wolf of Wall Street” regarding the stock market; what we’re trying to do at Vicinity is bring a tribe mentality to the world of investing.

Saul also refers to being in a tribe as a key component of establishing our self-worth by fulfilling the Four Bs:

  1. Being: inner peace and self-acceptance (personal)
  2. Belonging: integral members of at least one group or community (social)
  3. Believing: guiding values and principles of one’s behavior (ethical/spiritual)
  4. Benevolence: the extent the extent to which we have cared for others

Wendy Thompson, CEO & Founder of Socialites, is a global marketer and entrepreneur who argues, “The feel-good factor is real. Feeling a deep sense of belonging to a chosen tribe (or even one not chosen, such as family), contributes to proven positive health outcomes.” 

Finding a tribe of local investors with like-minded values through the Vicinity platform is just one way you can find community while transforming your local economy. You can bet you’re not the only one looking to pour into your local community.  And if you are investing in places you align with, you might experience some of those “feel-good” factors Wendy referred to. The right community can reduce stress and improve your bodily health—imagine, investing activities that might relieve stress instead of adding it!

We’ve talked about the positive effect community involvement can have on our sense of worth and on our physical health. But what about externally? What about the economy?

Regarding microinvesting, many studies show that the money you spend at a local shop boosts your local economy to a far greater degree than it does at a non-local business. “Go Local” isn’t just a catchy phrase, it’s a way of life. “Support Local” is no longer confined to a corner shop. With microinvesting it reaches across your city, fueling the dreams of any entrepreneur with a solid plan and a compelling purpose. 

I’ll leave you with one last story by Seth Godin. On his podcast, he told the tale of a restaurant he loved dearly until sadly one day it closed down.  Seth was so distraught about the place shuttering that he made a plaque and hung it in the alley outside the building to pay homage to what had been there.

Imagine that. Call him a brand ambassador, number one fan, or local hero–the point is, when you’re truly invested in a place, there’s so much more beyond the dollar sign. When you own part of your community, it changes the way you look at your tribe forever.