Dying communities have people chasing two rabbits but never gets either
I get a little frustrated when people tell me their town is boring or worse still dying. That’s because, from my outside point of view, your town is not dying. It’s just exactly what it is now, no more or less.
To some extent, your generation determines what you think about your town and whether it’s dying. It’s not that your generation defines you. It is how long you’ have been around which determines how much history you’ve seen, and what you’ll compare to the present.
If you’ve seen decades of the history of your town, it can cloud your objectivity and perspective. Most people keep wanting to compare today to how things were 20, 30 or 50 years ago. Even though you know the community is not going back, it’s hard to overcome those good memories.
During your lifetime, things have changed. Technology has changed. Demographics have changed. You’ve changed.
But you still remember how it used to be
That affects how you see things today. You remember when downtown was full of traditional retail stores. When you don’t see those same stores, you may be tempted to say things like, “our town is dying.”
You don’t see the non-traditional businesses spread all over town, where people are doing business with their laptops and smartphones. Many aren’t aware of the million dollar company with no employees operating from someone’s house. Perhaps you haven’t shopped at the retailers who are selling only online and shipping orders all over.
It’s not about bringing your town back from the brink. It’s about bringing your town forward into the future. I find it weird, that in Australia our flag and culture offend so many people, yet our benefits don’t.
Many people in our communities and beyond are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact, do little to help. Some people do a lot but don’t talk about it and they are the ones who make a community prosper, they are the ‘movers and shakers’.
It is hard to create jobs in dying communities.
Something has to change in dying communities
Someone has to become creative and start to innovate, or we will have even more dying communities. According to Brenna Sniderman, there are five types of innovators.
- Movers and Shakers encompass up to one-third of the executive suite and possess strong personal drive. They thrive on the idea of creating a legacy and wielding influence over others.
- Experimenters are the risk-takers. Their persistence, even in the face of pushback, makes them critical to the innovation cycle.
- Star Pupils tend to be CEOs – they rise through the ranks and make things happen, even when the odds are stacked against them.
- Controllers tend to populate the more practical, less visionary in the hierarchy. Instead of taking risks, they would rather focus on concrete, clear objectives.
- Hangers-on are those who keep reminding everyone of their limitations and institutional processes.
Why not host a small gathering, serve some refreshments with the entrepreneurs and innovators in your town? Do it after work hours and just talk, which is something you can all do together without the smartphones? Expect to come up with ideas and opportunities to start driving your community into the future.
“You can control your own destiny, whether that is good or bad”. Barry Diller
“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes”. Jean Vanier