January 21, 2013
In a recent conversation with some of my Fast Horse pals, we questioned whether neighborhood solidarity exists in our times. Whether people in this digital age make an effort to get to know the people they live next to.
Do kids still come out on a summer’s night to play kick the can while parents stand watch from front lawns? I know Edina takes a lot of heat as the land of the cake eaters, but in my 20 years in the area, I see more community building than cake eating.
I recently witnessed the most profound and touching display of this yet. Not long ago, an 8-year-old Edina boy, Quinn Kirsch, died suddenly of heart failure. News of these kinds of tragic events always travels fast, but in this case (as you can imagine) news raced at the speed of light.
Someone, to whom I offer my gratitude for their compassion and leadership at a time of great sorrow, organized a tribute, a tribute my marketing brain categorized as a cause marketing program. Only this time, no brand or agency sponsored the effort. No money changed hands. Capitalism was absent.
Through word of mouth, email, text messages, social channels and an impromptu display in one of the local hardware stores, people throughout my community urged each other to buy green balloons and fly them in front of their homes on Jan. 10 in honor of little Quinn. The chain email I received said Quinn was a big fan of Edina Hockey and the team’s color is green.
When I drove to work on Thursday morning, I saw many homes in my tiny neighborhood flying the balloons. As I turned the corner, I saw many more. And, as I made my way to 50th street, the display from France Avenue to Highway 100 took my breath away.
As with many community building events, word of this effort traveled fast and participation neared 100%. Our local hardware store filled nearly 6,000 balloons. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to this little boy and offer comfort to his family and friends. I can only conclude that community building, at least in Edina, remains a part of the modern age. In this case, digital channels helped spread the word quickly and brought people together in a blink of an eye in an amazing display of unity, comfort and healing during a time of great grief.
January 21, 2013