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Upon hearing that a friend of mine was preaching at Living Light Community Church Downtown, I was happy to attend. Dustan Balkcom, community trendsetter and founder of “Ask Me Why I Love Racine,” has a warm aura that makes strangers feel as though he’s their new best friend. In a nutshell, he’s the kind of guy who probably gets asked to join lots and lots of softball leagues each spring.

Dustan, married to the equally alluring Betsy, started the sermon about an atypical subject: investing. Informing the audience on the topic, he shared how (wise) investors are those with vision and resources, accumulating wealth via buying when the market is low and selling when the market is high.

For example, when the housing crisis of 2008 hit, investors scooped up properties at a depressed rate knowing the market would inevitably correct itself and they’d harvest a grand gain. Which, of course, they did.

Investing, the lively Balkcom explained, doesn’t stop at money. Instead, he shared, the best type of investing is right smack dab in our own neighborhood. When we hear of struggle, of people complaining they don’t like the Racine community or schools or (insert grumble here), it’s a bullseye of where to invest.

Imagine, if Racine was a Utopia of rainbows and unicorns, it wouldn’t be prime real estate for even the most mild of affluent investors. When we get real, we know Racine is not Utopia (other than experiencing a runner’s high along North Beach — but that’s for another column). Racine has avenues it could improve, and that is exactly why we should invest.

Investing in our neighborhood can take unlimited forms, a drop-in-the-bucket’s-worth Dustan provided, including keeping our properties clean, shoveling some(one’s) snow, mowing some(one’s) grass, asking our senior neighbors questions, inviting a neighbor over for dinner, throwing a block party, fixing kids’ bikes, picking up trash, writing an encouraging letter to our alderman/Mayor Mason, getting to know our mailman, thanking our garbageman, sitting on our front porch — all of which “Mr. Ask Me Why I Love Racine” himself makes habits of.

Mentioned earlier, investors have both vision and resources. And without question, when we search deep down inside, each and every community member has both. When we see a problem in Racine, it’s time to invest our actions, energy, speech —and yes, even money — knowing it will improve the particular situation.

Where we invest our vision and resources, there our heart will follow. Starting with those living on either side of us and working outward, our community will blossom better than ever. Before we know it, we won’t HAVE to be asked why we love Racine; we’ll be bragging before we even hear the question.

Paige Weslaski, born and raised in Racine, is a Pepperdine University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in leadership. Paige, 25, has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Central America, and is now working as an account executive of a marketing company in Downtown Racine. She may be reached via email at


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