In every town, including yours, there are a few buildings that really could use some sprucing up. In one small town I visited last year, there were two in particular we talked about.
One was in process of being remodeled, and then got stuck. I think it’s been stuck for several years now, partially fixed up, partially still plastic film and temporary plywood that’s weathering and aging.
The other building houses a service business. The building looks like it’s in good shape, but there are shelves full of parts and supplies stacked up against the big display windows. It looks unappealing.
How could my host, who cares about his town and is active in the arts, encourage some improvement by these two building owners without making enemies?
I suggested a magic question sort of inspired by Ben Franklin.
“Could I ask a favor?”
Now, it’s essential that the favor be small, easily do able and meaningful. Ben Franklin asked to borrow a book. That request built a bridge across a formerly acrimonious relationship. The building beautification version is to ask the owner do you a small favor that’s easy and meaningful.
“I have these photos/prints/arts things, and I need a place to show them. Could I use your windows?”
You might have to commission the art, or have it designed and made to fit the windows in question. If you have to, make it a temporary request, or a series of rotating exhibits. Whatever will make it easier for them to say yes.
Put the building owner in the position of being a hero, doing you a favor. Make it exceptionally easy to say yes, and truly meaningful to the community.
They might still say no. But you will have put a down payment on a better relationship.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – We’ve been in the news lately, including these stories you might have missed:
- Can Sharing Space Save Your Town? in Gifts & Decorative Accessories blog
- Challenges Facing Rural and Small Town Businesses and Residents | 2020 at SmallBusiness.com
- What do rural people say are their biggest challenges? at my hometown paper the Alva Review-Courier!
- LISC Rural eNews also mentioned our Survey of Rural Challenges