The only way to go is forward. Build the town you want to live in.
As a kid, my friend Sheila hated going to the small town Winnsboro, Texas, with her mom in the summers. It was hot, miserable, and there were no other kids. (Or that’s the way she remembers it.) It was not the kind of town Sheila would want to visit, let alone live in.
She went back a year or so ago for her mom’s high school reunion. As they drove into downtown in the evening, Sheila was sure that they’d have no choice but to end up eating at the same old Dairy Queen, like they always did when she was a kid. But she was surprised to find there were three restaurants open downtown that evening. The stuffy old ladies dress shop where she remembered spending hours and hours waiting on her mother has been replaced with a pub. Another restaurant offered South African foods. This is not the Winnsboro of Sheila’s youth. In fact, Sheila found it the kind of town she’d love to visit. And that’s the first step in being the kind of place people would like to live.
How did that happen? Small towns don’t stand still. They change all the time. And one person in a small town can make a big change, including you. Oh, it won’t feel like you’re making a big change. It may feel like you’re just getting by, just barely making a difference. But it’s little changes that add up to something.
By the way, even as Sheila is thrilled at the positive changes, you can bet some locals are still complaining that things aren’t like they remember from when they were kids. Don’t mind them.
Get excited and do it. The infrastructure is there. You can start something small and start creating the kind of town you want to live in.
Keep shaping the future of your community,
PS – Big Ideas for Small Communities: culture, tourism & local foods. Join me in Washburn, North Dakota, September 22.