“You’ll see it when you believe it.” —Wayne W. Dyer, Ph.D., author/speaker
What keeps you here? “Here” being where you live. Not the street or the house, but the community. More specifically, your rural community, when there are plenty of other small towns and urban areas to choose from?
That question goes for any town, but sometimes if you look closer, it’s more obvious why certain ones make the grade, why some just hang on and why others fail, dying a slow death.
Location, location, location can be a contributor. Some are blessed with it. Their reasons for thriving are based on where they sit.
Silver City, N.M., 10,500 people gathered on the edge of the Gila National Forest, surrounded by acres of protected wildlife areas and natural hot springs.
Bonners Ferry, Idaho, population 2,596, located on the banks of the Kootenai River, with natural waterfalls and river valley scenery in every direction.
Corn Wall, Conn., nestled in the New England landscape. The 1,500 residents live and work by the Housatonic River and Housatonic Meadows, which is part of the Appalachian Trail.
Location is an obvious advantage for towns like these, which were in the 2009 top 11 “Best Great Places You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of” in Mother Earth News.
Even though they have the luck of geographic placement, they have found specific ways to attract and keep just the right number of the right people to do more than just settle.
Reading through the list of attributes these towns have, the common denominator is creative people. These are artistic communities.
Bonners Ferry converted an old bank into a popular art gallery where the small county’s two dozen artists rent space to display and sell their artwork.
Corn Wall holds a successful annual art show, put on by the 70 local artists in town.
Silver City went so far to outline a “cultural plan” to officially show their support for creative and artistic groups and entrepreneurs.
Another list maker, Mountain View, Ark., holds huge outdoor Ozark jam sessions with as many as 3,000 fiddle, banjo and guitar players, in the courthouse square. This in a town of 3,000 residents.
Art, music, education, creativity, entrepreneurs and passionate people keep towns hopping. You can bet the residents vary in age.
Retirees looking for peace and quiet.
Young families desperate to expose their kids to as much culture and opportunity possible in a safe and sound environment.
College students who will have life choices to make in a few short years. Even if they choose to see the world first, most will eventually look for one spot to settle into. Will they choose their home or college town?
What if that town’s located in central Kansas? No mountains in the back yard. No historic falls or cliff dwellings. No lighthouses, no canyons, no beaches.
We have some sunsets. But there needs to be something else. Artistic, creative, resourceful people with ideas to spare can be found about anywhere. The towns that thrive take it a step further by doing.
Everybody has a passion buried somewhere. It seems that in the towns like Mother Earth reported on, the passions are nurtured, encouraged and supported.
Retirees want peace and quiet. But they also want something to do. Young families want good schools and safe streets. But they want something to do, too. And there’s no question college kids want something to do.
It’s the perfect time for each individual to showcase his or her passions and to get more creative and generous with their time and talents. (Zumba class or oil painting, anyone?)
I know I am part of a community that encourages creativity. I wouldn’t want any less for my kids. And hopefully, as more people open up and reveal their talents, the rest of us will take advantage of whatever suits our tastes.
Passion is contagious. It’s motivating to watch someone do the thing they love the most. No matter how small each activity may seem.
A lot of smalls add up to one great big.
Speaking of a lot of smalls, our local park just lost a big piece of playground equipment because it failed a safety inspection. It needs to be replaced. A lot of small donations would add up quickly. A committee is being formed now, and once that’s done, the donation soliciting begins.
I have small kids, so I don’t need to be convinced how important safe and fun equipment is for our park. Hopefully, everyone else will see that it’s more than an expensive (which it will be) item to fund.
It’s the future of our progressive town, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. It’s the kind of thing that pushes certain towns onto one of those “best” lists.
That and natural hot springs. We’re still working on that.