Building Supportive Community

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Building Supportive Community

Building Supportive Community was the topic of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce Town Hall on June 3rd, 2020, hosted by the Chamber's community-oriented CEO, Rnold Smith. “A rising tide floats all boats,” was provides as a useful analogy for the proposed mission for local entrepreneurs. In other words, a collaborative tight community can make it work for all.

COVID-19's impact on the business community has certainly drawn out the importance of fostering community spirit and collaboration. For the local small business owners who were part of the panel, including Rich Patterson of Patterson Brands, Jeremy Perry of New Roots, and Liz and Quinn Waddington, Quinn being a financial consultant, this spirit has been part of their DNA for some time.

With world-wide protests in support of Black Lives Matter, the group first took time to consider how they might reach out more to marginalized communities, acknowledging that there may exist an “accidental racism” in that they may have been somewhat blind to the problem. Various suggestions were put forward to create a more inclusive community.

Each of the participants spoke to the what and how they have developed various types of services to help the community. Rich Patterson, who sells custom swag and merchandise, recently started a  contest with friends. Called “LevelUpMyBrand”, he put a group of local businesses together to create a marketing package for a brand makeover for the contestant, who provided the winningest reasons for their need for such a prize. In 2018, Mindful Mutts won the award.

Jeremy Perry of New Roots, a welcoming service for new residents of New Westminster, spoke about his involvement in developing Pride Week, and now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, setting up a Facebook page with an associated community infrastructure, called Helping Hands, matching people who need help with people who can help. Flyers were also needed as many don't have computer accessibility.

Liz and Quinn Waddington, spoke to their work in setting up the Support Local Facebook page so businesses, including those that are more invisible such as that that are Business-to-business, wholesale, and others, could survive the pandemic. The husband and wife team have a history of community involvement.  

For all of them, although at times their rides were bumpy, the key was to reach out to the larger community, bring others in as collaborators, community partners and to amplify, amplify, amplify their messages through tapping into others social media tribes and through other means.

Rnold Smith directed participants to think about how it would be possible to make the New Westminster Businesses Community the most supportive in the world. Collaboration, referrals, honest feedback to others, were among the ideas put forward. Rnold, himself, put up a very comprehensive list of ways that a community could build through the early stages of 'getting to know you', simply by making introductions and other ideas, to collaborations of various sorts, through to full-on allies, up to and including investing in each other.

The panelists, all of whom have a great track record in uplifting the community through their involvements on Boards and other work, agreed that this was the way forward.  Patterson's background involves being on the downtown Business Improvement Association and Tourism New West; Jeremy is on the Board of Pride; and Quinn is on the Chamber's Board, is a member of the Rotary Club, a children's sports coach, and formerly on the Hospice Board.

By: Susan Millar


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