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Thread: Little town living, big internet

  1. #1

    Little town living, big internet

    I dont have but just afew minutes to write. I am a new community organizer in my town. I have been working with the tourism board for a few years, and did some work on the fair boar, and started out with the cham. of commerce, which we no longer have.

    The town i live in has a pop. of 1000 and one red light! The county has about 16,000 people and the center is 40 miles away from any collage or walmart or even a liquor store. We are a draw heavy christian run community. Not that they all act christian, but they claim it.

    Our community is falling into drugs and poverty more and more each year. The community never was a rich comminuty, but jobs are scarce and most are on some kind of government assistance. The best paying job are at least 40 miles away and demand 12 hour days. With the commute, the people with any money dont have time to spend it. They sure dont spend it here at home, but go to surrounding counties with wal-marts and finer dinning to spend.

    We need help!!!

    I personally live a lifesyle of enouraging positive thinking and am now about to start a club/ group/ something..... to stir up postivie thinking and brain storming to help my hometown!

    I hope to find ideas and encourgment here.

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Welcome to Cyburbia! We are glad to have you. Small communities and big metropolises face many of the same problems. Please feel free to search the site for answers, or start a thread to further discuss what ails your community.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries
    Weplcome to Cyburbia!

    Moderator note:
    I'm going to move this to the Economic Development forum.

    It sounds like a town in a very difficult position. When there's no jobs, people with the education and skills to find work elsewhere will leave. What remains behind is a disproportionately large underclass; those without the resources to leave, or the education and talent needed to start a new life elsewhere. When people are poor and bored, and it seems like there's no hope, they often resort to drugs. It's often the only escape and joy some people will find in their lives, but unfortunately, there can be a high social and economic cost if it's associated with violent crime (meth, prescription opiates, etc).

    It's not just a small town issue. Many larger cities that may have plenty of job opportunities are facing an exodus of their young. It's not just jobs, but also lifestyle. Why stay in Cleveland or Buffalo when it's much easier to meet people like themselves in Portland or Austin? Young people no longer aspire to merely find a mate, settle down, and raise a family, but to have a life.

    Take a look at the thread about Cairo, Illinois. It was once a prosperous city, but it got hit with a one-two punch; a decline in river traffic threatened its reason for being, and hate did the rest in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's now one of the poorest cities in Illinois; a place where the high school principal gave a commencement speech advising graduates to leave town. Those left behind in Cairo are the poorest, the least skilled, the most stubborn, those milking the last drops of what little economic activity remains, and a few good souls that truly want to make a difference and help. I wish them luck.

    Small towns often aren't the family-friendly, caring places they seem to be. If you're different, they can be inhospitable, alien environments that one feels no attachment to. Some communities intentionally drive their biggest asset away; their young. Those who might not be "country", those who are a bit geeky, those who might be gay or lesbian, those who aren't Christian. There's also those who aren't "undesirables", but don't want to live in a community where they're shunned, either. Over the years, their number is growing.

    In online dating, I'll see profile after profile that includes the same cliches: "I love to laugh and have fun. Family and friends are important to me. I love to go out, but I also love to stay in. I love all kinds of music. I'm as comfortable in jeans as in a little black dress." Great. So does every other woman. Am I going to write and say "I so get you. I also love to laugh!" They either have no traits that make them stand out from the crowd, or they don't know how to sell what they do have. There's no hook to draw me in.

    Same thing with places. One question I ask those who post "save my town!" is "What makes your town unique?" What makes it different and more desirable than a hundred similarly sized towns in the state? They're all family friendly, they were all founded by unsmiling bearded men named Jebediah or Ezekiel, they all have history, they're all inhabited with hard working, friendly people, they all have churches, they all have little museums, and they all have quirky little harvest festivals. What would make me want to live in Town X instead of Town Y? What would make me want to place an industry there? What's the hook?

    Right now, it seems like one solution is education. Give your children the best education that's possible, so they have to succeed elsewhere, and the number of those left behind who resorting to drugs and violence is as small as possible. In a way, this means destroying the village to save it. I don't think that's what you want. So, tell us why your town is a place that should be saved.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    Building on Dan's point, the key to economic development is finding competitive advantage - and overcoming disadvantage. Most people do not realize this. They think all they need to do is talk about the things they like, but really, those same things are, for all practical purposes, universal. Small town atmosphere. Great place to raise a family. So what?

    Remote small communities have considerable disadvantages. Schools may not be as good as elsewhere. Housing may be cheap but in poor condition and impossible to sell. There are no stores or restaurants. There can be a lack of other young people for young people to associate with - who are not high school dropouts. There are no jobs for people with an education or ambition. All these, and more, are not necessarily fatal.

    A small town can still be vital if it has some competitive advantages to set it apart. It may be a mountain town set in a stunning location. It may be located atop a valued resource, such as mineral deposits or oil - look at North Dakota for instance. But if it is a dusty town on the plains, it may be better to consider how to manage decline than to hope to grow.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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