I’ve been a part of the RTP community for a long while now. Recently, I’ve been reflecting upon what that really means, and wanted to share some thoughts on how RTP and The Frontier are building a place where community members have a voice and the relationships are real.
The other week I was helping my dad move furniture at the beach. Moving furniture is way down there on my list of “fun things to do”, even below getting a root canal at the dentist. We started at 6am, and within the first hour, we had already filled an entire truckload. I was sure that we’d be done in no time. The storage unit we were using is owned by my dad’s cousin. Naturally, my dad insisted on stopping into the front office to say hello. 45 minutes later, we were finally heading back out of the office. We had just started the drive back to load up the second set of furniture when my dad’s phone starting buzzing. It was his college roommate asking if we had lunch plans. Before I knew it, we were on the way to meet Craig for lunch.
We finally left the beach a little after 3pm. On the way home I mentioned, “we could have been done hours ago if we had not stopped in to talk to Bill and had lunch with Craig.”
Without missing a beat, my dad turned to me and replied, “those are relationships. What is life without good relationships?”
This comment really struck me as we tend to live in such a constantly connected, yet ultimately disconnected world. My dad spent 45 minutes in a face-to-face conversation with his cousin and an hour and a half at lunch with his best friend, all to maintain relationships that are important to him. As I kept thinking about this, I began to think about the bigger picture. What is a city/area without good community?
The light bulb really went off later that week as I walked out of The Frontier in Research Triangle Park alongside two other gentlemen. One turned to the other and said “I’ll call you later. We might be hanging out at the house tonight. Why don’t you and your wife come over?” I know both of these guys and they become friends through working out of The Frontier.
I’m sure there are numerous stories like the one above where relationships have been formed through the community that has been built by RTP and at The Frontier. I have been a part of the RTP community for almost 4 years, and have enjoyed seeing it grow and flourish. As someone who has always been self-employed, my co-workers have largely consisted of a cat and one other person. As a business owner, it has been a blessing to have been welcomed into the RTP community.
Over the years, these connections made at RTP have become more than just “people I know through work.” These people are my friends. We invite each other over for dinner, play fantasy football in the same league, make bets when our universities play each other in sports, and even become neighbors.
So, What Makes a Good Community?
Membership – The feeling that you belong to something. At The Frontier, you get a sense of membership through knowing you are a part of a movement going on in RTP. A movement that opens the gates of the park to the little guys and girls – the startups and small-medium sized companies. Bonus: This is one membership you don’t have to pay for!
Influence – The Frontier is a place where you have a voice and it is heard. From a Slack channel, to the community white board, to the friendly staff with their doors always open, The Frontier is open for your ideas. All of the programs and initiatives have been shaped by the community and their feedback.
Relationships – The relationships formed go a bit deeper than collecting someone’s business card. This highlights my example above where the two guys got together after work to hang out. It’s one thing to build a book of business cards, but it’s another thing to actually form meaningful relationships.
So, I ask you again, what is a place without community? What is community without good relationships? How can we continue to foster those relationships?