If you had asked me a couple of years ago what home is, I would have said, “well, where my family is” or “West Michigan – I’ve always lived here.”
But what really makes home home?
Just over a year ago, I went on a big adventure. Four day road trip from Michigan ending in Ventura, California – my new town. I quickly realized that I had taken for granted the other elements of what makes a home – a supportive community and local businesses.
So I began to explore and meet people who have helped me build connection to place.
When I first moved and was searching for a job, I would start my mornings with a walk from my house down the beach to this darling coffee shop (Kay’s Coffee Shop) and talk with the owner. Not only is their coffee fantastic, they locally-source their coffee and teas, and sell handmade pottery from a neighborhood artist (Lorna Christian).
I know my waitress by name at my favorite breakfast joint (Pete’s Breakfast House) and leave with a smile and a fully belly every time. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Nature’s Grill and The Farmer and The Cook - two of the best natural food restaurants in town).
I used B Corporation’s “Find a B Corp” search tool to find out businesses that are a part of the movement in my town. So far Ventura has two B Corps - Patagonia (of course) and The Refill Shoppe, a body and home bulk liquids store on Main Street.
I’ve spent a couple Fridays last fall picking and then canning my own raspberries and Roma tomatoes from Underwood Family Farms. I love this farm because they are community-education oriented (and have lots of opportunities for family fun on the farm). This January I became a CSA member with one of my coworkers. We split a huge box of veggies every week and I love experimenting with new recipes and adding variety to my diet.
On weekends I like to take advantage of the area bike trails and head up to Ojai, with a pit stop at The Ojai Beverage Company (where you can sometimes find Founders on tap). Or I might go for a long hike in the mountains in Malibu and refuel at the iconic restaurant and surf spot Neptune’s Net.
Through local businesses, I connect to my place in a new way. I’ve met so many interesting people and become a regular at a few shops and local hangouts. Most importantly, I’m becoming more rooted in this new community that I call home.
When it comes to business, it is easy to think about bottom line profits, growth, scalability and outperforming the competition. While those are all important aspects, there are countless other factors.