Articles

Plant some trees

You’d think planting trees in your small town would be a huge deal and take a ton of time, wouldn’t you? Chad from Lake Francis Case Economic Development in Chamberlain, South Dakota didn’t know that. He found a grant for $2,500 to be used for planting trees. It required a 50/50 match. Chad simply asked…

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Akron Iowa onsite visit update

Several years ago, I was in Akron, Iowa, population 1,558, for an onsite Idea Friendly visit for one week. They’ve been gathering their crowd, building connections, and taking small steps. Their former mayor, Sharon, sends updates periodically. The following is from her latest email update. We now have seven businesses serving food: Casey’s. Chubs is…

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What if you held your meetings outside?

You’ve sat through plenty of board meetings and a few city council meetings. They are held in the ‘official’ locations, with assigned seating (real or imagined) and there’s a course of action you must follow.  What if you moved your meeting outside?  Send the previous minutes and financials out by email ahead of time and…

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Be an Idea Friendly board member

Most of us who actively volunteer and work in a small town will more than likely be a board member of some organization eventually. The first role of any board is the fiscal wellness of the organization. Knowing the mission statement and being familiar with the bylaws, will help guide your decisions. Your job from…

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Creating A Food Cultural Event

On our Arts Video I talked about different cultures participating in a food event. Lisa wrote in and asked how to take the first steps in her community to bring different cultures together. Webster City has an organization called All Cultures Equal (ACE). They have a physical location with ESL classes, food bank, homemade kind…

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What can you do to help create young entrepreneurs?

We complain that our young people don’t want to stay here, or come back here. In fact, in our survey of rural challenges this complaint is always in the top 5. Let’s take a look at how we’ve created this monster and what we can do about it.  Why is it they don’t want to…

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There’s a little bit of artist in all of us

There’s more to art than visual arts.  Do you quilt or crochet? Those skills are artistic.  Do you know how to use a forge? Have you made products in the forge? Again, this is art.  Have you helped your kids and grandkids paint things on the driveway with chalk? That’s practicing art and teaching the next generations that…

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Using art to build community

I sit on a volunteer board for Legacy Learning Boone River Valley in Webster City, Iowa. I was surprised at the number of local instructors in my community that are artists and teach workshops. Some examples of the local art these folks teach include: the Scandinavian thread work craft of Hardanger, Pine Needle Baskets, one of…

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Results from the Survey of Rural Challenges

Every other year we send out a survey of Rural Challenges. We expected Covid 19 to lead in challenges this year, however we were surprised!  Long-term local rural challenges outweighed the impact of COVID-19. We found that rural community stories are not what the media is telling everyone. Common themes in media coverage and policy…

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Housing: Do you need a developer for second story housing?

Not every second story housing project is  possible by a bank loaning someone the money to build or rehab. Webster City, Iowa has several buildings downtown with second story spaces. Three of those second stories are now housing. It wasn’t a developer that came in and bought the buildings and fixed them up. That’s a…

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