• If the industry puts its considerable weight behind an initiative to help our neighborhoods, it has the potential to be a tipping point to change things for the better.
  • On November 19, 2016, we are inviting every Inman reader to join us in an effort to spruce up our communities.

As we face one of the most divisive and violent time periods in our history, a time where many feel helpless and that their dreams for the future may never be fulfilled, it can be tempting to give way to the pessimism — don’t!

We can make a difference together, and here’s what the real estate industry can do to turn the tide.

On the way back from CEO Connect at Facebook headquarters earlier this month, I sat next to Exit Realty CEO Tami Bonnell.

Bonnell and I were talking about how divisive the upcoming Presidential election has become. The conversation then turned to what could be done to bring people back together while simultaneously improving the communities we serve.

I noted an interesting fact from Clotaire Rapaille’s new book Move Up: Why Some Cultures Advance While Others Don’t.

Rapaille points to Singapore as being one of the most profound examples of how a country turned itself around. When Singapore separated from Malyasia in 1964, it had no land, natural resources, economy or agriculture.

Today, Singapore has a surplus of $55 billion, an unemployment rate of 2 percent, and the average person earns $60,000 (U.S.) per year.

Singapore’s leader, Lee Kuan Yew, attributed the country’s success to one word: clean.

Bonnell shared her experience regarding what happens to the neighborhood where they build a Habitat for Humanity house: One year later, the entire neighborhood has improved.

That led me to wonder: What if the real estate community could come together in a massive one-day grassroots effort nationwide to spruce up as many homes and neighborhoods as possible — especially in those areas where the residents may lack the funds or the ability to make those changes themselves?

We both agreed that if the industry put its considerable weight behind an initiative to help our neighborhoods, it had the potential to be a tipping point to change things for the better.

When the door swings open, walk through it

That night my mind was buzzing about how this could work. My experience has been that when I’m supposed to be involved in something, the doors swing open effortlessly. That’s exactly what happened during the next 24 hours.

As I was dashing to a 7 a.m. meeting, I saw Morgan Brown, the COO of Inman, standing in line for coffee. I gave him a 90-second pitch, and he told me he felt Inman staff would be interested in supporting such an event.

Throughout the day, I kept bumping into influencers who were willing to have their companies join the effort.

By the end of the day, I had commitments from CEOs and senior executives from some of the biggest brands in the industry that they would fully support this initiative within their companies.

November 19, 2016 — Spruce Up Day

“Spruce up” means “The act of improving the overall appearance; cleaning up, refurbishing or renovating.”

On November 19, 2016, we are inviting every Inman reader — every real estate professional, affiliate service provider, vendor and their clients — to join us in this effort to spruce up our communities.

The idea is simple. Buy some flats of flowers and plant them, clean up trash from a public area, or help someone else in need to improve something about where they live.

You can ask your sellers if there is someone in their neighborhood who would appreciate your help raking leaves or cleaning up their property.

If you want to go big, make sure that you have the appropriate insurance, written permission to use a public place, and permissions to enter and/or do work on someone else’s property.

20 ways to participate

There are hundreds of ways to participate. Below are just a few — share what you have done in the past in the comments section.

It makes no difference how you participate — it’s becoming involved that matters.

  1. Arrange for bulk pickup of large trash and discarded items through your local trash collection service.
  2. Clean up a beach or a local waterway.
  3. Collect recyclables and take them to a recycling center.
  4. Collect anti-freeze, oil, batteries, paint and other potentially toxic substances and arrange for a safe disposal of these items.
  5. Help install storm windows for someone who is unable to do so.
  6. Identify a specific group’s building or home that you would like to help spruce up, (for example, Wounded Warriors, a group home that serves the needs of disabled adults, etc.)
  7. Invite local businesses to support the effort — restaurants that may want to contribute food, water or soft drinks, contractors willing to volunteer their time, and so on.
  8. Invite local places of worship to participate and to help to identify those who need assistance.
  9. Mulch plants at a local park.
  10. Obtain coupons from a local home improvement store for needed tools and materials.
  11. Pass out batteries for smoke detectors and recycle the old ones.
  12. Paint over graffiti.
  13. Pick up trash on the roads or streets.
  14. Plant flowers, bulbs or other cold-resistant plants.
  15. Rake leaves out of garden beds and borders. Shred or leave them whole and place them in a compost pile.
  16. Repair, paint and/or upgrade the equipment at a local playground.
  17. Replace broken windows.
  18. Set up a local Facebook and Instagram page to share what you are doing in your neighborhood on Spruce Up Day. Invite your friends and followers to join your efforts as well as to post about what they are doing.
  19. Spruce up a local school.
  20. Start a Habitat for Humanity House on Spruce Up Day or work with your local chapter of Rebuilding Together on one of their projects.
  21. Use a kayak or a boat to clean up debris you can’t reach from land.

Share what you and/or your company have done

Please feel free to use the comments part of this post to contribute ideas that our readers could use as we move forward leading to Spruce Up Day.

The website is www.SpruceUpDay.com. The Facebook page is also live.

On Spruce Up Day

Make it fun, make it engaging, and post what you do on both the national Facebook Spruce Up Day site as well as your local Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

Post before and after pictures — tell the story and get others involved.

Spruce Up Days 2017

It is our hope that the industry will support a Spruce Up Day the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year as well as one in early May.

We invite you to join this effort in whatever way works for you.

Stay tuned for more ways to participate in Spruce Up Day and to keep a positive conversation about the results and future possibilities going throughout the year.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent

Email Bernice Ross.

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