Just a few months ago, some anonymous good neighbors noticed a dangerously dilapidated footbridge on a city park walking trail, so they replaced it with a new safe footbridge. The city didn’t take it well.
The city posted on Facebook asking people to turn in the bridge builders, as though they had committed a crime. Of course, the city got roasted in the comments. Ultimately, the city edited their post to show appreciation for the good intentions and to call for a formal committee to handle dialogue with trail supporters.
This isn’t a huge city; the population is around 17,000. At that size, sure they need more planning and coordination than a town of 1,700. But maybe that could happen in an Idea Friendly way. Maybe using this suggestion from the same person who sent me that Facebook post.
Why not create a honey-do list for your town? You know, a list of little jobs or tasks that anyone could take on for the benefit of all.
Then if you found yourself with a little extra time after pressure washing your deck, you could check the list and maybe pressure wash a few picnic tables in the park. Or if you had some paint left over, you’d know you were welcome to paint the railings along the trail. Or if you had the skills and resources, you could replace a footbridge.
You don’t have to be an official to start a list. But you should definitely invite your officials to get involved. They can tell you what’s already planned, and how to adjust the list to work together. Anyone could post suggestions and invite others to add to the list. That’s a lot more natural dialogue than any formal committee could generate.
Our public places like parks and trails belong to all of us. When we help maintain them, we’re acting as good stewards. And when officials help us, they’re being good stewards, too. It’s all part of pulling together as a community.
Get a weekly dose of positivity for small communities from Becky McCray and Deb Brown, co-founders of SaveYour.Town. We share practical steps you can put into action right away.
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