Friday, March 22, 2013


   Is your small rural town surviving, thriving, or dieing?  There is a lot of attention being paid to the survival of our small communities.  In Kansas we have the Kansas Sampler Foundation which makes this their whole focus.  But what are you doing to help?
     I was listening to my friend Ron Wilson from the Huck Boyd Institute at Kansas State talking about a successful small town grocery store.  A point was brought out that caught me because I have seen the attitude before.  Small business and small towns have to earn the business and loyalty they get from home folks.  You cannot just set back and say I am here and pay taxes you should do business with me.  It just does not work that way.  People have to want to come and do business locally.  It is a two way street.
     How does your town treat customers?  How do you treat citizens.  It is amazing how a town with multiple steeples and basic good citizens can end up acting like bullies.  Service and a smile is what creates loyal customers.  Compassion for the needs of citizens is another.  Many small towns have low income and handicapped housing.  Many end up treating them like a bother or second class citizens.
     Many of the people in the low income facilities want to be as normal as possible.  Many do not have drivers licenses or vehicles and yet they are several blocks from the grocery store, Dr. office, and other business.  Many towns are making provisions for the use of golf carts.  This is a great alternative in fair weather.  Many senior citizens and others utilize golf carts for there own needs.  So does your council make realistic provisions for them?  One town, who should know better, has required carts to be totally street legal, licensed, and driver have a license.  Really?  Power chairs can zip up and down the street, so can mopeds, but golf carts and other buggy type vehicles are required to have a licensed driver?  These people don't have licenses.
      Retirement communities in all the snow bird states recognise the efficiency of golf carts and welcome them.  There are town councils that welcome them and those that harass them.  Which are you?  This reflects on whether your really are a community worthy of surviving.
     I had a good friend that built a air trike.  He drove it around Wichita and one morning he was stopped by a patrolman to look at his creation.  He ended up having several officers there.  He did nothing wrong and they all concluded that it did not require a tag or license, (it was a slow night and they all had a great time looking at it).  I wonder how he would have been received in your home town.
     There is a principle that rural people have always lived by and it is "to have a friend you have to be a friend".  Funny how a town council can decide how they are going to be by who is driving and who is not.  Some can work things out and others act like a bully.
     I tend to believe that the friendly, industrious, and charitable small town will survive better than a town with a bully attitude.  Which is your community?

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