Building Community: Sweat the Small Stuff

Where Do You Want to Go Today?

We like to talk about the Big Stuff in rural development, like consolidation in agriculture¬†or¬†what to do about¬†Walmart, but there’s usually not much we can do about it at the local level.

However, communities that pay attention to details‚ÄĒpeople¬†who¬†sweat the small stuff‚ÄĒcan get things done and get where they want to go.¬†¬†UMN Extension Educator Ryan Pesch picks up on a thread from Ben Winchester’s discussion I¬†mentioned this week¬†about community vitality¬†on MPR, which makes sense since they work together. He¬†offers three key¬†themes for community leaders to build on:

  • Involvement.¬† Reach outside your comfort zone, and reach out to newcomers.
  • Leadership.¬† It’s not about elected positions; it’s about stepping up to the plate and¬†getting things done.¬† And if you’re a leader now, remember theme #1 and bring your replacement on board.
  • Problem Solving.¬† There’s no shortage of ideas, but never enough people.¬† Sometimes you just have to get it done.


Nothing new here.¬† In fact, Ryan name-drops the Heartland Center for Leadership Development in Nebraska, who have been active in this field for a long time [full-disclosure: I worked on a project in grad school with Vicki & Milan at Heartland, they’re¬†great¬†folks and know their stuff.]¬† They recently updated their¬†Clues to Rural Community Survival, which is worth checking out if you haven’t read it¬†before,¬†or simply revisiting if you have.

I stumbled on¬†this post on the¬†new website for the¬†West Central Initiative Foundation¬†out of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.¬† Extension is using some nifty¬†Adobe tools to capture voice/powerpoint presentations. ¬†If you’ve got ~25 minutes, you can see Ryan’s presentation on the WCIF blog.


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