“We can begin by doing small things at the local level, like planting community gardens or looking out for our neighbors. That is how change takes place in living systems: not from above but from within, from many local actions occurring simultaneously.” ~ Grace Lee Bogs
We all know how important first impressions are when we meet someone or present ourselves for a job interview, but what about first impressions of a place? When we arrive at a location, we immediately form an opinion about whether it is safe, attractive or unkempt and whether it is a place where we would enjoy or be comfortable spending time.
Our hometown communities create an impression for those who live there and those who visit. If we want a vibrant community, we must engage our leaders and residents to create a pleasurable space for both those of us who live there and a welcoming impression for those who visit.
The Heart Of A City
It can be said that Downtown or Main Street represents the heart of a city. It can also be said that the PEOPLE are the heart of a city. We need to decide. What sort of first impression do we want our heart to reflect?
Community gardens not only provide a place for people to share in common goals, but they can also be an opportunity for healthy outdoor activity, a local source of nutrition when fruits and vegetables are grown, and they also provide ecological value.
Trees, Flowers & Plants Mean Business
As for Main Street and the business community, plantings and green spaces in downtown areas are proven to add economic value.
In a study, City Trees and the Retail Streetscape by Kathleen L. Wolf, Ph.D., at the University of Washington, researchers concluded several key takeaways for small business:
- Favorable expectations of shopping experiences are initiated long before a consumer enters a store.
- Potential shoppers claim they are willing to travel more often, longer, and over greater distances, and once they arrive there, will spend more time and 9-12% more on purchases in a retail district that has trees.
- Shoppers also claimed that the level of care for plants in the sidewalk zone provided cues about the level of care and customer service they might expect from nearby merchants.
From attractive tree lined streets, container plantings outside homes and business, flowering adopt-a-spot locations, well-manicured homes and businesses, to creating public common spaces for resting, shelter and leisure, city planners and residents alike have an opportunity to show their community pride with trees and plants that welcome shoppers and visitors to improve property values and bring revenue to our local businesses and economy.
Incorporating trees in a cityscape can take some time to plan and introduce. If trees are not an immediate option, sidewalk or hanging planters and pocket gardens with flowers are a quick solution to make a big impact.
As a matter of fact, flowers serve to stimulate social trust in many ways. According to behavioral research conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions, heightens feelings of life satisfaction and affects social behavior in a positive manner far beyond what is normally believed.
These downtown planters or community gardens can be funded and maintained the same way adopt-a-spot areas are cared for, with support from residents or local businesses and organizations. In some cases, memorial or tribute areas can be made available to beautify a space.
Here at Studley Flower Gardens, we are always looking for ways to give back to the communities in which we live and serve. As individuals, we dedicate our time to the boards of the Rochester Historic District Commission and Rochester Main Street, among others. As a business, we help with beautification through our Adopt-A-Spot and have donated floral planters for the Rochester Opera House and for city streets.
Everyone stands to benefit from a more vibrant community and we can each contribute on some level, by volunteering on beautification or enhancement committees, getting involved in city clean up projects, or simply planting something to add to the aesthetic and ecological value of our neighborhoods.
Our friends at Revolution Taproom & Grill are another example of good neighbors. They came to the city to do business, but since opening in 2014 they also aim to make things better than they found them. In just four short years, they have not only improved the interior and exterior of their building, they look to decorate with fresh greens at the holidays and potted plants in the summer. They have also taken what was once the albeit cleaned-up, but still underutilized area of Factory Court and turned it into a welcoming outdoor dining area with comfortable seating, umbrella shelters, plants and fresh flowers that have this patio thriving with activity each summer. This is a perfect example of how people will travel from outside of Rochester, not only for the menu, but also for the atmosphere Revolution has sought to create, and yes it’s no secret their guests are willing to pay a bit more than the average fare to get it. Ask yourself, what if there were more such investment or common green spaces developed throughout the downtown?
We Are The Heart
What’s important to understand is that you don’t have to be a business owner, you just need to have a sense of investment in where you live or a desire to enjoy the benefits of a better community. If you care, you simply need to look for the opportunities to offer something that you are able to give – it may start with getting involved with local economic or community development and to offer feedback to your city leaders. You can choose what to give – time, expertise, labor and if you like, yes money.
Encourage our city leaders to look to proven examples of municipalities that have turned areas of blight to areas of bliss with the help of urban planners, volunteer constituents and other experts to begin taking even small steps to move toward downtown community revitalization.
The Facts Are:
To every problem there is a solution.
Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.
If we keep looking at what’s wrong, we will never be able to see past it to find what would be right.
You can do your small part and get involved in a clean up project (even it is going out by yourself with a trash bag to clean up your own sidewalk or street) or plant a tree to give birds a home, contribute to clean air and beautify your home or business and neighborhood.
Don’t Just Live Here, Thrive Here
When there are signs of life in a community – people positively enjoying outdoor spaces with trees, plants and flowers present, the impression is inviting and portrays vitality, as well as a sense of safety and pride.
Studley Flower Gardens is proud to be an official sponsor of Plant Something NH, a program of the NH Plant Growers with a mission to educate the public about the health, environmental and economic benefits of plants.
Inspiration Grows Here! Visit Studley’s during Plant Something NH Weekend Saturday June 2nd & Sunday, June 3rd! Do Good. Plant Something. Good Grows.
See you at Studley’s!