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Attitudes Shapes the Altitude of Local Communities

05 February 2024

In the community revitalization game, attitude is a powerful thread weaving through the fabric of small local communities. The altitude, or the collective success and well-being of these communities, is linked to the attitudes of its individuals.


Research shows the positive correlation between a positive attitude and individual success. In small local communities, this correlation is amplified, creating a domino effect that elevates the entire community's altitude. A positive mindset fosters resilience, cooperation, and a willingness to tackle challenges collectively. According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, as would be expected, communities with a higher prevalence of positive attitudes exhibit lower crime rates, improved economic prospects, and enhanced overall well-being.


Figures don't lie: Communities that embrace a positive outlook often experience increased civic engagement. Volunteers, driven by a sense of community and shared purpose, contribute more hours to local initiatives. This heightened civic participation results in improved infrastructure, better educational opportunities, and a more vibrant social environment. The numbers speak for themselves, showcasing the tangible benefits that stem from a community-wide commitment to positivity.


On the flip side, a negative attitude can act as a cancerous force, destroying the foundations of a small community. Studies by the World Health Organization reveal a direct link between negative attitudes and declining mental health. In communities where pessimism prevails, you find noticeable increases in stress-related disorders, substance abuse, and social isolation.


Logic dictates that a negative mindset fosters a culture of blame and mistrust, hindering collaboration and stifling innovation. As individuals retreat into a self-preserving mode, communal growth falters. The altitude of the community becomes a victim of the collective descent into negativity, this results in a decline in economic opportunities, social cohesion, and overall prosperity.


Social capital, often defined as the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, emerges as a key player in determining community altitude. Attitude serves as the currency fueling the exchange within these social networks. Where positive attitudes prevail, social capital flourishes, leading to an array of benefits.


A Harvard study on social capital, highlights that communities with high social capital enjoy increased trust, improved cooperation, and enhanced problem-solving capabilities. Positive attitudes act as the lubricant that soothes the wheels of social interactions, creating an environment conducive to collective progress.


As you might expect, communities plagued by negative attitudes experience a depletion of social capital. Trust erodes, communication breaks down, and collaboration becomes a rarity. The resulting social fragmentation inhibits the flow of information and resources, hindering the community's ability to adapt and thrive.


Attitude not only shapes the social fabric of small local communities but also leaves its mark on their economic landscape. Positive attitudes drive entrepreneurship and innovation, leading to economic growth. According to a report by the Small Business Administration, communities with a high prevalence of positive attitudes among entrepreneurs experience a higher rate of business startups and, subsequently, job creation.


In contrast, negativity stifles economic development. An International Monetary Fund study shows communities with negative outlooks are less likely to attract external investment. The perception of a community as unwelcoming or resistant to change turns off potential investors, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of economic stagnation.


Make no mistake, the community attitude determines whether the community soars to greater heights or descends into the pits of despair. The power of positive attitudes will propel communities to greater heights, fosters resilience, encourages cooperation, and economic prosperity. Conversely, the cancerous force of negativity drags communities into a downward spiral, eroding social capital, inhibiting economic growth, and compromises their well-being. Individually, we must understand the difference we can make as architects of community attitude.  We must be mindful of the profound influence we wield in shaping the collective altitude of our communities.


John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Speaker, & Publisher. He consults with Chambers, Communities, Business & Media. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column appears in 60+ newspapers and media outlets. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists chambers, communities, media, and businesses in creating synergies that build vibrant communities. He can be reached at: John@Truly-Local.org.