One of the speakers at the recent Midwest Rural Assembly started off by telling this story about a small town hardware store. (I think he said the story came from Kinky Friedman, when he was Texas Agriculture Secretary.)
The hardware store is where when you have a project, they will loan you a tool. They will sell you 3 or 4 screws, not make you buy a box of 500. The motto of the hardware store is where, working together, you can build it yourself.
|The Midwest Rural Assembly,|
Working together, you can build it yourself. I keep thinking about that. Working together, you can build it yourself.
That sounds close to another recurring theme from the MRA discussions: the best solutions come from within.
As we discussed how to make progress on community development, I heard this over and over. The best solutions come from within, even when help comes in from outside.
“I think the best solutions come from within.” David Baker, Farm Transition Specialist at the Beginning Farmer Center, Iowa State University Extension.
Steph Larsen from the Center for Rural Affairs said you have to work with the issues that people are putting energy into.
Milan Wall, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, said when your are doing an interventional model, they have to own it. In other words, when you come in from outside to help with any problem, you have to leave ownership and responsibility with the people who are in the community.
Communities under stress can want you to just fix it, Jim Beddow of the Rural Learning Center said. But there is no, “follow this checklist and you’ll be fine.” it requires making each idea reflect the reality of each community.
The more you can ground this stuff in local assets, the more you’ll see it be sustainable, and the more you’ll get buy in, Wall said. There is tension between change being visionary enough to make it important, and incremental enough to make it last.
USDA Rural Development Iowa State Director Bill Menner said that because small town people have multiple roles, one person can be the center of several subjects. For example, the bank executive who is also on the chamber of commerce board and also involved with the arts.
Which brings me right back around to:
Working together, you can build it yourself.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.