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Welcome to town….. Now GO HOME!

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME?

Ever felt this way when visiting or thinking about relocating to a new rural community???

no outs“You’re not the first, nor will you be the last…

Small towns are not all sunshine and rainbows ~  there is a darker side.

Don’t get me wrong…. We WANT to LOVE the town we chose to live in or near.  We WANT to be a PART of the community. We WANT to grow old here and feel welcome. But really – how do you think we feel when we hear:

“We don’t need your kind of help!”

What kind, exactly, would that be? Can you be more specific than just a general shunning?

It takes people who are thinking of the future of their community and the impacts on its current residents as a whole, to embrace and welcome with open arms the “new” people.

“We” don’t expect you to become our BFFs or to involve us in every aspect of your life. But a simple “hello” at the gas station or a “How ya doing?” or “Can you help?” once in a while goes a long way to help new people become part of the community. Blatant silence when you’re standing 3 feet from us is poor manners, no matter where you live.

And I have lived all over the United States — much of it in smaller communities or very rural areas.  Many have been very welcoming of “outsiders,” some not so much.

I was recently in a sparsely populated town that desperately needs any new people it can get.  I was chatting with the economic development person – ED for short — and she relayed this story:

ED: “Did you deliver that WELCOME basket to XYZ family yet?”

Welcoming committee: “WHY should we?? They’re not going to stay anyway.”

Holy smokes! What??? Really???? 

This community was in the national news for its “unwelcome-ness” (read about it here: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/mailbag/small-towns-are-not-welcoming/article ; more links to this story at the bottom of the page).

I know this community. It directly mirrors my experience in the central part of the state.

Love us or hates us… play nice. Our kids are in the schools and we shop and eat here! WeFF2085-D-2 pay taxes that help keep social services in place – important services like ambulance and fire. We volunteer – at least we try to, when allowed — for events and clubs. We belong to the churches.  And when something bad happens, we are here for you.

Even so, would you believe several upstanding long-time residents have asked me:

If “hubb’s” passed away, you’d sell everything and move, right?”

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME. Ugh!

Another well-intentioned but unproductive statement came from the ED of a town in the center of the state:

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this is the message ‘outsiders’ get loud and clear.

We will never allow another business that competes in any way with XYZ — they are our biggest tax base. ”

 

I have seen it time and again, and it’s not easy for us either. Many of us offer to “divorce” or force the “local” to move away again. We withhold our monies from the community, quit volunteering, close businesses, or choose to not start them at all. Our attitudes and frustrations transfer to our children, making them less engaged in the town and far less likely to ever return. That’s a loss not just for us personally, but also for the community at large.

Many people who relocate or return to small towns come because they have some sort of ties. Others come looking for a quieter lifestyle or a new start.

Whatever the reason — remember that YOUR” town was NOT settled only by people who exclusively knew each other. Its original settlers tried to make it welcoming and accepting, and to help it grow and prosper.

We need to keep that pioneer spirit alive – for our own good and for the good of our communities.

~Katy~

Additional links: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/columnists/julie-fedorchak/how-welcoming-are-we/article_4f27a470-20b9-11df-ae85-001cc4c03286.html

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/florida-family-gives-up-on-small-town-north-dakota/article_cc28bcda-1a87-11df-8d88-001cc4c03286.html

Katy is a writer and speaker with Tait & Kate ( http://www.taitandkate.com ) –   She believes in the good, and knows the bad and the ugly of small and rural community living and business and feels it’s important to share ALL the stories.  Tait & Kate will bring affordable solutions, fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a smidge of irreverent humor to your town or business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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