If you had asked me a couple of years ago what home is, I would have said, “well, where my family is” or “West Michigan – I’ve always lived here.”
But what really makes home home?
Just over a year ago, I went on a big adventure. Four day road trip from Michigan ending in Ventura, California – my new town. I quickly realized that I had taken for granted the other elements of what makes a home – a supportive community and local businesses.
So I began to explore and meet people who have helped me build connection to place.
When I first moved and was searching for a job, I would start my mornings with a walk from my house down the beach to this darling coffee shop (Kay’s Coffee Shop) and talk with the owner. Not only is their coffee fantastic, they locally-source their coffee and teas, and sell handmade pottery from a neighborhood artist (Lorna Christian).
I know my waitress by name at my favorite breakfast joint (Pete’s Breakfast House) and leave with a smile and a fully belly every time. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Nature’s Grill and The Farmer and The Cook - two of the best natural food restaurants in town).
I used B Corporation’s “Find a B Corp” search tool to find out businesses that are a part of the movement in my town. So far Ventura has two B Corps - Patagonia (of course) and The Refill Shoppe, a body and home bulk liquids store on Main Street.
I’ve spent a couple Fridays last fall picking and then canning my own raspberries and Roma tomatoes from Underwood Family Farms. I love this farm because they are community-education oriented (and have lots of opportunities for family fun on the farm). This January I became a CSA member with one of my coworkers. We split a huge box of veggies every week and I love experimenting with new recipes and adding variety to my diet.
On weekends I like to take advantage of the area bike trails and head up to Ojai, with a pit stop at The Ojai Beverage Company (where you can sometimes find Founders on tap). Or I might go for a long hike in the mountains in Malibu and refuel at the iconic restaurant and surf spot Neptune’s Net.
Through local businesses, I connect to my place in a new way. I’ve met so many interesting people and become a regular at a few shops and local hangouts. Most importantly, I’m becoming more rooted in this new community that I call home.
Grand Rapids is a city of change agents! Just look at what they did in the last 6 months.