Is Your Community Self-Sustaining?
With the recent announcement of the closing of Borders bookstores, my wife Deborah (a dyed-in-the-wool book lover) and I were talking about the inevitable movement away from large mega-corporation stores to more sustainable local community stores. We’re already seeing a huge movement in the United States toward buying local produce, and Deb and I both agree that as we see more companies like Borders collapse, this “local community” concept will move well beyond produce.
With Borders stores closing down, there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of people in communities across the country who are unemployed. In many areas, the opportunities to even get books have disappeared because large chains like Borders pushed out local book stores before they themselves went under. The trick for many book lovers now will be establishing ways to support their local reading community – people in their town who want to still read physical books. It is, I feel, an exciting prospect, and should lead to a resurgence in the smaller, more local bookstores.
This discussion got me thinking a lot about online communities. I often speak with community leaders who are concerned about the level of access they get from large developers and publishers. In fact, many feel that this type of support is essential to building a community site. So what happens if that goes away? Is your community self-sustaining? What if all of your favorite PR contacts and Community Managers were laid off tomorrow? What are you doing to ensure that your community is independent and vibrant despite the help of big PR and Marketing?