Monthly Archives: February 2016
It is getting harder and harder for many small towns to hang on. State and federal funding is drying up, resources are disappearing and people have become complacent. By working together, small towns can revive themselves and head in a new direction. Though there are many, here are my reasons small towns should think regionally.
1-None of us are getting any younger. Things happen. Ask yourself What IF? What if you couldn’t just hop in the car and drive 50 miles to market? Wouldn’t it be nice to walk down the street and grab a birthday card or a gallon of milk, or meet your friends for coffee? Or to just go the 10 miles to the neighboring town that has what you need?
Ask yourself, If you couldn’t just drive into the city, is it a reasonable expectation to have your child or friend take an entire day off of work, come from the city to get you, take you back to the city to get that handful of items you had to have, and then drive you back home and head right back? That would be an entire day and over 200 miles of driving.
Just because you CAN drive in, doesn’t mean you need to or even want to. And we all know someone who really shouldn’t be behind the wheel to start with!
2-Shared resources. One town has the lake, one the hospital, one has a huge yearly event , one a cafe, one the lake, one a motel. How can you use your neighbors resources to enhance your own?
You could advertise your motel at the same time the next town is having AppleFritter Days.
The tiny town of Aladdin, WY (population 15!) has a 100 year old store. And that’s it. Aladdin is 20 miles from Belle Fourche SD. They have built their business around tourism to Belle Fourche and Sturgis and Devils Tower. Aladdin uses the simple principle of Buy, See & Do to capture their audience. Aladdin uses the nearby towns resource of people, hotels and more.
If a town of only 15 people can do it, so can you!
3-Events~ events draw people from all over. Take advantage of it. Even tiny events provide an abundance of trickle down economics. When they drive to your town, people will stop to fill their tanks before leaving, they will spend money in your café, gift shop, roadside stands, etc.
It doesn’t matter if you have a cartwheel contest, a parade, a farmers market or some huge event. Just do something. Once people know that your community has events, they will spread the word bringing more people the next time.
4-Small towns are inter-connected by family ties. Most everyone who lives in small towns is connected to other nearby communities by family. This means traveling back and forth. Shared knowledge and histories. Capitalize on it.
Make a traveling history exhibit featuring the townspeople, host a Cousins Day or something else crazy.
When Aunt Dorothy comes to your town for little Jr’s birthday party, dimes to dollars she will stop at the local store to grab a gift or a bottle of wine.. Just like when you go to that pot-luck the next town over, you’ll probably stop in their market and get some of that potato salad to take with you.
5-Small business succeeds. When a small town thinks outside of its borders, businesses grow and thrive. By sharing and collaborating with other nearby communities, you grow your customer base.
When you grow your base, more people hear about you. The more they hear about you, the more excited they get to find out what’s new in your community. With more people coming to town, the more the possibility of a business being able to expand or hire someone or for a new business to start. How exciting would that be?
What ideas do YOU have to think regionally?
Focaccia Bread (Italian pronunciation is Fo-Katt-Ah) is a simple to make, hearty staple. You can top it with nearly anything. Focaccia is considered a flat-bread even though it has yeast.
Originally cooked on an open flame hearth or on heated disks, Focaccia is native to the Northern Mediterranean area of Italy. My maternal side of the family is from Filiatterra, Italy. (N of Tuscany)
Mine is a super simple recipe I’ve used for years.
3 C flour / 1 envelope quick rise yeast (I just use a Tablespoon of loose) 3/4 Tsp salt / 3 +/- Tbs Olive Oil / 1 C water.
*** Seasonings and toppings of choice***
We generally mix some (like a couple tsp each of Garlic, Rosemary, Basil, Thyme… or a couple TBS of our favorite Italian seasoning…. or whatever else is on hand at the time) right into the flour before putting it all together. ~ Good with spinach or beet leaves too!~
Directions: In a large bowl, mix together 1 Cup of the flour, seasonings of choice, salt and yeast. Add in 1 C xtra warm (nearly HOT tap water) water and 2 TBS Olive Oil. Stir well. Add in remaining flour. Stir/mix . Turn out onto counter dusted with flour. Knead about 5 min or so until smooth and elastic-y. Cover and let ‘rest’ 10 minutes.
Roll out to about cookie sheet size and put in a greased (Note: Do NOT use Bakers Joy!! It will scorch the bottom!) Or you can roll it out round… whatever makes you happy.
Use your fingers to make dimples. Cover let rise about 20 minutes.
Top with whatever you want. Today we happened to have a leftover tomato, some onion and a little Mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses. So that’s what we topped with.
