Rural culture: Hey look us over


Hey, look us over

There’s an article on page 9 of this week’s Observer that should prove interesting to readers throughout the area. The story was originally written as a “By The Way” column, but we later decided it would have more appeal as a feature story.

The article is about assessing the culture of a small, rural town, and it offers the premise that every little town has something to offer. The assessment guide was created by the Kansas Sampler Foundation and starts off with this question: “What does your community have that a visitor would want to see?”

That’s a question that causes many people to squirm, the assessment writers suggest, just before the obvious answer is given: “We don’t have anything.”

Taking a careful look at a community through the eight rural culture elements presented forces residents to see their town “through new eyes.” It can spur new interest and energy, it can create new ideas, it can increase the level of awareness about what a town has to offer.

As our staff came up with ideas for photos to illustrate the article, we could immediately see the process at work.

If done right, says the Kansas group, an array of facts will emerge. Many things will quickly come to mind; others have to be uncovered—either because they’re right under your nose and too obvious to consider or because they’re too far off the beaten track to remember.

The assessment helps a community realize how it’s alike and how it’s different from its neighbors. It brings out the strengths and it recognizes the areas where development will make the community stronger.

The Sampler Foundation further suggests organizing a State of the Town meeting in which representatives from the various organizations meet to talk about their own group and to discuss mutual projects.

We highly recommend looking through the assessment plan and giving some thought to how this community comes through. It’s a worthwhile program for any local organization to tackle.

    – DGG, April 3, 2003