Posted by kayteekate
Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME?
Ever felt this way when visiting or thinking about relocating to a new rural community???
“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! We 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:
“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 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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Tags: bullying at any age, business, Country Living, emotional abuse, history, how welcoming are you?, Main Street, make a difference, narrow minded people, North Dakota, Prairie Living, prairie people, reasons why people leave small towns, rural business, rural community, rural living, rural roots, rural volunteers, Small business, small town advocate, small town living, small town mindset, small towns, Speaker on small towns, Tait&Kate, TaitandKate, welcome to town