Melody Warnick and SaveYour.Town are Keeping and Attracting Talented People in Rural Places

Melody Warnick and SaveYour.Town are Keeping and Attracting Talented People in Rural Places

Melody Warnick’s books have been refreshing reads for me in thinking about how people and place interact to create the culture in rural communities. In This Is Where You Belong, Melody talks openly about her own struggle to feel connected when she moved to a new town. In If You Could Live Anywhere she shares…

How SaveYour.Town is helping small towns in 2024

How SaveYour.Town is helping small towns in 2024

See our mood board, above? It’s all about how SaveYour.Town is helping you along the way in 2024 and beyond. Deb Brown and I picked that phrase, helping you along the way, because we know that you’re full up on work to do. You’re probably involved in multiple organizations in your community. Certainly you are…

Celebrate each step of the project, even the boring ones

Celebrate each step of the project, even the boring ones

I have so many stories from the amazing communities in Washington and Idaho that I toured and supported last month. People are doing heroic work to make their communities better. A new recreation area and ballfield is in process in Deary, Idaho. The next step is to install a culvert across part of it. Inspired…

You can’t order people to collaborate

You can’t order people to collaborate

And you can’t plan your way there, either. I ran into another one of those outdated “how to fix your rural community” prescriptions. I think you know the type I mean, written to address the “official leaders.” It started with shared vision, then planning (lots of planning), recruiting additional participants, assigning parts of the plan…

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…

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…

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…