Our natural rural collaboration vs. our giant silos

Our natural rural collaboration vs. our giant silos

A couple of times last year I had the chance to hear Dell Gines talk about collaboration. Both times, he used the phrase “build robust networks for targeted purposes.” That resonated for me as Deb Brown and I often tell you stories about Building Connections and turning your crowd into a powerful network as part…

Get more volunteer help with small steps

Get more volunteer help with small steps

What’s the best way to get volunteers to take lots of required training or complete an intensive commitment? Help them take small steps. Take a large volunteering goal: Break it into easier subgoals: And make it flexible for them: It’s the same goal! But wording it differently made a big difference in how volunteers reacted…

Who’s in your message group? An Idea Friendly way to stay motivated

Who’s in your message group? An Idea Friendly way to stay motivated

Two people at the Oklahoma Arts Council conference mentioned their support message groups. This is such a simple idea I wanted to share it with you.  Alena Jennings said people call her The Doodle Lady because she runs The Doodle Academy, an art experience education business in downtown Ponca City. Alena has connected with several…

10 small steps toward a better community that don’t require permission

10 small steps toward a better community that don’t require permission

You’d like to do more for your small town or rural community, but you’re held back by at least a couple of things: You don’t actually need either of those. Small steps can be meaningful and usually don’t require permission. That’s why Deb and I say: 99% of the best things you can do for…

3 key quotes from a big city mayor that small towns can absolutely steal

3 key quotes from a big city mayor that small towns can absolutely steal

It’s the holiday season, so I wanted to share something short and still useful. I found these quotes from former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, from when he spoke to the very rural Red Carpet County Tourism Association in Alva, Oklahoma. I picked these because you can adapt them for your community, no matter what…

Three rural child care success stories

Three rural child care success stories

Lack of childcare is one of the top challenges in rural communities, on our Survey of Rural Challenges. Lately, I’ve heard several innovative successes you might be able to adapt for your community.  1. Senior Care + Childcare = Intergenerational Care In Laverne, Oklahoma, (population 1,200) Lana Shaffer shared how locals came together several years…

Entrepreneur week advice for small towns: 3 practical steps for economic developers and chambers of commerce

Entrepreneur week advice for small towns: 3 practical steps for economic developers and chambers of commerce

Last year during entrepreneurship week, I saw lots of articles about what big cities can do to support entrepreneurship. Advice for small towns got left out. Again. So I wrote this entrepreneur week advice for small town economic developers and chambers of commerce, whether you serve 5,000 or 500 in your local population. 1. Create…

Overwhelmed with housing challenges? Gather your crowd

Overwhelmed with housing challenges? Gather your crowd

Caldwell, Kansas, has a population of about 1000 people. The city has taken an active role in improving the condition and availability of housing in their town. That’s a LOT for a town of 1,000 people!  But the city is not the only group interested in housing. When I visited the town, we made a…

How Fairview stopped talking about housing and started building houses

How Fairview stopped talking about housing and started building houses

At the Teeny Tiny Town Summit last week, JaNae Barnard from Fairview, Oklahoma, shared how they jump started their new housing project. “We stopped settling for talking,” she said. She loaded up the key folks from Major County Economic Development, and they drove past every single house in Fairview. That gave everyone a much clearer…

How housing went from a rural advantage to a top challenge

How housing went from a rural advantage to a top challenge

You’ve probably noticed, but housing is a top challenge in most rural communities and small towns. That makes it hard to remember that back around 2013, cheap housing was a key draw of new residents to rural places, according to Ben Winchester from University of Minnesota and others. But by 2019, lack of housing was…

What to do with kids’ ideas – even the ones that will “never work”

What to do with kids’ ideas – even the ones that will “never work”

The other day, I told you about how the kids’ Photovoice project stopped me in my tracks and why we made a video for those kids.  Today, I want to share one of the photo ideas the kids made and what Deb Brown and I said to those kids. It’s also part of the video…

From photos to action: The power of following up with kids’ voices

From photos to action: The power of following up with kids’ voices

At the Rural Renewal Symposium last year, I was stopped in my tracks by a research poster presentation by Rural Scholar Stephanie Harvey on a youth photovoice project.  Why did it strike me? It featured photos taken by kids ages 7 to 17 about what they wanted in their towns. I think you’d recognize their…