One of the beautiful things about the microbial world is the symbiosis with which these tiny beings live. Surprisingly few bacteria are out to destroy and conquer; most seem to just want a quiet nook with their needs met. And in response to that satisfaction, they produce some enzyme or acid needed by some other mild-mannered neighbour. It is surprising how much cooperation there is in our world, if we are willing to look closely enough. It would not be overstating it to say that collaboration, not competition, is what holds life in the balance.
Sadly, human beings often seem out of touch with this principle and that is why I am so pleased to find collaborators among the small-business owners of Northumberland. Owning a small business might set a person up to hold tight to every possible advantage over another, because margins are tight and every penny can make a difference. But I have found more often that people in our area are eager to share space, events and promotion. This makes everything so much more fun!
Perhaps this openness is in part because of our social media age, where the followers of one business can easily network with others and create a stronger connection with an entire community of businesses that way. But I also think that it’s simply more efficient; guarding your own empire takes away from new creations, drains your energy for engaging with a wide range of people and can even leave you behind while the wider community moves with its own momentum. Why fight for every inch when we could work together?
I have also enjoyed this collaborative aspect of running The Living Kitchen because there are businesses I just genuinely like and I want to work with those people! So far this year I have been involved with Loon Song Farm and Lighthouse Books, and am looking forward to speaking at The Natural next Friday. Plus, just this week I reserved some space with The Cellar Door in Brighton for an upcoming workshop – woohoo!! Collaboration is the new competition.