ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: RURAL AGGRESSION

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: RURAL AGGRESSION

For many of our rural communities, our future prosperity, quality of life, and heck, even our very existence, is dependent on sound economic development. I believe the same applies to rural economic development. If you don’t treat it aggressively, do you really understand the consequences of NOT being successful? Action is necessary. Continuing the status quo is not acceptable.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: LESSONS OF NEHEMIAH

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: LESSONS OF NEHEMIAH

Just like the people of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, the city walls of rural American need rebuilding. What if we recalibrated our time, effort, and energy to the right places? What if we focused that on the betterment of our community and the people within it? What if our priorities—individually, in our families, in our businesses and organizations—centered around giving of ourselves to improve our community? What could each of us accomplish? What could we accomplish together?

EPISODE 50 // BELLE GOLDEN OF BELLE'S FLOWER TRUCK

EPISODE 50 // BELLE GOLDEN OF BELLE'S FLOWER TRUCK

This week on the podcast we’re talking with Belle Golden of Belle’s Flower Truck in Tifton, Georgia. She’s sharing how, as someone who never had arranged flowers or even had dreams for a flower truck, knew in her heart this was something she was supposed to do and brought it to life in a matter of days. The result is now one of the hottest things in her small town - Belle’s Flower Truck.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: REPRISE - PRIDE AND COMMUNITY

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: REPRISE - PRIDE AND COMMUNITY

We talk a lot about “community pride” but simple, straightforward definitions of the phrase are hard to come by. After working through various discussions of community pride and the definitions of “community” and “pride,” I proposed the following definition of “community pride”:

“A collective group of people’s dignity in, and satisfaction with, objects of importance and meaning to their group.”

VIAN T-SHIRT COMPANY: COMING HOME TO VIAN

VIAN T-SHIRT COMPANY: COMING HOME TO VIAN

Vian was always a place my kids loved to visit, and it was a place that was so special to my husband — it was home. Throughout the years we had been asked when we were going to bring our business to Vian. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to expand once more. We purchased a building downtown to open our newest location and get started here. After seeing the beauty that had been brought out in the buildings surrounding us, we decided to do a complete remodel. A few plans have changed, but we are so excited for the future here.

EPISODE 49 // LYNDSEY SULLIVAN OF THE FIELD HOUSE

EPISODE 49 // LYNDSEY SULLIVAN OF THE FIELD HOUSE

This week on the podcast we’re in Vian, Oklahoma talking with Lyndsey Sullivan, who recently opened a lifestyle gym called The Field House. She’s sharing how she brought what had been a dream in her heart for over five years to life by restoring a vacant building on main street. Lyndsey’s shifting that mindset in her rural town by offering affordable price points and educating members that her gym is an all-around healthy lifestyle option - and her community is really embracing it.

STEM & LEAF: A FLORAL DESIGN CO.

STEM & LEAF: A FLORAL DESIGN CO.

Operating a floral business in a rural town is no simple feat. Doing the aforementioned while working a full-time job 40 miles away is just another layer of the proverbial onion. However, we had a plan! My sister had never arranged a flower before in her life, and from day one she would be the shopkeeper. It was a tough start, but with much determination, and more than one FaceTime call on my lunch break to help with flower arranging from afar, it has all seamlessly come together.

A HEART FOR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A HEART FOR COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Having worked at community and economic development for many, many years, I’m well aware of the countless individuals who’ve given so much time to their communities and to the entire region! And I’ve learned how so much more can be achieved through collaborations and partnerships than can ever be accomplished individually, making so many things possible that would not be otherwise. As our communities strengthen and our region prospers, you can see the work of committed individuals everywhere.

VIAN: MAKING THIS TOWN WHAT WE DREAMED IT COULD BE

VIAN: MAKING THIS TOWN WHAT WE DREAMED IT COULD BE

Our original goal of starting a business was to bring more people to our area, keep more money local and hope to share priceless time together as mother and daughter. What ended up happening was something unexpected and much more significant. We have met the most amazing people who live locally, are at the lake, or are traveling through — and have built relationships and friendships with those people that we would have otherwise never known. Meeting these people and learning their stories has made it all so worth it!

