On Social Media


As you’ve probably noticed, the world we live in is social. Everyone is constantly interacting, except today interacting goes far beyond face-to-face conversation. At times, this is definitely frustrating. But, if leveraged properly, utilizing social media platforms to interact with your customer base can bring your business great success. A large part running a business relies on getting your store or product in front of people. And if you are a town or a community -- a lot of times you get additional capacity or funding from additional people or visitors. Online, your social media platforms and your website are the “doorstep” to your business or organization.

Because your social media is a lot like a first impression, it’s important that you keep it as presentable and welcoming as you would your office/store front, at all times.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you leverage your business on social media with the most impact for your time and money in mind.

  1. Save your effort for where you will have an impact. It’s better to be present and fully active on one social media, rather than trying to manage three different platforms and be inconsistent. Being all there on one social media will be much more effective than being everywhere.

  2. Focus in on posting quality content. The most popular social medias, Facebook and Instagram, are visual applications. This means that producing aesthetically pleasing content is essential if you want to catch the eyes of potential customers. So don’t settle. Hire a photographer, or utilize nearby college students for help.

  3. Use a scheduling app to plan your posts ahead of time and keep things consistent. In order for customers to develop a deep connection to your business/brand, they need to be exposed to what you’re doing as much as possible. This means that posting on social media can’t fall to a “when I get to it” task. Instead, we recommend that you use free mediums, like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule your posts ahead of time, lowering your chances to forget to post and ultimately losing customer interest.

  4. Get to know your target-market like the back of your hand… or better! What is the age group that you are trying to attract? What do they like? Where do they go? Every time you use social media you should be thinking about these aspects of your target-market and address them accordingly. If your target-market is 25 year old men for example, it’s important that you engage with them in the ways that they like to interact, AKA don’t talk to them like you’re talking to your Grandma; use appropriate slang and try and connect to them based on their interests and way of doing things.

  5. User-generated content is your friend! Believe it or not, your customers are already doing a lot of the work for you when it comes to social media. People love taking pictures and posting pictures -- especially the younger generations. This means that there is a great chance that there are already quality photos on the internet from your store/business. Use these! People feel really special when businesses use their photos. This will also help you develop more personal relationships with your customers and ease some of your stress to create quality content all the time.

On Lindsay


Hi! My name is Lindsay Reeth and I am the Events and Programming Intern for Motley! I am also in my final semester at Elon University, working to complete a major in Human Service Studies and minors in Leadership, Psychology, and Teaching and Learning.

Although my majors and minors have provided me with many skills and insights for working effectively with people, I would say that the most impactful experiences of my college career have come from outside the classroom. I have spent the past four years at Elon exploring the beautiful state of North Carolina, taking advantage of all it has to offer. I can wholeheartedly say that I have found my truest sense of place in the blooming old mill towns, the majestic mountains, and the vibrant farmers markets. Immersing myself in these unique communities and getting to know the people whose hearts make up the character that is North Carolina has been the driving force behind my deep passion for people and where they come from.

I am someone who thrives off building relationships and forming connections with people of all different backgrounds — I believe that getting to know someone means learning about what makes them feel most alive, and I have never felt a deeper sense of this than when walking down the main street of a small town in North Carolina. The decorated store fronts reflect what each and every small business owner feels the world needs more of, and there is something truly special about that.

So even though I am graduating Elon in a few short months, I will never leave behind the sense of belonging that these communities have brought into my heart. North Carolina, you have made my love for people grow stronger and my passion for communities much deeper.

"Alone we can do so little, but together can do so much."
- Hellen Keller

On Being Right


Community development is a learning process. It is also an organic process. Because of this, there is very little black and white, or room to be right or wrong.

There are bad practices and best practices. There are things that should not be promoted within the community (like theft, bad business and lawlessness). There are best practices that should be supported and sustained (like safety precautions, making environmentally friendly choices and inclusivity).

We have been in communities where two options have presented themselves, and both could arguably be right.

