Another Reason to Support San Jose Local Businesses: Spaces for Social Good
According to the U.S Department of Commerce-National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), local, small businesses employ 57.3% of private workforce in America but aside from keeping U.S economy afloat, more impactful is the positive social contribution in providing community spaces, which we experienced first hand on the night of the Mayweather vs. Canelo fight [September 14, 2013].
While loading laundry at Family Wash Coin Laundry, our ears caught on to a conversation in Spanish. A middle-aged female and an older male were experiencing difficulties with two high rent increases within a 7 month span. Since we had our laptops on hand, we decided to look up housing resources. We wrote them down, apologized for eavesdropping and handed them two handwritten copies.We listened to Maria* and Carlos* as they informed us about some housing injustices that both college students and recent immigrant families experience in downtown San Jose. According to Maria*, the landlord is hiking up the rent to drive out low income, recent immigrants and entice college students to live in substandard housing because they are more willing to settle due to its proximity to campus. Listening to fellow community members helped us understand some hardships being faced in the so-called affluent Silicon Valley. At the laundry mat, we had the opportunity to listen to fellow community member needs, to empathize with each other’s experiences, and share resources. As a result, we see community interconnectedness and support being created in downtown San Jose, and their potential to occur in local businesses.
As we loaded our laundry in the car, we smelled barbeque in the air and heard people at a back parking lot having what looked like a birthday party. Our inner party animal took hold and we thought, “Let’s crash!” As we approached, a man welcomed us into the building and told us to grab some food in the backroom. As we walked into the main room, we saw 70-80 men, kids, and women standing and sitting in comfy barber chairs and on the black and white checkered floor. Beautiful, diverse, and excited faces were glued to the screen cheering or booing as they watched Maywether jab Canelo. We had just walked into the Barber’s Inc. Barbershop on a community “Fight Night”.
In an interview, Dave Diggs, Owner and Barber, shared that he was inspired to have community “Fight Nights” because growing up he remembered going to them and spending time with family and friends. Mr. Diggs also wanted to show appreciation to his customers, invite new customers and give the local community a chance to socialize. After the fight, we took a tour of the shop and spotted a poster where Barber’s Inc. teamed up with SJSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha to do “Kutz-4-Kids”, a community volunteer service event that provided free hair cuts and school supplies to local San Jose elementary, middle school and high school youth. A couple weeks later I followed up with Mr.Diggs, and he informed me that Barber’s Inc. is helping the Salvation Army with donations this Thanksgiving. I also learned that during staff meetings, Mr. Diggs and the Barber’s Inc. team have collective educative workshops from life insurance to new cutting techniques as a means to support each other. The Barber’s Inc team is inspiring in that it provides an innovative business model that teaches the community that a good business not only provides great service but also creates social good for the local community.
The importance of the community spaces is that it allows local people to feel more interconnected through socializing and helping others. The community spaces are or have the potential to be a strong force to distribute community resources and information. Both spaces have intergenerational, multi-cultural, and diverse socio-economic audiences that make them powerful hubs for community work and development. Although city life and westernized thinking promote individualistic and isolating tendencies, community spaces counter those effects by allowing people to engage each other and share experiences together.
Please email us about other innovative local businesses that do social good.
Jeanette Ramos, Independent Police Auditor Intern, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amalia Renteria, Co-founder of Women Rising Collective, email@example.com
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