I firmly believe that one of the responsibilities of a community leader is to actively contribute to the city in which they serve. Leaders who are seen eating in the neighborhood diner, shopping in the co-op, drinking a beer in the micro-brewery, or simply relaxing in the city park are making a visible statement of love for their community. Leaders who spend their hard earned cash in the local economy are not only investing in small businesses but are also acting as a catalyst for others to shop locally. In the end, the community around your library grows and more people find their way into your buildings. There is no better time to put this idea into practice than the Holiday Season!
My first stop was the Michigan News Agency, one of the oldest and best literary locations in Kalamazoo. This place has been selling newspapers, magazines, and books since 1947. The owner Dean Hauck is a local treasure and fellow Detroit Tigers fan. I love visiting the store during the summer months and hearing the sweet sounds of baseball playing on the radio in the background. Unfortunately the day I went shopping Dean was not around, but that did not stop me from browsing the thousands of books and magazines on her packed shelves.
I found some great books that I know the leaders on my Christmas list will enjoy! The innovative, daring, “punk rock” manager will love either Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil or Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman. Both books should inspire leaders to embrace the unconventional, a trait I suspect will be needed in 2017. Do you know a leader that has a difficult time making a decision? Buy them Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman because it will definitely challenge the way they think about making decisions. In addition to all the books, there are some pretty great magazines for the leader on your list like Fast Company, Inc., and Harvard Business Review. All good leaders need to prepare for 2017 and there is no better place to stock up on resources than a local bookstore like Michigan News Agency.
Nothing beats a good latte after searching all morning for some great books! There are multiple java joints in downtown Kalamazoo and the newest is a new Biggby Coffee. Author Steven Johnson in his very popular TED Talk “Where Good Ideas Come From” discusses how coffee houses are a popular place for good ideas to brew and collide with other ideas. The high caffeine levels of espresso and the sugar in the caramel syrup certainly help the innovative part of your brain. Maybe this is why many leaders choose coffee houses as a location to meet colleagues outside of work.
Giving back to your community can take many forms. When you shop locally, you are intentionally giving back to your community by making an investment in the downtown economy. Leaders who shop locally instill an even greater level of confidence in both the citizens and the small business owners. This giving action will accelerate the growth of a public library in more ways than one. On a personal level, shopping in places in which they recognize me as “the guy who works at the library” fills my heart with an even greater love for the place I now call home.