This past Sunday, I just wanted to stay inside.
Well, first off it was Sunday, which is a good day to just be… well… lazy!
Second, it was cold outside. It had snowed the previous night and people who are originally from Texas (like me) never quite know what to do with snow, so we usually just stay inside until it goes away.
Third, I had a blanket on my feet, a cup of warm tea, and I was watching Star Wars. Why would I want to go outside when I was warm and cozy?
*knock, knock, knock*
“Well who could that be? I thought. “It’s like less than 20 degrees outside.”
I got up out of my warm cocoon and answered the door.
“Hello sir!” shouted two cheerful boys armed with shovels.
“Would you like us to clear the snow out of your drive way?” one of them asked. “Only three dollars!”
”Three dollars for each of us,” his friend corrected him.
I looked at them in the bewildered sort of way one does when they are still processing that people would willingly go outside in such cold weather. I fortunately regained my wits enough to say, “Sure, that would be great,” and they happily ran off to begin shoveling.
By this point my dog had caught wind that the door was open and bolted out to greet the boys. Face licks and head patting immediately ensued. “Well, looks like I have to go outside,” I groaned inside my head. I shoved on some shoes and went outside.
”We like your dog!” they laughed.
”Yeah, he’s pretty great,” I said, smiling. “Do you all live on the street?”
”Yeah, just down there at that house.”
”Hey that’s great! Good to know you all live down there. I’ll know who to reach out to in case my yard is filled with snow again.”
”Yes sir! That would be great! We are starting our own business for whenever it snows. We plan to go down the entire street and clear snow out for people. Then we can save up our money for something we want!”
As I listened to them and about their great ambitions for being snow clearers, I thought about our work here at Neighboring Movement and how we talk about the importance of local economy in neighborhoods. Often times, we look for resources outside the neighborhood to get what we need instead of inside of the neighborhood. Healthy neighborhoods find ways to support local business ventures to keep money in the neighborhood.
Here was a small opportunity to make a micro-investment in the neighborhood, by supporting these young entrepreneurs!
After the boys finished shoveling snow, I went inside and took them the money.
“Sorry guys, I ran out of dollar bills, but I have plenty of quarters.”
”Oh that’s okay! Money is money!” they said.
“Fair point,” I thought. “Anything we can offer when someone is just getting started is enough.”
So, any time you have some young friends in your neighborhood come to your door, asking to do some work, please consider paying them to do it. That little investment has the potential to make a long term difference in your neighborhood and to put some money in their hands. Who knows, maybe some day they might just be your community’s next local business!