An old mill building was purchased by a church. The church then wanted to use the mill building as a gym and family life center for their congregation. The build out and renovation was too expensive to make the project feasible. The church obtained permits to tear the mill down. The community pleaded with the church to let the old building stay. Community members had connections to investors who wanted to make the site into a live/work development.

Instead, the mill was torn down.

Are either sides inherently bad? No. Do I have an opinion on what should have been done? Yes. But at the end of the day, community development is about growing the community in question into their best selves. There is no 10-step instruction guide to community development. It is a lot of small movements that fold into larger ripple effects.

It’s like making biscuits from your grandmother's recipe, not the Pillsbury can. It’s a lot more eyeballing and testing the texture and outcome of the addition of each ingredient. It’s a lot less of the straight forward, step-by-step instructions.

What are the ingredients? What is the collaboration that you need for community development?

You will need facets like engaged community, art, involved staff members and partner organizations.
You will need space to play and develop.
You will need businesses who are bought into a larger vision and so much more.

But the cool thing about community development is that it can start with a sidewalk chalk festival or a local battle of the bands night. Communities start to build, bind and thrive with care and intentionality. It starts with picking up trash or putting an encouraging sticker on a light pole.

So, some questions that you can ask your community today, what are the small steps that we are taking today to lead us to where we will be tomorrow? Where do we want to be tomorrow, and are we taking the small steps to lead us in that direction?

On Benevolence

“Community development is a process where people come together to take action on what's important to them. At its heart, community development is rooted in the belief that all people should have access to health, wellbeing, wealth, justice and opportunity.”

-- Scottish Community Development Center

At Motley, we believe this to our core. It’s the whole reason we took this jump and started a business. We love being business owners and the process it takes to start something new. We love creating something unique, special, intentional and independently ours in this world.

But really, we believe that this work is important and needs champions to stand up and do the work, be it glamorous or dirty.

A mentor once told us that we will be successful in the work that we do only when we truly care. No other measurement holds as much value in this work. If I don’t care, I can try to conquer a project. If I don’t care, I can seek praise and recognition. If I don’t care, I can execute the best event and branding efforts, but the wake of the project could negatively affect the community. Without personal investment, success really has no legs.

Community development to us is about caring for people. People make up this brilliant world we live in. We do the work that we do to promote emotional, physical and financial wellbeing for our neighbors, sisters and brothers in our communities. We believe in justice and the well-keeping of humans in their natural state: cared for.

This business is a passion project, a calling, a joy and a challenge for us all in one. It challenges us every day to be better humans, for ourselves, for each other and for everyone we come into contact with along the way. It challenges us to walk in someone else’s shoes and to always look for the other perspective.

So, if you see things on this site, our Instagram or our Facebook that are a little too personal or seem more about us and less about community development in a scientific way, it's because this is more than a science to us. We love books that talk about sidewalks and ordinances, but we also love books that talk about our vulnerability and how humans feel safe and dare bigger. We want to share music that makes us feel alive. We want to promote art that allows us to experience diversity. Community development has become a lifestyle for us, something that makes us delve into our humanness, and it’s something we celebrate.

On Rallying

Image by @18millionrising

Image by @18millionrising

To those who marched this weekend, way to stand up and have your voice heard. We are glad to be part of communities where rallies can be a time/place for us to voice our opinions. This is a huge win for many.

This is my fear, rallies are often a privileged opportunity. And, if your voice and opinion don’t include upholding other voices, then we might actually just be repeating a cycle.

Take time to consider who your community is. What do you want it to be? Who do you want to uphold and safeguard? Who should be included in your utopia of a downtown? Who do you want to pass on the streets and wave to while checking your mail?

Communities are loved and broken and celebrated and torn apart, day in and day out.

Motley’s vision is for all communities to be valued for their inherent values and social beauty.  This means envisioning a world where the refugee caravans and the block of Rauhut Street in East Burlington are celebrated, upheld and loved. But, not only envisioning it, but working daily towards a world where this is a reality.

