It’s long been said that America is all about rugged individualism, and that is true to some extent. But while being as self-sufficient as you can be is an admirable trait, it takes one only so far, says Quint Studer. People need people in order to really live—and nowhere is that truth more evident than in the massive community revitalization movement that’s happening across America.

“Back when our ancestors landed on our shores, they didn’t head off into the woods to build a log cabin singlehandedly,” notes Studer, author of  Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America.

“No, they banded together in small communities. They worked together, struggled together, cried together, and celebrated together. They shared what they had when they could—and expected others to do the same for them when they needed help. Early Americans had to live this way. Otherwise, they would never have survived in this unfamiliar, unforgiving land.”

For many communities, globalization and technology reshuffled the deck. Much like our forefathers and foremothers, people found themselves lost in uncharted territory. Jobs disappeared. Unemployment skyrocketed. Infrastructure crumbled. Once-bustling downtowns deteriorated. Young people moved away in search of better lives.


Now, we’ve collectively decided to look homeward. We’ve decided to bring our communities back from the brink. And we’re not doing it as a nation of rugged individuals. We’re doing it in small, tight-knit groups as we embrace the spirit of cooperation, collaboration, and partnership.

“Community leaders, business owners, and citizens are deeply engaged and working together to breathe new life into our downtowns,” says Studer. “We’re encouraging entrepreneurs to start new ventures. We’re choosing to eat, drink, play, and shop locally. We’re showing up at street festivals, volunteering, and supporting the institutions that feed, educate, and heal our community.”


“People are finding they can still start a business, make a living, and provide jobs to others,” says Studer. “While a strong local government is part of every vibrant community, in most cases private industry is the backbone. Thriving local business communities lead to long-term prosperity.”

True independence is about working hard, playing hard, building strong relationships with family and friends, and being happy in the place we’ve put down our roots, says Studer. It’s about choosing the kind of life we want to live. And for the most part, this can exist only in the context of community.

          “This Independence Day, I hope you’ll take a moment to be grateful for your community and reflect on what you might do to make it better. Get involved. Find a cause that speaks to you. Share your ideas. Join together with like-minded neighbors and work to make something happen.”

Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community and founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community’s quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties forward. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida. For more information, visit and