submitted by Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, and printed with permission from the Renville County Register
What if a young couple with children happened to stop in our town? And, what if they were thinking about moving back to a rural area from the big city to raise their kids here?
And, what if they stopped at the convenience store and found the bathrooms to be a mess? And what if the clerk behind the counter was a grump and didn’t seem to care whether he or she even liked their job, and not to mention people?
And, what if they wanted to spend a night or several days scouting out our towns as a potential new place to raise their kids? Could they locate a motel, hotel, or bed-and-breakfast without too much effort?
Could this young couple find parks easily? Are there direction signs available and visible to a newcomer?
Is our town friendly to riding bikes or walking around to see things? What kind of impression of our streets, stores, shops and restaurants is presented to the newcomers? Are there irresponsible dog owners who don’t pick up after the dog goes potty?
If a young family does find a park in our towns is there something for kids to do or play on? How about a picnic table where the newcomers or travelers can stop to eat their picnic lunch? Is there a bench in the park for the parents to sit on as they watch their kids unwinding from a trip in the car?
What if the parents of the other kids playing on the playground equipment are busy texting and talking while their own kids bully the newcomer’s kids? What if the texters/talkers never speak up to stop the bullying? Would this young family want to move to this town after this episode?
What if a young family looking for a new town to live in heard there was a swimming pool? Could they find info about it? Could they even find it or are there no signs about it? Could they locate a sign about open hours for public swimming? Is there a “kiosk” in a park where they could learn more about our town, including locations of important (to young families) places?
As the young family drives, walks, or bikes around the town they are looking at the houses and properties of the residents. Would there be well-kept lawns, flowers, and a well-kept house on each lot? What if there were junk cars, appliances, and junk of all kinds stacked up in some yards? Are the weeds pulled up around the houses instead of hiding the house from the street?
As travelers or possible new citizens to our towns drive into town, what kind of welcoming signs are there for them to see? Are the public service organizations listed at the entrance to our towns? Is the welcoming sign attractive and well-kept? Are there flowers around the welcome sign, or weeds?
As you can imagine, we could go on and on about first impression of our own towns. Discussing our town from a stranger’s perspective can be difficult and even embarrassing.
As you can see, everyone in our towns can be an ambassador for our towns. Imagine a stranger pulls up to where you are gardening or working in your yard. He or she asks where such and such a place is. Can you be helpful with that? We have seen where a home owner drove his or her own car and led the newcomer visitors to a church for a funeral in our town. That can convey a good impression about our town.
Going the extra mile really makes sense. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Helpful, friendly, cheerful, accommodating, nice, are just some of the words that can describe many of the people in our towns. Could there be more? Are you one of them?
Tatanka Bluffs Corridor, consisting of Redwood (16 towns) and Renville County (10 towns) should be an area that can make that first good impression on a stranger. Each of our 26 towns can plan, work, fix, plant, clean and be attractive to anyone who is looking for a super nice place to live.
We might consider becoming more familiar with some of the beautiful parts of our Counties too. Then, when we talk with strangers or possibly new members of our communities, we can share with them that there is more than those beautiful and green corn fields in our two counties. We have one of the most beautiful places in Minnesota. That is, of course the Minnesota River and its valley, plus the tributaries flowing into it. There are parks in both counties that hold many beautiful sights for folks to enjoy. The Minnesota River is the “zipper” that holds the two counties together.
We can make a list of all the things people would like about our town. Then we can make a list of what they might not like about it. Which list is longest? Can anything be done about any of those negative things about our towns?
Attitude is a biggie when we think about our Tatanka Bluffs Corridor area. Is our attitude that we don’t need any newcomers or boomerangers to come to our towns? Boomerangers are former students who might want to raise their kids where they can become “Free-Range Kids”. They want a safe and friendly place to raise their kids. A good attitude about our towns will make us think of the future of our towns. What would we like to see in the future? Will we still be a viable community in the future or will we just be hanging by a thread as we lose people and don’t gain any productive citizens anymore?
Becoming an ambassador for our towns is easy to do. Survival of our 26 communities is important to the future of our Counties. Can you help?
THE WISDOM OF SVEN
Sven says, “No matter how small and unimportant what we are doing may seem, if we do it well, it may soon become the step that will lead us to do better things.”