BELONGING

Three Components of Thriving Neighborhoods

By

Alicia Briggs

– VOL. 8

It seems like everyone is talking about screens lately. How much time we spend on them. The interconnected relationships we develop through them. But as much of culture moves online, one thing endures: the neighborhood.

Our neighborhoods play a crucial role in our lives and, as remote work grows, they’ve become more important than ever.

We consume much more online and generally hang out less,” says Venn CXO and Co-Founder Chen Avni. “Our encounters with diverse people and cultures have been significantly reduced.” 

This is where the neighborhood comes in. It’s not only where our home is, but for many of us, it’s where we spend most of our time. It’s where we drink coffee, meet new people, see art, and take a break from our screens.

Image of three components of thriving neighborhoods

Local small businesses like City Barrel Brewing Company in Kansas City are a pillar of thriving neighborhoods.

As Avni sees it, neighborhoods are like an ecosystem with their character dictating the types of businesses that take root there, the types of people who live and grow there, and the types of content and the community that thrive there. 

These three  factors —  businesses, people, and community — are what’s needed to build a connected, strong, and special neighborhood. We explore each below. 

1. Strong Local Businesses

Local businesses play an essential role in creating strong neighborhoods.

According to Avni, an important role of local businesses “is to look holistically at their specific activities and ask ‘how can I, as a  business owner, increase the circle of earners in the neighborhood? How can I make sure that my activities maintain the community character?’” 

Operating with this mindset, local businesses and supportive neighbors play a key role in creating strong local economy and strong neighborhoods. That’s why Venn works to help partners with local businesses to host events and promote their products and services in the Life at Venn app.

Image of the three components of successful neighborhoods

After months of social isolation, Neighbors in Kansas City gathered for a round of brews at a local pub last summer. 

2. Connected Neighbors 

In order to have a special neighborhood, there needs to be a connected community. Neighbors everywhere readily acknowledge this. When Venn surveyed 500 renters across the country, more than a quarter of people said it’s important to live in a neighborhood where they feel like they belong and are connected.

It’s about “being able to get to know my neighbors and build strong connections over time,” said one respondent. “It means feeling like I know my neighbors and have connections to the people I pass on the street,” added another.

Creating these sort of local connections is what the Venn is built to do. On the app, Venn Neighbors can connect with other community members, RSVP to local events, and discover local businesses. In real life, Venn Hosts plan and host community-wide progamming every week and curate spaces for neighbors to gather.

Image of three components of successful neighborhoods

Neighbors in Kansas City participate in a community gardening event last spring. Volunteer events like this have been essential to the neighborhood’s vitality.

3. Community Contribution

“As cities get bigger and bigger, it’s becoming more challenging to manage them on a municipal level. With the challenges the world is going to face in the coming years, the neighborhood will be the best way to manage and sustain city life,” says Avni. 

Essential to developing and sustaining a strong and successful neighborhood is creating an environment where people can contribute to the wellbeing of their community. Venn helps Neighbors give back by hosting fundraisers and volunteer opportunities. While 67 percent of renters never or rarely give back to their neighborhoods, participation is very different in Venn communities, where 90 percent of neighbors participated in at least one volunteer event last year.

When we come together and participate in our neighborhood, we create a better, more connected community for all. And that’s something pretty special.