Towns that actually work together (shocking, I know!)

Last time, I asked you for your stories about how your town works together. Thank you so much for your answers! I’m sharing these three because they represent towns with populations under 1000, over 10,000 and somewhere in between.

Before the answers I wanted to give you one link, one story worth reading today. Daily Yonder posted a great positive interview with Robin Rather called Helping Rural Regain Its ‘Swagger.’ Read the whole thing, but be sure you look for survey results that tell how many people would choose a rural or small town home, given their druthers (as we say). Hint: you’re going to like those numbers.

OK, on with the stories you shared of towns that really do pull together.
Hi Becky!

I’d be happy to share our story.

We had a Big Bennington Brainstorm a few weeks back.

We had a small, but intimate turnout.  There were just nine of us total, but word quickly spread afterwards and we already have a small committee to help with a Christmas Parade that was suggested at the meeting.  It was agreed that a library and community center is a top priority, but we really would like to see more community activities, hence the Christmas Parade and next year a Veterans Day and or Memorial Day one.  A possible BBQ cook off / 4th of July parade leading up to the fireworks as well.  Just make a day out of that.

I foresee a walking trail as well as possibly a mini golf course sometime in the future.  Who knows.  As people start to see things come alive again, anything can happen!

Someone asked when our next meeting was and I was pleasantly surprised.  He thought we did this monthly!

The Bennington Independent News is also a HUGE plus in town.  Folks enjoy getting a monthly newsletter that includes articles written by local citizens and students and community updates and articles that are important to them.

The Benn News Facebook page too is an added benefit for those who live outside of town as they can keep up with what’s going on at home.

So, all in all it was great and enjoyed meeting with some of the people who truly have spearheaded a lot of what makes Bennington what it is today.

Bennington, KS (pop 653)


This page has several links to Cuba, MO’s story:
The Ozark Mountaineer article is pretty comprehensive although it is a few years old.

Cuba is a good example of what can be done because we are a town of only 3400.

J a n e  S.  R e e d
Cuba, Mo “Route 66 Mural City”

Becky:  I would love, love, love to tell you about my small town.  Many of the opportunities we are enjoying have evolved from ideas straight from Small Biz Survival.

Realizing that small business development was our “ace in the hole” a way to support our creative society, we held our first “FREE” Entrepreneur Academy in 2012.  This partnership brought Alcorn State University, Natchez, Inc., and Mississippi Development Authority to the table in an effort to encourage potential entrepreneurs, grow the local economy, and launch a spirit of togetherness and optimism.  Four Academies later we have trained over 100 entrepreneurs and nurtured over 35 small business startups and/or expansions.

In the fall of 2013 we celebrated a very success “Empty Building Tour” in downtown Natchez.  This project, the Possibilities Tour, Turning Deserted Spaces into Dynamic Places, resulted in the occupation of six downtown empty buildings. Needless to say the heat is on to repeat the event this year . . . and we will.

The enthusiasm that accompanies these initiatives is contagious, and surrounding counties are following our lead.  We won’t stop – it’s too much fun!

Thanks for all your ideas and support.

Ruth R. Nichols, Ed.D.
Alcorn State University
Natchez, Mississippi (pop. 15,513)

These all sound great! But I’m sure some of you are thinking everyone always pulls together in those towns. Of course that isn’t true. They face some opposition and some grumbling, too. What do you suppose the people in these towns do about that complaining? Do you suppose the stop because of it, or do they find a way to keep making progress?

None of us will ever have a clear runway, or a smooth path with no obstacles. We always face challenges. That’s part of humanity. It’s what we do everyday that makes the difference.

If you would like to share your story of your town working together, I’d still love to hear it and share it. Just hit reply and tell me. You don’t have to be perfect, just making progress.

Keep making your town better,

PS – My friend Deb Brown is seeing a pattern in how things get done now in small towns. Hint: it’s not through committees. Read her story: Small Towns: Change is coming.