January 25 8:30 am
Keynote: Small Town Revitalization
Murray County, GA 

February 12  7 to 9 pm Central
Reimagining Rural: Idea Friendly
Montana State University 

March 27, 2024
Webinar with Dell Gines, IEDC, and Becky McCray
Rural Collaboration - no charge

May 6-8 Birmingham, AL
Innovative Rural Business Models: Grow Your Own
Main Street NOW 

May 12-16
Intensive Action Visit, 3 day Community Engagement
Shawnee, OK 

June 12, 2024
Webinar with Melody Warnick, author, and Becky McCray
Talent Attraction

June 24-25, 2024
Grow Your Food Business Ecosystem
National Rural Grocery Summit 
Montgomery, Alabama 

July 11, 2024
Webinar for SourceLink Affiliates, with Becky McCray
Innovative Rural Business Models

July 17-19, 2024
Keynote for West Texas Rural Philanthrophy Days in Alpine Texas
Rural Non-Profit Needs

October 21-24, 2024
Presentation at NADO Annual Training in New Orleans
Filling Empty Buildings 

November 12-14, 2024
Illinois Main Street
Topic TBD

In the works:

  • Lost River Valley, Idaho with National Travel Center in October
  • Wyoming Working Together, Fall 2025


February 6-9, 2023
Swift County, Minnesota
Onsite Visit

February 15, 2023 
Virtual Roundtable for Radically Rural
Becky and I will be discussing volunteerism and community engagement.Greenlee 

March 29-31, 2023
Gowrie, Iowa
Gowrie Development Commission Annual Banquet

April 5-8, 2023
Eastern Kentucky, Jackson County and Grayson
What's Next EKY's Community Accelerator program,
Onsite Visits

May 17, 2023
Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Moss Point Area Council
Keynote: Economic Development Ideas for Small Towns

July 25-28, 2023
Letcher County, KY Visit and Workshop
Idea Friendly Workshop

August 1, 2023
Webinar to Jefferson City, MO Downtown Association
Idea Friendly Method

August 17, 2023
Rural Rise Speaker Series
Innovative Rural Business Models

August 23, 2023
Interview with Iowa Ideas for In Depth Week - Urban/Rural Divide

Topic: How can you build support for a new idea and help open minds to it? And how can you harness the power to get new volunteers into the fold?

September 17-20, 2023 Dallas, Texas 
International Economic Development Council Annual Conference
Interactive Rural Focused Idea Friendly Method Workshop

September 22, 2023 Isanti, Minnesota
Keynote speaker for GPS 4593
Stories and solutions to rural challenges in smalltowns

October 9, 2023
Online Course for  Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Iowa State University
Cheap Downtown Placemaking Ideas

Conferences attending:

Gladly Connect May 9-10, 2023

2023 Placemaking in Small & Rural Communities Conference' May 23, 2023

State of the Coast Symposium May 24, 2023

Folklife in the South June 8-10, 2023

Standup Rural America September 5-7, 2023 Laurel, MS


In Planning:

  • working with Keith County, NE planning an Intensive Action Visit
  • webinar with Wisconsin Extension


Highlights of 2022

International Work:

Working with rural people in Portugal including a

  • Facebook Live presentation on Innovation and Sustainability to the state, touring an old oil storing industrial space now being used as a coworking space in Lisbon,
  • visits to a handmade tile business and several small towns,
  • gathering with Henrique Sim-Sim, Advisor to the General Secretary and Coordinator of the Social and Development Area at Fundação Eugénio de Almeida, Carlos Sezoes, Managing Partner at Darefy, Me, Rui BarrosoDirector Digital Transformation at DECSIS, Frederico Lucas, Rural Investments @ GROUS PARTNER, and Eurico Cabrita, Chemistry Professor at NOVA School of Science and Technology.


