Many conversations about membership in the Chamber of Commerce (and membership renewal) start with, "What has the chamber done for me?" The question evokes immediate shame that we haven't done a good job communicating all the things we are doing for the business community. But the question also provokes me to ask, "Good question. What has the Chamber done for you?" The Estes Chamber of Commerce is not a person, it's not an elected official (or even funded by the town) and it's not a marketing organization. (It's also NOT the Estes Park Chamber of Commerce if you've camped out there on Facebook. We're @esteschamberofcommerce.) The chamber is not its Executive Director or its Board; the Chamber is it's members.
WE are the Chamber of Commerce.
We started the year with a book club on one of my favorites, "Creating We" -- which uses the metaphor of the ecosystem of the body to talk about how every part counts. To flip the metaphor inside out, I grabbed a book off of Mary Banken's bookshelf called "Radical Amazement." Chapter 8 talks about holon theory. "Whole what?" To simplify, holon theory (if you're a quantum physics geek) asserts that we are all parts of a whole. Every chamber member is a whole business made up of owners and employees who are all whole persons. They work in a whole building made up of multiple neighboring businesses. Every building on the block makes up a business sector, like the Saint Vrain corridor, the West End of Elkhorn, or Fall River Road. Everyone of those corridors has a set of unique needs as a business corridor, but all those businesses form part of the tax base that keeps our whole community running. We are all parts of a whole. The chamber is not one person with sneakers on. The chamber is us – a collective voice that gains strength in numbers.
An individual can complain and write letters to the town board, but as a whole organization, we can ask as one collective voice how the town is spending paid parking revenue to benefit the downtown corridor. We can ask how the town is taking into account the business needs of vacation rental owners in balance with the needs of the community. A strongly worded letter can be effective in advocating for your need, but a letter that represents the collective voices of hundreds has much more impact.
As an employee of the Chamber I am an administrator of that united voice, but the work of the Chamber is the work that you and I do to collectively use that voice. We are the chamber, you and I. One of the ways we're doing that is creating an alliance of downtown business owners. We only have about five people interested so far, so I'm asking you as a business owner, "What are you
doing to be a part of a stronger collective voice?"
Stay in touch with ways to get involved with the Estes Chamber.