Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


October 2007
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Archive for October 6th, 2007

Rediscovering Community

Visited a good friend, Alan Anderson, last night and listened to his story about a person who moved from the city into a rural area. I was expecting a tale of how he tried to ‘ejakate’ the locals. Well this story was just the opposite. This guy got involved all right but he did it in what I consider to be the ‘smart way’. He took time to really learn the area and to become a part of the existing community. He didn’t immediately try to change things. But over time, he certainly added to what was there and helped the area evolve in ways that were acceptable, significant and sustainable. He was wise enough to understand that he needed to have an understanding of the existing ‘community’ if he was going to be able to contribute something meaningful.

As I listened to Al, two thoughts came to the fore. The first was the reminder of how powerful a well crafted story is to making a point. Al is an absolute master of this. I’m always amazed by those who have honed that skill.

Second, the words “Rediscovering Community” evolved in my head. I’ve been doing a presentation I call, “Skating to Where the Puck Will Be”. It’s intended for rural audiences. My objective is to encourage rural leaders to open up to different perspectives on what the future of their area can be and to let them know that they are actually in charge of their destiny and not just victims of it. While I am comfortable with the constantly evolving content of the presentation, I’ve struggled with the title. I’ve found that most people have heard Gretzky’s quote but I’m not sure everyone can closely relate to a hockey analogy. Put me on skates and I would have a tough time standing up and gliding to where the puck will be is a fantasy at best. (Besides, sports references are done to death.)

So based on what I learned last night I’ve renamed my presentation, “Rediscovering Community: A Vision for Rural America“.

Now that feels right. Thanks, Al.