So, my words to you today, my challenge to you, my call to action, is to take that utopia of a community that you have envisioned and make it your reality. If that means moving to a place that embodies that more, do that. If that means changing the way you walk to work, do that. If it means changing up the place where you grab a drink on the weekends so that you can patronize a locally owned/minority owned/artist owned business, do that.

There are times where our team gets questions for visiting a place, or patronizing businesses in certain parts of town. We place ourselves there intentionally. We want stigmas to disappear. We want to be part of the change.

So, keep marching. Keep having your voice heard. But I would challenge you, as we challenge our team, to represent smaller voices as well. Let’s not keep the cycle of oppression going as we stand up for issues that matter to us. And, as you make your voice heard, work daily toward making your dream a reality.

On Practical Steps

Hi Community!

So you want to live in a really cool place? And you are, in some way, tied to the current place you live? Here is a quick run through of the tools we use in our initial assessments. We hope that these are helpful for you as you lean into and claim your community.

  1. Find your group. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to build a town. Look for others who are excited about some of the same things you are excited about. You need these people, for sharing ideas and the man power to make those ideas happen.

  2. Walk through your town with fresh eyes. There are two ways that you can focus your attention:

    1. What is great? Colorful? Inspiring? Do more of that. Elevate those things. Showcase them. Is there a theater that shows your favorite movies? A favorite mural? A festival that is the pride of your town?

    2. What is hard to read? Ugly? Neglected? Fix this with intention. Spend some time rethinking how it could be better. Have you ever tried to find your downtown from getting off the closest interstate exit by only using signs to direct you? Can you make your way without getting lost? Is there a sad/empty planter box that needs love? A mailbox that would brighten up your driveway with an added coat of paint?

  3. Pick a project. Make sure it’s small, low budget, and has lots of heart. We have found projects work best with either a well-defined lifetime (Pick an end date and stick to it! If it goes well, you can always launch phase two) or a well-thought out sustainability plan (These are very hard to ensure, so an end date is always our recommendation. An end date always leaves a fresh slate of new ideas from where another project can launch from.)

  4. Tell the world about what you did! Press releases, social media posts, and word of mouth! Projects inspire others that have their own project ideas. Before long, you will have a chain reaction of other projects and can see the ripple effects of your efforts.

  5. Tell us about them! We want to hear. Having a hard time thinking through project details or coming up with a tangible idea? Shoot us an email. We have loads of ideas and would love to help you formulate something amazing for the place you call home.

On Persistence


I was in a conversation with a friend the other day. For a bit the conversation was about the relationship they were in - the connection, the frustrations, the adoration, the hope, the challenges, the annoyances.

Then, the conversation drifted to the community that they have claimed. The themes surprised me by how similar they were. The hopes, challenges, frustrations, adoration were all still there. The questions about how long the connection would last, the stories that bring the love to life.

Living in a place with a community and loving it well is often romanticized. I can tell you that loving a place will bring it to life and make it a place where you want to be, but as soon as that love fades, or the butterflies about the wonder or magic of a place leaves, it’s easy to jump ship.

It’s easy to pick a different place. A different community. A different love. It’s like a bad Hallmark movies - new trends, new commitment.

Loving a place isn’t something that’s easy. We find the deepest commitment to place, the most honorable adoration comes from when you feel the most frustration, but also enough passion to find connect and support for your place.

So, our challenge and charge to those who live in the places that you adore - be all there, share your happy moments, your frustrations, make grand gestures, but also take the time to pick a piece of trash off the sidewalk (maybe for the twelfth time).

Motley is here, to cheer you on and support you through the work that you are doing. We would love to hear your love stories, Dear John letters and pink slips written to your communities.

2018: A List of Greats

2018 was an incredible year for us. We started Motley and have learned so much about ourselves and the work that we do. Here’s a list of some of our favorite things from this past year that inspired our work and cast vision.

Camp North End

Camp North End is a historic industrial site that used to produce Model Ts and Army missiles. It now serves as a hub for creativity and innovation in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. We absolutely love this reuse project and the way Camp North End has created space to engage Charlotte’s entrepreneurs, artists, and community builders. See for yourself.

