Building Community: Sweat the Small Stuff

Where Do You Want to Go Today?

We like to talk about the Big Stuff in rural development, like consolidation in agriculture or what to do about Walmart, but there’s usually not much we can do about it at the local level.

However, communities that pay attention to details—people who sweat the small stuffcan get things done and get where they want to go.  UMN Extension Educator Ryan Pesch picks up on a thread from Ben Winchester’s discussion I mentioned this week about community vitality on MPR, which makes sense since they work together. He offers three key themes for community leaders to build on:

  • Involvement.  Reach outside your comfort zone, and reach out to newcomers.
  • Leadership.  It’s not about elected positions; it’s about stepping up to the plate and getting things done.  And if you’re a leader now, remember theme #1 and bring your replacement on board.
  • Problem Solving.  There’s no shortage of ideas, but never enough people.  Sometimes you just have to get it done.


Nothing new here.  In fact, Ryan name-drops the Heartland Center for Leadership Development in Nebraska, who have been active in this field for a long time [full-disclosure: I worked on a project in grad school with Vicki & Milan at Heartland, they’re great folks and know their stuff.]  They recently updated their Clues to Rural Community Survival, which is worth checking out if you haven’t read it before, or simply revisiting if you have.

I stumbled on this post on the new website for the West Central Initiative Foundation out of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  Extension is using some nifty Adobe tools to capture voice/powerpoint presentations.  If you’ve got ~25 minutes, you can see Ryan’s presentation on the WCIF blog.


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