  • Sharing the Idea Friendly Method at the Annual Meeting of members for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Community Futures Manitoba and Saskatchewan Virtual
    Keynote Using Idea Friendly to Create Youth Entrepreneurship
  • Innovative trends and actions for rural retailers at the Iowa State University Closing Presentation Conference- Retailing, Entrepreneurship, & Small Business
  • Filling Empty Buildings for the Minnesota Brownfields Conference
  • Filling Empty Buildings for the EDAM Conference in Brainerd, MN
  • Filling Empty Buildings and Lots for the WV Brownfields Conference & Main Street/On Trac Training
  • Using the Idea Friendly Method for the Rice Lake Community Getting Action Ready Conference
  • Using the Idea Friendly Method for the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission


  • Mark Twain Council of Governments Workshop
    Virtual Workshop – using the Idea Friendly Method
  • Montana Reimaging Rural Idea Friendly virtual workshop
  • Panel for Iowa State University design students in Webster City, Iowa


  • How to be Successful at Economic Development Without Blowing the Budget for Cooperatives First in Canada
  • Workforce Solutions Roundtable for the University of Idaho

Onsite Action Visits:

  • Colorado- Four counties: Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, Cheyenne
  • Five Counties in Montana, wrap up of 2 year project
  • La Junta CO - Onsite Visit with Agritourism Workshop and Chamber BLT Keynote


Each month we shared the videos we’ve written, shot, and recorded. Our focus was building fairer, more unified communities in 2022. You can take a look at our site to see what videos are available:

Watch Parties with Montana Team (and all members invited)

  • Trends
  • The Future of Retail
  • Finding More Volunteers
  • Placemaking Your Parks, Trails and Water: Building Community Stewardship
  • Bringing Life and Activity Downtown
  • and Zoom Towns
deb practical

It was a true pleasure meeting and supporting you today. Your preparation and professionalism was reflected in your session. I appreciate your adaptability as well. Alexa Schulz IEDC

IEDC workshop23
evora crew

Thanks Deb Brown SaveYour.Town for bringing your community-building wisdom to Central MN for the annual GPS::45::93 gathering and touring the region to support the ideas of many rural champions! Have been a fan a long time of your approach rooted in joy and what’s uniquely achievable.

Brian Voerding, Vice President for Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Initiative Foundation 

EDAM preso
Bozeman Trail group

Highlights of 2021:


Each month we wrote, shot and recorded videos. Our focus was community in 2021. You can take a look at our site:


  • An interactive workshop on how Cooperatives engage in Community for Montana Council of Cooperatives Annual meeting
  • Looking Forward: Rebuilding your Local Economy for British Columbia
  • Closing keynote at Midstates Conference
  • Filling Empty Buildings at StandUp Rural America in West Virginia
  • Survey of Rural Challenges Results for NRECA in Minneapolis and Las Vegas
  • Building Up New Leaders/Engaging Young Families, using the Idea Friendly Method for Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
  • Idea Friendly for Saskatchewan Economic Development Alliance(SEDA)


  • North Carolina Webinar series
  • Idea Friendly Webinar for Rural Summit Wisconsin
  • Moving Forward for Valdez, AK
  • First Friday for Kansas State Research and Education
  • Filling Empty Buildings for Texas Rural Funders

Embedded Community Experiences: 

  • Delaware County, Iowa
  • 5 Counties in Montana, part of a 2 year project
  • Lincoln Highway Corridor in Iowa
  • Missouri Council of Governments Region


  • Shop Local Campaign Building for Newcastle WA
  • 2 year project with 5 Counties in Montana
Deb portrait
Deb at conference in LA
people at dinner table

If this is something you’d like to talk about with me, just shoot me an email and let’s talk!

Looking back at 2020

My own Idea Friendly Story

Brendan Hoffman, international photojournalist from Kiev, Ukraine, was spending two months at my place. It was an artist residency giving him the opportunity to showcase his photos from the Ukraine War. It was a perfect opportunity for me to try out an Idea Friendly big idea. What if we had a temporary gallery in an empty building? Brendan was on board, as was Legacy Learning Boone River Valley.

A group of interested people gathered, discussed what was needed and began taking small steps to get it done. No committee meetings, just everyone doing a little something. An empty building, press releases, online marketing, outreach to Ukrainian communities, funds for framing photos, volunteers to greet visitors were just a few of the connections made and small steps taken.

It went off without a hitch. It was successful under regular conditions: great turnouts, promotion of the empty space (now full), and recognition for the artist. More surprising results were tied to the actual photographs. They showed the viewers that war can happen anywhere, and quickly. This area of the Ukraine was once just another group of small communities, living their lives day to day. Then one day armoured tanks rolled through their streets, bombings happened, many people died. War is real.


