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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:

IMG_7373

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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Let the kids have a seat at the big table! (Reasons to have teenagers on board)

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?

RuralXTrio

Dylan, myself & Camden at the RuralX Summit

 

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 community_gardengeneration 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.

Everybody wins.

3) Trust ~ Pretty simple, huh?

teenLet 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.

~Katy~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of 3 cities….My first adventure in small town advocacy

Okay- so maybe not quite “cities”…. Cope, Anton and Idalia  are technically listed as OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“villages”

I happened to land in Cope in a quirky twist of fate… You see, many years ago, we bought acope4 001 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 cope4 001so 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

cope3 002

Part of the “Toasties” café crew ~ Carmen, Dale, Jens & me

 

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.

~Katy~

 

5 reasons small towns should think regionally

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. 2205027805

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 20140628_123515principle 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?

~Katy~

 

 

A quick photo stop

On my way home today I took a quick detour. The frost was amazing in places.  20150211_120440

I spied the huge tree covered in it and swerved onto the dirt road, slammed on the brakes and promptly slid 20 feet  on the ice..  20150211_120640

20150211_120422Sub zero temps, and no gloves and just my little phone to do the trick. Oh, and some hopping through the pillow drifts in gale force winds.

BrrrrBrrrrrBrrrrr.20150211_120756  20150211_120434  20150211_120804

But worth it!  These were at the Saints Peter & Paul cemetery outside of Wilton, ND.

~Katy~  20150211_120450  20150211_121002

A little Italian humor…

~  Today on the radio I listened to an interview between well known Italian chef  Gino D’Acampo and a British talk show host… and of course the moment I got in the house I HAD to Google the live event….

In a nut shell~ The host insults the poor man by saying “If you just add ham….” who quickly replies with

if’a my Grand-a-mutha had wheels, she’d’a be a bike-a”  

Can you Hear the cadence and inflection in your head?? I can.

I laughed and laughed.

Because I am half Italian. and I understand. COMPLETELY.

 

~When we were younger, my brother told my mother that her cooking was “ALMOST as good s Chef-Boy-R-Dee”

My mother went on strike with some gestures and muttering with what we loosely translated to mean  “If we ever wanted another hot meal, we’d damn well better fix it ourselves because we sure the heck-0 weren’t getting it from her.”   (ever)10154406_10200976135483947_550699380467426684_n

I actually have some very funny stories about being Italian… But we’ll save those for a later date! WHY??? Because I will have to run fast when my Mother finds out I put her picture in here! ~

 

~Ehhh Tu~

Katy

 

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