Blog Archives

Trunk or Treat and the demise of neighborhoods

Trunk or Treat is really catching on.  This is where folks line their cars up, decorate the trunks and the little people walk around on Halloween getting their candy in one place. One street. One part of one street.17544

Now I’m not against the concept. I see it’s merits is places like San Francisco, New York City and the like, where many folks may live in high rises or such. I can also see how it makes parents feel safer if they live in a ‘bad part of town’. Or the ease of just stopping in the parking lot at your kids school. And very micro towns- this nay be a good way for everyone to get together in the evening.

But mostly I see it as the nail on the coffin, so to speak, for neighborhoods.

I just caught a local interview on the news and the young mother said she is glad it is in the school parking lot because she “recognizes other parents and children”. To me that implies that while she recognizes them, she doesn’t know  them.  It also implies that there is no value to her in knowing the neighbors on any level.

james halloween 001I am old enough to remember when everyone went door to door. Parents visited with each other on sidewalks as we ran up to “trick or treat”- Parents also made it a point to introduce themselves any new or unknown neighbors, as well as inviting them to upcoming neighborhood events and shindigs.

My own kids went house to house.  We went back and forth between country and city living- so some years we drove the kids into ‘town’ (we were 3 miles from the nearest neighbor and 16 to town) so they could go with their school chums… all of a hundred folks lived ‘in town’.

Last year I was giving a talk on community involvement in a local small town, right before Halloween. The City Auditor stated she was taking her children the next town over for trunk or treat. Why? Because there were new neighbors on the corner she didn’t know and was afraid to let her kids go up by themselves. So- my first question back was WHY haven’t you already introduced yourself? followed by Why not go up with them???  She chose to take her children 12 miles away to the town with under a hundred people from her own with nearly 500- It kinda baffles me.

Way to go- making your new community member feel unwelcome right out of the gate.  

In a rural or small town setting Trunk or Treat also takes away from the joy of the home bound who have prepared for days for little ghosts and goblins and princesses and unicorns to come to their door. Many of the older folks know every family around, whose kids have allergies, whose like nut rolls and whose love candy corn and make individual bags for them. I know Mildred (in her 90s)  would have been desolate if the kids hadn’t made an appearance- She’d been known for decades in the neighborhood.

Imagine how you would feel if you went all out, quite possibly hoarding bits of your fixed income so you could have treats for the kiddies, to have no one show up. That would probably be disheartening. And what of the new family? Don’t you think that attitude by your new town would keep  person or family  from participating in  other ‘community’ things during the year?

Trick or Treating is almost a rite of passage. It is tradition. It is neighbors being neighborly. – (And trying to out do each other!)

It is community.

It’s OK to do both- To Trunk or Treat at a location, but try  to be neighborly too. You don’t have to cover blocks… but it would be nice to knock on your neighbors door and say “Trick or Treat” or “Welcome to the neighborhood”

-Katy-

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The heartbeat of a community

 

historic-downtonw-lincoln-magnifying-glass_0I just came back from a whirlwind trip through parts of California. Most of my jaunts out there are like that.(I grew up there)  Have to squeeze them in between calves and crops, you know!

While I was there I treated myself to a morning stop in Lincoln. This gem is +/- about 30 miles North East of Sacramento on Hwy 65.

“Downtown is the heartbeat of a community”

At the turn of the 1900’s Lincoln was a “boom town”.  I would imagine it began it’s decline in the 1970’s or so.  Back in the 80’s I bought my horse hay at

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I used to buy hay in this beautifully revamped building!

the feed store on the corner and the standing joke was that Lincoln had to “borrow” its Saturday night police from Marysville.

Over the years Lincoln has grown. And grown. And Grown.  OUTSIDE of the city border. Downtown became sadly neglected. Building were run down. Store fronts empty.

About a dozen years ago the good people of Lincoln- many of them “old timers” came together to revitalize the old section.  Building were revamped, they enticed people to come and see the possibilities and did some creative wheeling and dealing to get the storefronts filled.  Here’s a great video on it:

Several years ago a friend of mine asked if I had been to Lincoln lately, and I said Not in years, nuthin’ there!  So she cheerfully informed that there was indeed plenty there.

