The famous British author, J.K. Rowling once said. “I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” When it comes to building a rock-solid community foundation from which to build upon, many communities seem to encounter the same obstacles. But just as the quote points out, oftentimes when we feel we are at rock-bottom, that is the time to start building and becoming whom we believe we can ultimately become.
How might a struggling community begin to build that rock-solid foundation? Let me offer a few suggestions.
When I visit or work with communities, the biggest problem I tend to see is that the same people are attempting to do all the work. Not only that, but we also see many communities where the same couple dozen people occupy most of the board seats on the Chamber, Main Street, Rotary, and other boards about town. It is great to see the dedication of the few that really pull their weight, but often, what we really see is people not doing much because they are overloaded serving in multiple organizations or just occupying a board seat to satisfy their egos.
Communities must expand their boards, committees, and involvement to build a strong foundation. They must involve younger generations, they must reach out to the youth of the community where it makes sense, and they must reach out to the organizations that have been left out. Where and who are these potential board, committee, and organizational members to be found?
When we assist a community in building a rock-solid foundation that will ultimately inspire and move forward a Truly Local mindset and habits, we leave no stone unturned. We encourage reaching out to local Veterans organizations such as the VFW and American Legion. We encourage reaching out to the local religious community and/or pastoral organizations. We encourage involving the youth through their schools as well as their educational leaders such as Superintendents and teachers etc. We have even seen school districts provide graduation credit for youth community involvement, much like a work credit program. It is great when you have first responders involved as well. They understand the nature of the community in whole new light. Also, reaching out to all the HealthCare facilities is important – they are critical.
That’s not all, we encourage communities to involve the media as much as possible. We like to see them involve additional business owners and leaders. Involving community political leaders adds a whole new element of communication if done right. Don’t overlook senior organizations as well as retired groups, they have knowledge, leadership and in many cases, ample time to serve.
When communities learn to marshal all their resources they will be able to build foundations unimagined with their previous processes. To build a working rock-solid foundation, you need an army of new resources to assure success. Many of the above groups literally have that army ready at the beck and call to perform community service, work events, create events, volunteer, and other tasks needed for success to follow.
Building a rock-solid foundation is critical for success. Involving as many community organizations and individuals as possible in that process is the key, after all, many hands make light work. Great leaders understand the need to build teams, they understand the need to involve everyone humanly possible. They will motivate the masses and excite the team and community. Great leaders are really what stands between failure and success. Make sure your community is building that rock-solid foundation. If they are not, just remember change is usually brought about by visionary leaders. Do what it takes to find those leaders and give them the reigns to foster hope and create your future through a rock-solid foundation.
John A. Newby, author of the “Building Main Street, Not Wall Street “ weekly column and CEO of Truly-Local, LLC, dedicated to assisting communities create excitement, energy and combine synergies with their local media where LOCAL is often lost to corporately-owned entities and the Internet. His email: info@Truly-Localllc.com