Each month we wrote, shot and recorded videos. After the pandemic began we switched to videos that focused on recovery. We also reduced the price to $5. You can take a look at our site:


  • Opening Keynote for TS Bank Economic Development Conference for Rural towns in Staunton, Iowa, Filling Empty Buildings.
  • Opening Keynote in Hannibal MO for North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) Title
  • Annual Dinner Keynote in Rock Valley, Iowa The Future of Rural
  • Keynote for Small Business at Sequin TX The Future of Small Business
  • Spoke at Radically Rural Remote Take Your Empty Buildings off Furlough!
  • SMTulsa 8 Ways to get around the rules
  • Montana Extension presentation with Becky McCray Idea Friendly Method 
  • TMCN Virtual Conference – Seeing the Small Town Future
  • presentation to RCD in Hancock County Filling Empty Buildings and Lots

Student Work

  • Live Q and A with students in Idaho
  • Students in Grundy County, Illinois How to start a rural business



  • BCEDA Refilling the Business Pipeline
  • First Friday Kansas State Grow Your Own Entrepreneurs, Making Entrepreneurship Self Sustaining 
  • NRECA Community Development webinar series Save Your Town By Engaging Everyone
  • Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program at K-State The Future of Rural

Radio interview

  • Jackie Shireman of WBBA Radio in Pittsfield, Ill.
  • KHMO AM of Hannibal
  • Scott Hardy at WTAD Radio in Quincy, Ill

Recorded interviews posted on LinkedIn:

  • Ann in Idaho
  • Rob Hatch
  • Ted Kilmer
  • Pastor
  • Erica Pangburn
  • Mary Hodson
  • Andrew Button
  • Chris Casillas
  • CC Chapman


  • Ripley Ohio
  • Mt Ayr Iowa
  • 5 counties in Montana


  • Client in upstate NY
  • I meet regularly with Brook Boehmler, and we coach each other


  • #140Liv Co Hosted several episodes with Jeff Pulver
  • Spoke to Rotary about Art in Communities
  • Did a live Q and A on Our Town Matters
Day 2-113

Previous Speaking Appearances include:

  • Brownfields National Annual Training
  • NADO Annual Conference
  • International Economic Development Conference
  • TEDx Brookings
  • Western Area Chamber Executives Conference, Los Angeles
  • Radically Rural Conference, Keene, New Hampshire
  • Colorado Hospital Association Annual Conference
  • Michigan Association of Planners Annual Conference
  • Rural X Summit
  • Misfit Conference
  • 140 Character Conferences – NYC,  Iowa, and Small Town
  • Regards to Rural Conference, Portland, OR
  • Michigan Small Town and Rural Development Conference
  • Mid America Chamber Executives (MACE)
  • The Future of Rural Conference, Klamath Falls, OR
  • Historic Preservation Summit Iowa
  • Iowa Byways
  • Women’s Business Conference, Kearney, NE
  • MidStates Economic Development Conference
  • Stuart, Iowa Chamber Dinner
  • Building Communities Conference, Surf Ballroom, Iowa
  • Rural Arts and Culture Summit, Morris Minnesota
  • Central Iowa Tourism
  • Southern Illinois Economic Development Conference
  • Western Iowa Tourism
  • Missouri Community Betterment Association Conference (twice)
  • Milbank, South Dakota
  • Monroe Economic Development Conference, Monroe, Wisconsin
  • Iowa Museum Association Annual Conference
  • Rural Business and Innovation Summit, Klamath Falls, OR
  • Rural That Works Annual Conference
  • Social Media Breakfast, Mason City, Iowa and Albert Lea, Minnesota

Previous Embedded Community Experiences:

  • Akron, Iowa
  • Belle Fourche, South Dakota
  • Ritzville, Washington
  • Avon, Minnesota
  • Cold Springs, Minnesota
  • York, Nebraska
  • Rock Valley, Iowa
  • Bennettsville, South Carolina
  • Forest County, Pennsylvania
  • Ohio RCAP Project: Minerva, Carrollton, Columbiana, Sebring, Fostoria,  and Paulding, Ohio
  • Roscommon County, Michigan
  • Estherville, Iowa
  • Webster City, Iowa

Previous Webinars:

  • Rural Economic Development Webinar – Blaine, Canada and Pro Learning Laboratory
  • SaveYour.Town Videos Monthly with Becky McCray
  • National Realtors Association Webinar with Tyler Abens
  • K State Research and Extension Webinar Marketing Your Small Town 
  • K State Research and Extension Webinar Filling Empty Buildings

Engagements for 2019 to 2022

This is a full listing of dates, places and topics.