If you want a stronger community, there is only one trick. Get people to talk to each other.
The simple ideas we’ve talked about lately that most resonated with you (based on what you told me when you hit reply) are Coffee and Calendars and the Newcomers Dinner. Both are ideas based on getting people to talk to each other.
The study in the UK found that when people spoke to their neighbors they felt more connected to the community.
There are more studies.
WHY does this work? Because when people talk to each other, they will start working to solve the problems together.
Isolated people don’t solve community problems. People talking to one another solve community problems.
If you’re discontented about something, but you’re keeping it to yourself, nothing is going to happen.
If you have a brilliant idea of what the community could become, but you’re keeping it to yourself, nothing is going to happen.
Sometimes you have to talk to a lot of people before you find the one who helps you kick it all off. A reader told me she had tried talking to all kinds of officials to no avail. Then one day, a candidate for city council came to her door. They had a long conversation. When he left, she felt certain things were about to change for the better. She’s since told me they have and are.
Sometimes you need an outside expert to come in, not because the expert has the answers but because the expert’s appearance causes people to talk to each other.
I have great confidence in you. Whatever problem your town is facing, however big the challenge is, you can make it better. You’ll figure out how to address the problem, how to overcome the challenge. You have more information than ever before available to you. You have access to more rural experts and advocates than ever before. You can steal ideas from the rapidly expanding practice of urban design.
You can shape the future of your town. You do it by talking to each other.
PS – The Tour of Empty Buildings organizer Deb Brown and I are partnering to create a kit to show you exactly what they did to create a successful tour and to market the tour and results on a national level. The Tour Kit will be available in early August.