WELCOME TO VIAN, OKLAHOMA

WELCOME TO VIAN, OKLAHOMA

Let us introduce you to Vian, Oklahoma — a town rich in tradition, diversity, pride, and dreams. Having suffered two downtown fires, a new generation of entrepreneurs had visions of repurposing hundred-year-old buildings that have sat vacant for years. So with limited funds but unlimited passion, the revitalization process has begun! Nine new businesses have opened in the past five years!

EPISODE 48 // MICHELLE MYERS OF DIRT ROAD CANDLE CO.

EPISODE 48 // MICHELLE MYERS OF DIRT ROAD CANDLE CO.

We’re on the farm outside of Atlantic, Iowa with Michelle Myers of Dirt Road Candle Company for this week’s podcast. Michelle started a side hustle making soy candles - and with scents like Iowa Back Roads, Small Town Gossip, and County Fair - her business has quickly taken off. She’s sharing how she’s built her brand and business, and about her Iowa Farm girl roots and life on the farm.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: A MODERN DAY RAILROAD

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: A MODERN DAY RAILROAD

As I think about how to bring back our homecomers and attract new businesses and residents, I continually think about our internet problem. With better internet access, a community can attract self-employed and remote workers, creating more jobs without waiting for a major employer to move to town. A rural community with a low cost of living, quality schools, and reliable high-speed internet has a fantastic sales pitch for families tired of the city. But what about the rural community without decent, readily available internet access?

EPISODE 47 // ENTREPRENEURS COLIN & ERIN TAWNEY

EPISODE 47 // ENTREPRENEURS COLIN & ERIN TAWNEY

This week on the podcast we’re in Cimarron, New Mexico (pop. 1,021) with entrepreneurs Colin and Erin Tawney - and what happened to be a fortuitous stop on our road trip to California earlier this year. Colin and Erin are sharing what led them to bringing a bed and breakfast, brewery, and bike race to their historic town, plus all they’re doing to help bring economic development and positive change to the community. They are a great example of what it looks like to really seize the opportunities their small town has to offer.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: WORTHWHILE FOR FAMILIES

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: WORTHWHILE FOR FAMILIES

Homecomers aren’t likely to move “back home” to rural Montana or rural Texas (or wherever you’re reading this) in the family stage of life unless “home” is a good place for their kids. What are the schools like? How are the parks, libraries, and youth sports? What summer programs are offered in town when school is not in session? Can the kids do their homework and play games on the town’s internet?

EPISODE 46 // EMILY RIDDLE OF GATHERED LIVING

EPISODE 46 // EMILY RIDDLE OF GATHERED LIVING

This week on the podcast we’re in Versailles, Kentucky (pop. 9,292) with entrepreneur Emily Riddle. Emily and her husband have invested into their small town square by bringing in several new businesses, and in just a year and a half it has evolved into a vibrant, thriving destination that’s attracting young people — and most recently Hollywood — as the site for a Drew Barrymore movie set.

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: BRAIN DRAINS AND GAINS

ESSAYS FROM WEST OF 98: BRAIN DRAINS AND GAINS

Conventional wisdom says people don’t want to live in rural America, especially not young people. Polling and research indicates the exact opposite. People want to live in rural America if they can, but they need economic opportunities to either keep them in rural America or to draw them back. So how do we reverse that brain drain? How do we create “brain gain” by attracting our homecomers?

EPISODE 45 // PAIGE EHNLE OF NO ROOTS BOOTS

EPISODE 45 // PAIGE EHNLE OF NO ROOTS BOOTS

This week we’re in Metamora, Illinois (pop. 3,732) with Paige Ehnle of No Roots Boots. Paige has combined her passion for travel, meeting people, and high quality western and fashion boots into a boot store on wheels. She now road trips with her vintage Airstream to markets, fairs, festivals, concerts, and other events - selling her boots all over America. She’s sharing all about how she built her business and what she’s learned along the way.

EPISODE 44 // CASSIDY FISHER OF THE NORTHERN CRAFT

EPISODE 44 // CASSIDY FISHER OF THE NORTHERN CRAFT

We’re in Penn Valley, California this week on the podcast with fiber artist Cassidy Fisher of The Northern Craft. She’s sharing about how she turned her passion for art into a full-time profession, and how she uses inspiration from the beautiful things around her to create her collections. Plus, she’s dishing about her incredible experience at Magnolia’s Silobration and the impact that’s had on her business.

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