So, what do you imagine is the best way possible to engage the community? Walk to each home and have a chat? Stand around in shopping centres handing out fliers? Hold public meetings? Invent a festival? Nope, nope, nope and nope.
The best way to engage a community is to give away free stuff! It's simple, it's tested, it works! The latest person to do this is Lou Piccone. This Sunday (31st October) Piccone's Shopping Centre at Edmonton will play host to the very first Edmonton Lions Community Markets. It will run from 8-1 and it will be in that spot every single week from now on.
Sounds great but how do you get people to come? Give them stuff! There will be 4 shopping vouchers up for grabs, several raffles, free face painting and balloons for the kids and unbelievable deals on alcoholic beverages from his brand new, huge, bottleshop. If that's not enough to get you there, nothing will.
The stalls will fill most of the carpark and be entirely undercover so no umbrellas required (although the weather looks pretty good anyway), there is an emphasis on fresh and locally made, so I can get my watermelon and pineapples while buying up big on handmade cards and fabulous jewels. There will be stalls selling specialised birthday invitation packs for busy mums to buy, a stall where you can line up to sign letters of support for a repeal of the Abortion Law and discuss it if you want information, raffles to fund-raise for local clubs, dance groups and whoever else needs our help. This is a local market, by local people, supporting the local community.
The ideology behind it is made abundantly clear when you discover where the cash goes from the sale of the stalls. At $20 a pop it's cheap to buy but also makes a nice sum of money, so where does it all go? The money gets divided amongst Bentley Park College, St Therese's Primary School, Hambledon Primary School and Isabella Primary School. If there is a fifth week in the month, that extra cash goes to the Lions Club. More winners from a fabulous initiative and all worthy of their reward.
In order for this great idea to work.....people have got to go! I will be there Sunday, I hope you will be too. What a great way to have some fun, grab some bargains and support our community. It doesn't get much better than that.