Bake at 400 degrees. Check at 15 Min. I will be golden brown… you may need a few more minutes depending on your oven.
Sigh….. where we live there’s no such thing as fancy Olive oils. We have to wait for a trip to Fargo or Denver to get them! So today we made do Bertrolli’s. Sometimes we flavor our own oils here on the farm.
June is the author of Purple Pizza and Other Flavors and founder of Urban Survival Kitchen.
(Property owners name withheld on request)
On occasion I drive by “Betty’s” place NE of Washburn.
Every time I think two things immediately.
1) WOW! I want to stay there!
2) WOW! The income potential.
It really is quite a marvelous place for her family to get away to. These converted grain bins are actually sleeping rooms (2 are storage) and the Quonset has a livingroom, bathroom and kitchen. ~The family meets up here for a week or so every year. There are no other buildings on their land.
I often think what a simple concept! Primitive camping with nature right at your fingertips- but ‘town’ right down the road. Or a great for seasonal Craft selling or farm market. The novelty of the painted buildings would make me stop in a second driving by!
We live in a very rural community. What a draw this could be for any small community! Think of the possibilities. Quick weekend get-aways, retreats, family reunions, bird watching, star gazing etc.
It’s quirky, fun, interesting and draws you in. It immerses you in the country in a way that being in a hotel can’t.
WHO would be your customers? and WHY are they your costumers?
Well, me for one. As someone who frequently traveled cross country with the boys, a place to run and shout in the country would have been my first stop! Photographers, wild life viewers, hunters, crafters, history buffs, picnickers, day campers – all manner of people.
Now I know, most of us have seen great converted grain bin ‘houses’ or farm dwellings used for major events. But this, on a most base level has oooodles of easily do-able possibilities without as much upfront capital. Just a little sweat and imagination.
Want windows? Scavenge some from old buildings. Want to add a porch? Again, use salvaged lumber or bricks.
You are only limited by your imagination.
As a Primitive experience, you wouldn’t need to provide all manner of luxuries. Primitive means just that. A bed. Maybe an outdoor BBQ or fire pit. If you wanted to- a solar shower and out-house or inciner-loo would do. You could easily offer a booklet detailing the best nearby places for scenery, bird watching, great food, places of interest and local history. It would be easy enough to partner with the local café or bakery to provide boxed lunches/dinners or baked goods.
Also as a primitive experience, you may not be as subject to the same stringent standards as a ‘hotel’ would be. (Definitely something to check on, though)
Remember- Your great grain bins or other buildings don’t have to be on a farm! You can be on the edge of town, or by the park, or maybe you have an extra large lot… Again- imagination.
Most states have an Agri-Tourism department. They may provide property signage, can help you decide what type of insurance is best. (Many farm policies already have a rider for ‘guests’) and other aspects of your new business.
Agri-Tourism is a very sustainable, viable income. The USDA also has grants and low cost loans available. Many communities have Micro-loan programs to help you on your way. You can also list for FREE you great Agri-tourism place on many sites such as : http://www.agritourismworld.com/ that let’s you list by state.
Here are some great links to get you started:
Now I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty spiritual person. I believe there in ghosts and all manner of things of that nature.
In the same couple day span, both my brother and I received signs. Very different signs, but related to the same incident.
I ran down to AZ because my mom was fading fast. She was already in the critical ward when I got there. I stayed with brother and slept in her room (she lived with him) –
So- I’m trying to get settled and I looked around the room and something on top of a cabinet caught my eye.
(~ let me just say here, that many of us of a certain age were brought up that under NO circumstances were kids allowed in the parents room…. so that was just creepy in itself!)
I looked a little closer and there’s a birthday card I had given to my dad when I was about 6. Crazy, huh? Like what would IT be doing there? My folks had been divorced when we were young and all that kind of stuff long since packed up and out of sight.
My thoughts? Dad was telling me to be nice. He knew that I can sometimes harbor a grudge. 😉 He was always telling me to make nice with my mother… She and I had didn’t see eye to eye at all. Ever. So- I was nice! Very nice.
But in spite of that I loved her. Just didn’t like her.
Later on my brother got his sign. After mom passed – about 5-7 full minutes after she was really and truly gone, my brother walked over to her side and said “They say the hearing is the last thing to go when you die and that you can still hear afterwards” and then paused and said “I love you. We’ll be ok”
And holy smokes! Her heart STARTED BEATING again. No kidding! For at 87 beats… CRAZY!
He always poo-poo’d things like this and now he’s a believer.
I’ve had many experiences since I was a youngster. Think what you may. But among those others are some pretty crazy hair raising incidents.