I received lots of ideas on how to make my town a better place when I was a chamber director. One was to put up holiday lights in the trees downtown. Putting lights in trees would encourage people to spend time downtown and would be a visible sign of improvement and pride in our community. So I called the city manager, who liked the idea too. The city manager had the city crews assigned to put up the lights.
I thought I was building community!
But I was still doing things the old way. The city manager and I had cut everyone else in the community out of the project. And we didn’t get any new volunteers!
How could I have created small but meaningful ways for people in the community to be part of lighting up downtown?
- What if we let everyone pick a tree to decorate themselves? They wouldn’t all match, but who cares?
- People who chose a tree and decorated it would share pictures online. They could talk about the fun they had doing it together. It would be a lasting experience that they shared together.
- Then building owners could get inspired to decorate their downtown buildings with lights.
- Other businesses could decorate their windows.
In fact the entire town could participate.
People could decorate their houses or put lights in the windows of their apartments. If you couldn’t do anything else, could you drag a light into the front window for one night? Each single light in the window shows someone who lives there that cares about their town.
Not only will this cut down on your workload, and that of your STP, it will also encourage more people to volunteer in the future!
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