I know growing up in a small town and a farming community has helped me exponentially in life, from work ethic to common knowledge and motivation to go out and accomplish something I want to achieve. I think all kids should have to spend a summer working harvest or stretching miles of fence. It seems to give people a different level of respect for the things that you have to work for in life. I want my children in the future to know the value of hard work and a handshake...I want them to grow up in a community like this.
This week on the podcast we’re in Harrington, Washington (pop. 424) with Justin and Heather Slack of The Post & Office — a local coffee shop and co-working space. As self-described ‘accidental business owners,’ Justin and Heather are sharing about their quick move to Harrington and the adventures that have followed — from opening up new businesses to Justin’s new role as mayor. Plus, you’ll appreciate the perspective they gained from their time spent living in a big city, and the ‘why’ behind everything they’re doing: to bring the community together.
We spend a lot of time in our life being “busy.” We are busy, we tell others we’re busy, we ask them how busy they are. Americans glorify being busy as if it’s a good thing, because we see “busy” as a sign of success and prosperity. People ask how we’re doing, how work is, how the kids are. We say we are busy as if it is a badge of honor. But is it?
This week we’re in Harrison, Montana (pop. 137) with Nikki Edmundson of Canty Boots. Nikki’s sharing how a custom pair of boots she made for herself turned into an international business. You’ll love Nikki’s perseverance as a business owner - from establishing her trademark to pursuing the stores she knew were the right fit for her product. She’s also sharing about her new store that opened this summer and life as a working mom.
There’s always that one building. So many towns have them. It stands out like a sore thumb. It might be the tallest building in the community. Maybe it’s the square footage. Maybe it’s the location. It’s vacant. It has been vacant for decades. When someone comes to town, they immediately notice THAT building. Even as other buildings around town are restored, that one building still stands out. It feels like an albatross on the community’s revitalization. If a building could talk, it seems like the building is saying “good work on those other buildings, but you still haven’t restored ME.” YET.
For the past nine months I’ve made my home base in the quaint town of Adel, Iowa. The original goal was to continue to split my time between Franklin, Tennessee and Iowa. But let’s be honest. Rent is expensive, especially in the Nashville area right now. And, after two years of living in Nashville and 19 years of living in the city, I felt the pull to go back to my small town roots and live the life I was sharing with the world through Rural Revival. So in a very quick turn of events, I found a loft on a town square in a small town, above a retail shop, in a place where I already have friends, and it seemed like the right fit.
This week we’re in Chugwater, Wyoming (pop. 212) with Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead. After growing up in the suburbs, Jill and her husband Christian knew they wanted a life in the country. So they went all in and started building what we now know as The Prairie Homestead — and pioneering the way for today’s homestead movement. Jill’s sharing all about her life as a homesteader, what she has learned as this brand and business has grown and expanded, and how, as someone who didn’t love cooking, she ended up with a cookbook. You’ll love Jill’s passion and intentionality, and how it shows in everything she’s doing.
Our rural communities have vacant buildings and that’s just reality. You can take it as a negative or you can see it as...opportunity. There are major cities all over the country that are booming, but struggling with a lack of available, affordable real estate (both commercial and residential). With low cost of living, low land prices, and a surplus of vacant buildings, the problem in our rural communities, if presented to the right people, might actually be a solution to someone else’s problems.
This week we’re in Belleville, Kansas (pop. 1,991) with Dan Douglas of Belleville Hometown Lumber. Dan is sharing about his unlikely path as an entrepreneur, and how he was able to come back to his hometown and open a business. We touch on community over competition, what it means to bring jobs to his hometown, and how their business growth is having an impact beyond their community.
My very first essay, written way back in November of 2017, was entitled “On Vacant Buildings and Vacant People.” It was inspired by a national sportswriter’s visit to Stamford, in which the author noted Stamford’s vacant buildings. However, he also noted something more important, something that captivated him—its people. The people themselves were far from “vacant.” The author found good, hardworking people who support their community and its youth.
This week on the podcast we’re in Fairfax, Oklahoma (pop. 1,380) with Emily Myers of Lantana Made. Emily is a ranch wife and mom who crafts western handmade bags out of her home on the ranch. From an internship at the Fort Worth Stockyards to a job at Miranda Lambert’s Pink Pistol store, she’s sharing about the journey that led to Lantana Made. Since starting her business she’s put her own mark on the western fashion world and she’s telling us all about it.