“Change can be activated in a society
by way of story.”
When I’m on an Idea Friendly onsite visit, I look for ways people can take small steps, to volunteer in a small way. I also look for the stories of locals already serving their well loved communities. The power of story has the ability to change the outcome of a town.
This is a story to be told, often.
Here’s a one day job volunteering that he did willingly.
One gentleman showed up at the community center the day I was there dressed as the Easter Bunny. He had been at the local jail, the community center, the gas station – anywhere that needed some cheering up.
Here’s another short term opportunity to volunteer.
We took a driving tour around Annville, KY and noticed this housing place nestled among the mountains with a babbling brook and park space behind it. Shame on me, my first thought was “why do people keep trash like that outside of their homes?” It was pointed out to me that the grandmother who lives there is raising her grandchildren and doesn’t have the wherewithall or physicality or time to clean up that small mess. The woman giving us the tour stated this would be a great half a day volunteer opportunity for a bunch of ninjas. And said she’ll get right on that. Two other people in the car said they’d help.
Talk to each other
The first evening I was in Jackson County they held a gathering for anyone who wanted to come and hear about ways to save their community. Erik from Backroads of Appalachia made available the small historical site at Big Hill to gather. The image below is just 1/3 of the room. I don’t go to any town, bring a template with some big city idea on it they can dumb down. I ask folks to tell me who they are and what they want in their community. Then we talk about it.
Here’s one story of many folks who volunteered in a small way to help a new business get started.
Kathy pictured in the lower left wants to start her own outdoor business providing items to use to traverse the region. But she only has one side by side. We talked about just getting started with that one item. And one lady offered her canoe for Kathy to use. This started a conversation around the room of how she could start now, using what others offer and they would help her too.
How volunteers can work together in partnership
The couple next to Kathy are farmers, who used to run a dairy. Dairy farming is hard, and they had to try something else. He has converted the dairy barn into a space where he can do woodworking. He also wants to really use that space, and make it available for others to use. We talked about the Old Geezers Club in Akron, Iowa. Several others in the room had ideas for them and wanted to help. There were artists in attendance and were grateful for a space to work on their art, and also sell it. They could also volunteer to be in the space sometimes to help run it.
Your officials need to hear your stories
McKee, KY is the county seat and also has the fastest internet speed in the United States. That’s because the Peoples Rural Telephone Company and their leader Keith Gabbard have made it so. You can read about how that happened in The New Yorker article. This group met and had a lively discussion with me. Keith is the guy on the far left. Tim Truett, the 89th district state representative was there too. He’s also the elementary school principal. Small town folks wear many hats. Many of these folks have been trying to establish a lodging tax. However, a magistrate has to ask the fiscal court to review it. And no magistrate would do that. Funny, you mention the word ‘tax’ and people get nervous. Tim, along with the tourism board, got the fiscal court to look at it at their next meeting!
Talking about what you want can lead to volunteer actions that make small things happen
You can stop if you want
Grayson was not to be outdone. We started at the Grayson Art Gallery early in the morning. A big tables worth of people showed up at 8 am. They were there to hear what they could do to help their small town. Many of them stayed for the rest of the day, spent with a walking tour of downtown, lunch and a driving tour of the region. The folks in the picture below know how to volunteer.
Idea Friendly: kill the committees, get to work and have fun with taking small steps
The mayor kept notes on his phone, but just the notes that pertained to him. (Yes, I gave him assignments.) The Main Street folks plan to set up an Art Trail and involve the artists in town. And the two of them won’t do it all themselves. The artists and building owners will be involved. As we walked around, we got some permissions on places to put murals.
Volunteering can be easier and with more people, yet make such a big difference in a small way
Telling our stories, sharing our ideas and asking for help make change possible, and sooner.
Thanks to the kind folks in Kentucky for welcoming me with open arms,
Have you seen the Find More Volunteers video (or audio) yet? Invest $9 in your community.