How to find opportunities in small communities?

One opportunity will lead to another, so light a match somewhere and get things moving.

 

If you think your community is dying, do something about it.

Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices we need to make about our communities, rather than the needs of the real people who live there. It’s great to think in terms of ‘community development’, but it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers.

Without large capital expenditure, growth and business prosperity can only come about through increasing entrepreneurial participation and this requires a catalyst, providing motivation to act on endless possibilities and opportunities.

It is difficult to change things by fighting the existing reality. To change the community, create a new way vision that makes the existing thinking obsolete. Don’t wait for governments, people power is what you need to make a difference.

People are interested in stories and will go out of their way to investigate and talk to the people involved in the story. It is stories that attract the media and the media can attract the opportunities. What is your community’s story?

Tell your story, communicating what matters. tell a story about what your community is all about. It might no longer be interesting to you but it will be to others.

 

“Being happy in a small community doesn’t mean everything is perfect. When you look beyond the imperfections, that is where you will find the opportunities”. Peter Sergeant

 

Solve a mystery for people looking at your community. In other words, find a want or need and demonstrate that your community can meet it. Take several steps back and figure out how to articulate the larger purpose of your community and what it has to offer.

You should know your community and be able to talk convincingly about how you can do what’s needs to be done to make it even better. If you are interested in helping a small community to improve, look to talk with the right people:

  • Identify the local movers and shakers.
  • Who are the local heroes?
  • Find retired farmers, they are often very innovative.
  • Lay out a new way to look at work in the modern world.
  • Look for opportunities for creating lifestyle businesses.

What is distinctive about your community, natural or manmade. Some of the greatest tourist attractions have been discovered in small communities. Imagine a world ruled by fish! Long before the dinosaurs, the mighty rivers of the Central West teamed with bizarre ancient fishes, fish with armour shells, fish with lungs, and huge predators with jaws like crocodiles. Thousands of their fossils were found at Canowindra NSW and give a unique glimpse into the Devonian Period – the ‘Age of Fishes’.

Two other simple examples of what people can do:

  1. ‘Tambo Teddies’ is located in the middle of Central Western Queensland Australia, in the tiny outback town of Tambo, 900km west of Brisbane. It started back in 1992 when wool prices had crashed, the district was in the grip of a drought and the community of Tambo was challenged to come up with new industry to sustain the economy of this little town.

Three local ladies developed the idea that Tambo could assist the wool industry,  encourage tourists and create employment by making unique teddy bears and stuff them with wool. Since then three new women have taken the reins of Tambo  Teddies and have put the Internet at the front of their strategy.

The business has undergone a financial turnaround and new staff members hired. All staff are local people and the teddies themselves handcrafted in the outback. The business makes a donation to the Australian Koala Foundation for every Tambo  Teddy koala sold. And so the money starts to circulate.

  1. Margie Powell, 52, who had moved to the tiny community with no job prospects following a divorce.  She soon learned that the town had no rural garbage collection system. To solve the “mystery” of picking up garbage over an 800 square mile rural stretch of land, she drummed up 12 customers and hauled garbage to a landfill in an old horse trailer.

Her business grew, she bought a garbage truck and now she’s set to buy a bigger one. Powell told her story to her clients, she solved a local problem and she served as a steward for her community’s problems.

Some ways you can create opportunities for your community

  • Pay more attention to what is possible in the community.
  • Be aware of the potential of your impact.
  • Imagine opportunities everywhere you look.
  • Count and record the opportunities as you see them.
  • Put together some brainstorming
  • Engage an external facilitator.

 

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Personal Experience:

I was born and breed in Canowindra NSW, a small community of 1,700 people. I have to say there was both good and bad in that community. The good thing was that people cared about each other and their community and wanted to make it even better. The bad thing was that everyone thought it was ‘greener over the fence’ and focused too much on wishing and hoping, instead of taking more action.

The dilemma I have experienced is that people entrenched in small community hate change, but they love it at the same time. What they really want is for things to remain the same but for their circumstances to improve.

In many communities I have visited, very few people expressed excitement about their community, even though they loved living there, but they were only too willing to tell me what was wrong with it.

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