There are a multitude of reasons WHY a community should have teenagers participating on the boards and councils. ~ But I will limit my self to just a few!
1) According to a University of Nebraska national survey of rural youths, 50% (that’s right folks! FIFTY PERCENT) WANT to return to their communities in the future.
That’s a fabulous number! Now what are YOU going to do with that information?
What is your community to have to offer these returning ‘youngsters’ down the road?
Jobs? Things to do? Places to hang out? Wi-Fi hot spots? Entertainment for new families? Buildings to start businesses in?
I would bet if you asked these youngsters what they would want to have, you would be surprised by their answers. If you let them, they will help you carve a new future for your community.
I met two extraordinary young men at the RuralX conference in Aberdeen a couple weeks ago. They were the youngest attendees at 16 & 17 years old. Both want to “come home” to Miller SD when they are done with school. Both want to open businesses. Both want to be able to express their ideas now to council and desire to be a part later. They want to listen us and for us to listen to them. Luckily, they live in a rural community that embraces young and old alike!
2) A vested interest in the community makes a difference. Most of the time it seems that my father’s generation is the last to truly be a vested part of a community at a young age. Really think about that. For hundreds of years, people were expected to shoulder adult responsibilities and participate in community events at a young age.
When and Why did we stop expecting our children to be a part??
When these youth feel valued and a part of the community, they are more likely to participate and volunteer. They will readily step up and lead the charge for whatever task is at hand.
(I could name a number of communities where the youth are put on ignore. It doesn’t bode well for those particular towns future.)
You could coordinate with the school so these youth get credit for attending meetings and so on.
I believe this is doubly important in rural communities. Without a large population to draw from, we need to build from within. Let them participate, share ideas and be a part.
3) Trust ~ Pretty simple, huh?
Let me give you an example; You trust the local teenagers to be LIFEGUARDS at the pool, responsible for your children. You have faith in their judgement that they will save a drowning child.
So why would you not trust their opinions or ideas?
Sure! Some of their ideas may be far fetched to us. But I am sure some of ours were just as far fetched to our ‘elders’. But without the dreams and forward thinking and enthusiasim, rural communities will wither away.
So put a little trust in these kids and give them a seat at the big table.
Together we can make our communities better for all.
Okay- so maybe not quite “cities”…. Cope, Anton and Idalia are technically listed as “villages”
I happened to land in Cope in a quirky twist of fate… You see, many years ago, we bought a café sight unseen on a handshake at a football game in Denver. That’s another story.
Cope had a population of 97. We helped grow it to 101.
Now, if you’ve ever lived in a very small rural community, you KNOW that revenue is hard to generate and so is entertainment.
We had the bright idea of starting “Café Racing”one summer. We had a little go- cart, and so did another family in Anton (pop 20) and another in Idalia (pop 115 +/- at the time)
So, we decided that to drum up business for each café in our towns,we would race around the café in Cope one weekend, and the other towns the following weeks… and then repeat. ~you could call it ‘Redneck Revenue’~
It only lasted a few months, but it was fun and did what it was supposed to do.
~Yes~ our little homemade go carts were wildly unsafe… kids strapped in with old back braces screwed to plywood and borrowed bike helmets…. But we all made it safely and the kids still talk about that summer.
Café Racing was a lesson in cooperation and collaboration with other towns. It was the start of “could be’s” Which led to other adventures….and bright ideas
Now I am using over 25 years of gained knowledge to help others get things started in their communities and learn to connect with neighboring towns.
A story of US. Of America. Of Small Business. Of Dreams. Of Passion. Of love of craft.
People who love their craft, live it every day.
I just saw this video today, and I was simply moved. Not by the memories of my Grammy who was a noted seamstress in San Francisco, nor because I am also a creative type.
But because this grand lady, Chris Ellsberg, lives and loves her craft of pattern making. By ‘craft’ I do NOT mean ‘crafting’… It’s more like craftsmanship, or trade.
You see, Chris is a pattern maker. One of the last the United States. It is an old trade. One that is difficult to master.
In her 80’s now, Chris strutted into Raleigh Denim Workshop and volun-told the owners, Victor & Sara, that she was going to work there. (Love her Moxie!!) For FREE, until they could afford to pay her.
She has been passing on her knowledge and love of craft to a new generation. It is thrilling to watch their story unfold.
I would love to meet them all! It sounds like they are a ‘family’ working at Raleigh Denim Workshop.
Helping each other to hold fast the dreams.
I am inspired. This story has so many lessons we can all learn from. Lessons about community, giving, teaching and inspiring. Of holding on and letting go.
It is much, much more than just a story of an old woman and a young couple.
Once upon a time in a far off land… Ok, more like a in a little town nobody has ever heard of..
We won the BEST BUSINESS award for Washington County. I almost wasn’t ALLOWED to accept it.
This little café was smack in the center of town. A tiny town. 96 people. A town where time stood still. Literally. The home of the ‘old boys club’. A staunch old school German community. 130 miles from Denver and another 60 or so to St. Francis, KS. ~If you wanted food, you were getting it here. ~
We worked our rumps off to make this place a success. We had regular customers that would drive 50 miles just for our fried chicken! We tons of truck traffic and catered far and wide. Tony had been a well known chef in Denver before we made the move. I worked extra hours so we’d have the money to employ the teenagers an moms that came looking for work. We had a wonderful friend, also an award-winning chef from California come join us, as well as the Mom-in-law.
In our neck of the woods, there were many organizations one could join. However… MEN were the end all-be all of the area. If a woman showed up for say, an economic development meeting, it was “Understood” that it was by Proxy as a stand in for her husband. And that everything would be rehashed with HIM the following morning over coffee.
We were awarded Best Business of the Year by Washington County. This was for our efforts to attract business and for being the main employer after the rural school. (The elevator had shut down)
So, we dress up. And we go. Dinner was good. The company was interesting. I think many of them were a little uncomfortable. It was mostly men, all patting themselves on the back.
They announce the award. I stand up. Shannon is clapping wildly. And…… SILENCE. Utter and complete silence. The very nice fellow looks around asks when is your Husband going to get here? I said that he was unable to attend. And he said that if They Had Known , they would have waited until another date.
I popped a cork. And let the Old Boys Club know in no uncertain terms what I thought about that.
I got the award.
Just goes to show… sometimes you have to blaze new trails!