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Everything from food and antiques to a fab quilt shop. -All things to pique my interest.

I found much to like and did some shopping 🙂 much to hubby chagrin.

Fast forward another few years. This trip I had time to spend the entire morning and early afternoon.  So, my morning was spentimg_7938 having coffee with my son at a sidewalk café and walking all over Old Town. We had a wonderful time exploring and visiting with shop owners! Everybody was so friendly and helpful. Our only bummer was that we were there before the museum opened, and by the time it was, we were already around the corner at Kim’s Café having late ‘brunch’ (an outstanding café with heaping plates of down home cookin’.)with other family in the area.

Lincoln boasts a number of eateries, antique stores, boutiques, thrift shops, wineries, brewpubs, gardening/gift shops and more.  It is quite the bustling area, offering something for everybody.  Even my son was practically giddy when he found a shop that interested him.

Nearly every single store has outdoor seating and all have wonderful signage designed to attract attention. Several of the buildings have beautiful murals on them. Even the lone ‘box’ store is in keeping with the Old Town vibe.

~ The seating is amazing. Just by sitting down outside the coffee shop, people TALKED as they went by! And when People talk, Community happens.~

img_7935“Honoring the past while embracing the future”

Lincoln also hosts many events to draw people and have a good times- Everything from antique car shows to food truck extravaganzas and in between.

When you’re not busy eating, visiting or shopping in one of the great shops, take a little time and drive around the ‘heart’ of Lincoln and its neighborhoods.  The architecture in amazing.

A stop in at the Lincoln Area Chamber was on my way around town and I had a wonderful visit with Tom Cosgrove, Chamber director. We had a few minutes to chat about the creativity involved with attracting businesses back to Downtown, and how rosy the future looks.

Rebuilding Lincoln wasn’t (and still isn’t) all sunshine and rainbows. It took loads of grit, outside the box creative thinking, vision , dreams, browbeating and hope.

Success feeds on success. Each small step lead to the next one and each one was progressively better and bigger. The energy in this beautiful town is incredible.

I will definitely be back again. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

Art, Architecture, Geography, Commerce, People, History, Customs and Cuisine– Yep! Covered ALL of “Kate’s 8” items that all communities begin with.

~Katy~

Katy is part of Tait&Kate– rural and small community speaker and advocate. TaitandKate can help your community fill your empty store fronts with outside the box strategies and build community from the inside out.  

Want to book us for your next meeting or conference? email us at  info@taitandkate.com

 

What do a seamtress and a coffee roaster have in common?

Community.

That’s what a seamstress/creative and a world class coffee roaster have in common.

“When people talk, community happens”Becky McCray

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Me and Jo

(And let me tell you…. Jo and I can TALK!!)

We are a community. A community of entrepreneurs. A community of women. A community of small town advocates. A community of creatives . A community of givers and do-ers~It only takes two to be part of a ‘community’

~The funny thing about our “community” is that we don’t even live in the same town. Not even the same part of the state!~

I met Jo Kahlifa , at a local Pride of Dakota event a number of years ago. We instantly became friends and have since done a number of exciting things jointly both personally and with our businesses. ( check out MoJo Roast and read about her and the coffees)

IMG_4902The fact that we are a “community”  was driven home this past week when we attended an OTA conference. (NorthDakOTA,MinnesOTA,SouthDakOTA)  Part of the purpose was to bring together creatives from towns across a tri-state area to help transform where we live into great , re-envisioned communities. Places where people once again gather and talk to each other instead of about each other. Communities where roots are put down and dreams are realized.

Community matters. In so many ways. And Community is not always where you live. Often it is what you do.

~Katy~

 

 

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Praire Palaces = Opportunity

(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!  

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possibilities 1/2 mile from town!

 

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.

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The color draws me in!

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.bin

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.

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What could YOU dream up?

 

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:

http://www.uvm.edu/tourismresearch/agritourism/saregrant/getting_started_agritourism_cornellext.pdf

http://www.ndtourism.com/articles/north-dakota-agritourism#whatisagritourism

http://oklahomaagritourism.com/

 

~Katy~

 

 

 

 

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