If you were to set out on a kamikaze rampage to “kill your community” how would you do it? Doug Griffith, educator and author of, “13 Ways to Kill Your Community”, 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, “to do something or not to do something” choices. These are behaviors, habits or priorities that we all make every day as community and business leaders or citizens. This week I’m going to focus on the first 7 of the “13 Ways” and next Sunday, I’ll continue with 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.
1. Don’t prioritize water supply and quality
Something we in Catawba County often take for granted, however, the quality and supply of water is directly related to economic development and quality of life. Griffith states, “If you want your community to fail, if you do not want to see it grow – just don’t bother to address the issue of water (supply, quality, safety, disposal, etc.)
2. Don’t attract new business
Competition is good, good competition is better….and grows the tax base and community wealth by creating jobs. A community that is sustainable and thriving is a community that is innovative in attracting and providing resources and support to business of all size in our community. “If death of your community is the ultimate goal, don’t bother doing anything about attracting new people and new businesses to your community.”
3. Don’t engage youth
Thriving communities engage the next generation of leadership. Young professionals (35 or younger) have fresh perspectives and energy to make things happen. The more young people who are engaged in community affairs, the more vibrant the community will be. No more “kids table” --- they need to be around the board room table, on commissions and committees, and in elected office. Griffith says, “If stifling your community is your plan, continue not engaging youth, don’t find reasons for them to stay and don’t seek out and use their ideas.”
4. Don’t Assess Community Needs and Assets -
What are the most critical issues inhibiting growth in our community? What are our community’s “great stories”? Engage in solving community issues and shine a light on telling our communities best stories. “If the failure of your community is the ultimate goal, just continue doing things the ways you have always done them while you continue to expect different results.”
5. Shop Elsewhere
Do you want to live in a community with fun and unique shops? A diverse selection of restaurants? Plentiful options for entertainment? Patronize local business! “Taking your business elsewhere is a sure fire way your business community can decrease business, lose customers and jobs and eventually close their doors”, says Griffith.
6. Appearance of Businesses and the Community At Large
Why would people choose to live or start a business in a community that is aging or unkept. Public investment yields private investment. If we invest in ourselves, families and entrepreneurs will invest in us. We’re seeing this take place all over our community with streetscapes, beautification, parks, infrastructure, connectedness, inspiring public spaces and more. Private investment is following suit in abundance. “If the failure of your community is your ultimate goal, continue to make business and community aesthetics a low priority and you will no doubt be very successful in driving business and newcomers away from your community.”
7. Silos are essential
It’s essential that business, government, education and non-profits collaborate and work together to identify and address community needs, while proactively capitalizing on opportunities for economic growth. In Catawba County, we pride ourselves on the spirit of corporation and accountability. Griffith states, “You can be assured of leading your community into a pattern of bullying, intimidation and hostility, if you are determined and cunning enough.”
*I’ll summarize the remaining six of the “13 Ways to Kill Your Community” in next Sunday’s column. I always appreciate your insight and comments on what I write my columns each week – contact me anytime at email@example.com or 828-328-6111.