Inside the Chamber September 12, 2019

September 05, 2019

PART 2: 13 Ways to Kill Your Community

If you were to set out on a kamikaze rampage to “kill your community” how would you do it?  Last week, I highlighted the first 7 ways that author and educator, Doug Griffith states in his lecture and book, “13 Ways to Kill Your Community.”  If you didn’t read my column last week, here’s a quick summary to catch you up:  Griffith committed himself and his research to identifying common behaviors or even dysfunctions which overtime contribute to the success or demise of communities across the country.  He uses “reverse psychology” to prove his point that despite our inclinations to view certain things as beyond our control — the rise or fall of our community is more often than not rooted in simple, black and white choices --- to do something or not to do something.  These are behaviors, habits or priorities that we all make every day as community and business leaders or citizens. The first seven were as follows:

1. Don’t prioritize water supply and quality

2. Don’t attract new business

3. Don’t engage youth

4. Don’t Assess Community Needs and Assets

5. Shop Elsewhere

6. Ignore the Appearance of Businesses and the Community At Large

7. Silos are essential


To finish out this series, I’m going to focus on the remaining six.  I hope you’ll challenge yourself to identifying and taking ownership of the role you play in crafting Catawba County’s future. 


8. Live in the Past

Griffith points our that attitude is everything when it comes to the demise of your community.   Living in the past and dwelling on problems rather than suggesting or creating solutions, will surely strangle any feelings of optimism and pride and stifle the creatives and innovators driving transformative change in our community. 


9. Ignore the Seniors

Seniors are consumers that contribute significantly to the overall economy of the community. Most are actively engaged and generously contribute with the time, talent and treasure to the building the community in which they live.  Griffith stated that successful communities don’t just keep their seniors, they attract others.


10. Don't Try Anything New

Griffith states that if you want to keep your community downtrodden and, in its place, continue using the same leaders, the same leadership styles and the same ideas over and over again while continuing to expect different results. Thriving communities have leadership that seek new ideas, identify others to come along beside and behind them to continue to push the community forward, study best practices and engage rational voices that may have a differing opinion and perspective.  In the same way, growing communities have passionate citizens who become actively engaged and lead efforts to support and enhance the efforts of community leaders and even constructively challenge “the same old way” of doing things.  Knowing your own talents, how can you lean into community leadership?


11. Ignore Immigrants and Newcomers

If you’re on a kamikaze mission to snuff out any growth potential, by all means, don’t go out of your way to attract immigrants and newcomers.  Their ideas, backgrounds, beliefs, skin color and even their language, may be different! (A gasp!)  Growing communities’ welcome newcomers, including immigrants into their community. They recognize and celebrate diversity and the numerous benefits that come along with it.  I hear often that we are a warm and welcoming community – how can we, individually and collectively, continue to bridge divides between ages, races, genders and socioeconomic classes? To be a place where all feel as if they belong, are safe and represented. 

12. Take No Risks

Taking risks and embracing change is essential to growth --- whether in business and in your personal life.  Communities are no different.  Griffith states, “If you like the status quo and have no stomach for risk taking – you’ll be in a good leadership position to keep your community away from all chances of being successful.”

13. Don’t (You Dare) Take Responsibility

Lack of housing, young people leaving for more urban metros, lack of diversity in leadership positions, a lack of “things to do”, declining volunteerism, a homeless population…etc --- they are always someone else’s fault right?  Just think of the progress that could be made if we would all accept ownership of these community needs!  Negative, finger-pointing people are unable to think beyond the problems, place their focus and energy on everything that is wrong, troll the internet leaving unproductive dissent in their wake and contribute nothing to crafting a more vibrant future.  Positive thinking people see problems as an opportunity to make changes, develop new skills, make money, meet new people, create new partnerships, engage and serve. 

As Griffith so poignantly states, “If you are determined to see your community fail, ensure you and everyone else you know does not take responsibility for any problems in your community….that way, no one will feel compelled to fix anything. Whatever you do, find someone to blame. Challenge them to fix the problems but don’t take on any responsibility yourself and definitely don’t ever offer to work with others to problem solve.”


I always appreciate your insight and comments on what I write my columns each week – contact me anytime at or 828-328-6111.

Lindsay Keisler, President & CEO, (828) 431-7223