This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick

We had the privilege of working with Melody this year and have loved having her voice, vision, and insight as we build our business. Her book is an incredible starting point for learning about place attachment and what it means personally and for your community. Buy it here!

Union Coffee Co

Union Coffee Co in Greensboro, North Carolina has been a business crush of ours. They just opened their doors in November and have done a fantastic job at activating the local community. They have provided an incredible atmosphere for us to work, create, and dream this year. Check ‘em out.

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University

Hedges, Edges, Dirt is an exhibition at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. The exhibit considers how we relate to our surroundings and to each other, whether we are rooted in place or in transition. It’s beautiful and inspiring and brought creative intentionality into our work. Have a look.

French Kiwi Juice

The soundtrack of our startup. Listennnn.

Austin Channing Brown

Blaine got the opportunity to meet Austin Channing Brown this past summer. She wrote a book, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, that changed the way we looked at diversity in our organization and the world. Grab a copy here.

How to Revive a Neighborhood: With Imagination, Beauty, and Art

Theaster Gate’s TED Talk was one of our favorite discoveries of 2018. He describes his efforts to build a "miniature Versailles" in Chicago, and he shares his belief that culture can be a catalyst for social transformation in any city, anywhere. Watch it here.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

ZAMM takes a deep dive on how we live and how we can live better. Take a summer motorcycle trip across America's Northwest and combine it with a story of love, fear, growth, discovery and acceptance -- a gooood read that brought simplicity back into our work. Snag it here.

Thank you for being a part of our year! We can’t wait for 2019 and all that’s in store.

On Value


In the work we do, we hear a lot of people trying to one-up each other on how horrible their hometowns are, bad mouthing big cities, down talking rural towns or anything in between.

It takes an intentional perspective to observe, appreciate and understand that every place has meaning. Every place has a reason for existing. Every place serves a need.

The history of a place, how it came to be, who crafted it, the industry and the nature --  all of these things teach us something about how we were as a society, about how we are to be as people -- to care better for nature, to innovate based on past practices.

Just as people are very different iterations of what a human being is, hometowns, downtowns and suburbs are all so different in how a place can be and reflect our being human.

Humans are raised with tendencies, this you know. We all have likes and dislikes, but a lot of these opinions are formed based on the habitats we are raised in. If you were raised on a busy street in NYC in a fifth-floor walk-up, visiting a country homestead might feel suffocating because there is very little diversity, movement or access.

However, there are cases when you’re raised in one place and form opposite likes from what you’re raised with. Growing up on that same busy street in NYC, the noise of trash trucks and traffic and people literally living on top of each other, country roads might be fulfilling your greatest desires of having your own air, space and self-curated lawn.

How a place changes, bends and transitions can be a beautiful and telling indicator. And there is so much to learn from here.

For all of these reasons, we try not to rank places. We all have our favorite places of course, due to fond memories, life phases, etc. It’s not because one place is better than another. Just as humans all hold inherent value, all places hold inherent value.

It’s Motley’s work to recognize that inherent value and showcase that value to the world through storytelling so that others can see the best and potential version of a place.

On Boundaries

duong-chung-765395-unsplash 2.jpg

Boundaries, whether physical or abstract, are everywhere in our day-to-day lives. We live in a world where the “American dream” includes a white picket fence -- something to keep our dogs in and our neighbors out. We put up hedges and we draw county lines.

We set boundaries between ourselves and our work. We want healthy boundaries between ourselves and the people we love. We have to create boundaries between ourselves and our fears enough to move forward on a crazy idea.

Places are good and not meant to exclude. Boundaries are good in the abstract, but physical boundaries tend to hurt communities and keep certain people out.

As Motley, we want to create spaces that know no bounds. Places that are for the visitors, the regulars, the passer-throughs and anyone who has ever felt left out of the conversation before.

This holiday season and beyond, we invite you to be a neighbor -- to open up the gate, to trim the hedges, to truly welcome the people in your life by creating spaces full of love.