Not too long ago, I was what you might call a community skeptic. I had heard lots of people talk about the value of community; I was pitched by startups who were creating communities; but I wasn’t convinced. “Community” seemed like such an intangible thing.
Then I moved into the Ogden, a high-rise luxury apartment building amidst gritty downtown Las Vegas. (It’s a long story, but Tech Cocktail opened an office there.) The Ogden is home to Tony Hsieh and many Zappos folks, as well as much of the Downtown Project staff. Community figures prominently in the goals of the Downtown Project, which is revitalizing downtown Las Vegas by funding new businesses and buildings.
But it’s the Ogden itself that has won me over. We have a Google group for residents, so emails flow into my inbox daily. Check out this concert, come grab some free chili, our startup just launched, party at the local bar. Here’s what else I’ve gotten from the community, just by asking:
- Health. Someone recommended a primary care doctor for me. A doctor – as in, someone who helps you stay healthy. That’s super important.
- Mobility. We offered to give away our parking space in exchange for use of a car for grocery store trips. Voila – we can now get around easily without braving public transport.
- Information. Two neighbors offered to share their Internet, for free, since we’re only staying temporarily.
- Food. We can feed our stomachs with weekly community dinners.
These benefits are incredibly tangible, I have to admit. So I’m a skeptic no more.