On July 19, 2015, I asked myself the following question, “Where can we create a global community for those who express an interest in changing the world?” As big and futuristic of an idea as this may sound, please allow me to express how we can begin to manifest our ideal thoughts into ideal actions. Here are the two magic words, “START LOCAL.”
On Saturday May 28, 2016 at 4:18 am, I recorded a voice memo detailing my ideas and thoughts on the impact and importance of starting local. This came after sending an email over to Anand Patel. Anand happens to be the co-owner of Hidden Grounds Coffee, a local business here in New Brunswick, NJ.
In October of 2013, I interviewed Anand for behindthehustle.com. We sat down to discuss both the hardships and successes that come with opening up a new business. Since then, I have made an effort to stay informed of what’s going on at Hidden Grounds.
The email that I sent to Anand was in reference to 365 by Whole Foods, “Friends of 365” program. This is an entrepreneurial move aimed to incorporate a sense of localized, independent, and creative entrepreneurial spirit by installing third-party vendors inside of its 365 by Whole Foods stores. A few minutes after I sent this email, I had an instant epiphany…”START LOCAL.”
Why Start Local? Proximity Matters!
On January 2, 2016, I posted a video of Bryan Stevenson’s 2015 Zeitgeist Minds talk. Here he discussed the importance of being proximate to the problems in our world. “Proximity teaches us things that we cannot learn from a distance” Stevenson says. “When we get proximate to problems, we see things and hear nuances and details that we cannot see from a distance. In order to solve problems and create breakthroughs, we must get very close and inside of the problems that we intend to solve.” Starting local enables us to foster closer and more intimate relationships in the communities which we serve.
I Thought To Myself!
“With so many local businesses, companies, organizations, and schools here in the City of New Brunswick, how can I leverage my talents in an effort to add value to my local community at large?”
Naturally, my first instinct was to go to social media. I went straight to Twitter and Instagram to search for local businesses, companies, and organizations in the New Brunswick area. For some reason, I decided to check out New Brunswick’s Hyatt Hotel on Twitter.
@HyattNewBruns (517 Followers)
After viewing their profile, I immediately thought to myself, “Why does the Hyatt only have 517 followers?” I was then curious to see how much of a brand presence our city government and school district had on their social media profiles as well.
@CityofNewBruns (4,311 Followers)
@nbpschools (268 followers)
Seeing these numbers were highly intriguing! Not only did I begin to see a trend, more importantly, I began to see an opportunity. According to U.S. Census data, the City of New Brunswick’s population is roughly around 57,000 residents. If this is the case, I asked myself the following question: “How might our local businesses, government agencies, and schools do a better job in regards to engaging with our community?”
Living In The City!
As a graduate of Rutgers University, a resident in the City of New Brunswick, and a substitute teacher throughout New Brunswick Public Schools, I feel as though I am extremely proximate to the diverse culture and lifestyle New Brunswick has to offer. However, along with the great potential of our city will come challenges. One immediate challenge that I have observed over the years, is a lack of awareness when it comes to business, community, education, and government initiatives. In a city with roughly around 57,000 residents, how might we do a better job in regards to reaching and engaging with our community?
The Power of Social Media!
In an age where both digital and social media presence move the world, I believe that our online platforms are the single most important places for businesses, communities, schools, and government agencies to connect and meet at scale. This leads me to my BIG ESSENTIAL question:
How might we leverage digital and social media platforms to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government?
Introducing: The #WeLOVEHubCity Initiative!
The #WeLOVEHubCity initiative is a solution to our problem. This initiative is essentially the culmination of the last 5 years of my life. Since graduating from Rutgers University in May of 2011, I have worked on numerous community service initiatives as a City Year Corps member while living in Miami, FL. While in Miami, I also spent my “free” time working as a field marketing rep for Cornerstone Agency. I owe it to Cornerstone for introducing me to the world of branding, entertainment marketing, and promotion. When I returned back to New Jersey in late 2012, I began to work for New Brunswick Public Schools as a Substitute Teacher.
The combination of all of these unique experiences is ultimately what I feel enabled me to develop the #WeLOVEHubCity initiative. My love for culture, community, education, entertainment, and leadership are just a few things that I feel fuel me with the passion to pursue an initiative of this capacity. Through digital and social media curation, our mission is to bridge the gap between business, community culture, education, and government in the City of New Brunswick, NJ.
Where Might We Begin?
Through promoting the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag to our businesses, community organizations, government agencies, and schools throughout the city, we are proactively encouraging digital conversation and dialogue on all social media platforms. In turn, this will help to endorse healthy engagement, the exchange of ideas, and the increase in brand awareness for the entire City of New Brunswick. When we curate content generated through the usage of the #WeLOVEHubCity hashtag, we will then share it across all of our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts.
Where Might This Lead Us?
Our @WeLOVEHubCity social media accounts will serve as “digital hubs” for the intersection between business, community culture, education, and government initiatives throughout the City of New Brunswick. Imagine a digital community center that serves as the hub of Hub City. Imagine a place where we are proud to share the accomplishments, best practices, and talents in business, community culture, education, and government. It’s a huge win for everyone involved. When we are able to pull together as a collective for the City of New Brunswick, we will also begin to economically thrive across all sectors. This will serve as an inspiration for other cities throughout the State of New Jersey and across the nation!
Collaboration + Partnership!
If you love what you hear, we would love for you to hop on board in some capacity. We understand that collaboration and partnership is essential to the healthy development and execution of ideas. We also know that we have a long way to go and thus will need the full support of the New Brunswick community at large. We would love to begin talks to discuss partnering with the following community leaders:
- New Brunswick Public Schools
- The City of New Brunswick
- Rutgers University
- Community organizations
- Local businesses
Interested in saying hello? Shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Oh…we almost forgot. Please, spread the word and follow us on social:
(Uh • Kway • Us) Aquaus Kelley is a forward-thinking Brand Strategist, Cultural Curator, and Educator. As the Founder of A Lovers Ambition Lifestyle Group, he specializes in identifying talent and creating opportunities for brand development, exposure, and growth. Aquaus has worked with companies and organizations such as Cornerstone Agency, City Year Miami, Universal Music Group, and W Hotels. He is extremely passionate about helping companies adapt to culture and building value between brands and their consumers centered around love. His ultimate mission is to use his influence to project positivity across the globe and invest in the collective future of society through the arts, education, entertainment, and leadership.