Growing up, my mother was told by my teachers that “I had so much potential!” The problem was I did not see my potential because I had such a limited view of myself and my teachers did nothing to pull what potential they saw out of me.
It's the same with our communities. We cannot see from the inside what others see from the outside. We must draw out potential.
I have a passion to build rural America because for more than 30 years, I have seen the innovation, passion, drive, business sense, and heart of people who love where they live and want others to love it. I have seen and know the potential of rural America - it's vastly more than agriculture!
The result about potential is that rural America’s counties are losing more population than gaining. The problem is not lack of buildings or industrial parks, bike paths, or lack of jobs.
The key to building rural America is relationships.
Communities must recognize and knock down the "walls" built through many years being jealous of other communities. For holding grudges from long-ago athletic competitions or school mergers where one community did not “get the building.” For family feuds created from generations of animosity toward each other. I know of one community who festered for 100 years before they realized how to grow.
You can draw out potential in your community by including new people who bring new ideas, new directions, and creative approaches to old problems.
People will stay when they:
- feel they belong.
- know that they belong to something bigger, with a vision for a better future.
- see themselves as equal participants in community growth.
- know why the community is a good fit for them.
- know that the community has a sense of purpose.
The role of community leaders is not to come up with the great idea, but to create an environment in which great ideas can happen, are encouraged, and are supported.
Ask these questions of your "newer" citizens to help your community see itself through the eyes of another, perhaps one whose grandparents aren't buried in the cemetery.
• How long have you lived in this community?
• Why do you think we continue to exist as a community?
• For whom do you think we are a good community?
• Tell me a time when you did not feel you belonged/were welcome in this community.
When you open your environment to Welcome, Understand, Comfort, and Appreciate new people, new ideas and creative approaches to old problems, your school will increase enrollment, your tax base will increase, and you will have more volunteers.
Want to draw out potential in your community? Check here for more ideas and call us to grow, 712-250-0275; firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.bewuca.com/blog/relationship-economic-development-wuca-ize-your-community