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Building a Vibrant Community

Creating a Vibrant Community requires a community to change. What needs to be done to improve the odds for successful change? First realize that while facts and analysis are important – 80% of decisions are made with the heart versus 20% with the mind.

When connecting to the heart strings, a “Burning Platform” is important for engaging the community emotionally. The term comes from a burning ocean oil platform. People either jumped 15 stories into the water and hopefully survived or stayed on the platform and died. While not as dramatic, a community faces the same choice. People either jump into action and make improvements or watch the community slowly die. Throughout West Virginia and the nation there are communities which were once thriving and growing, but now are mere shadows of their previous lives. The time to act and be involved is now; not 20 years from now.

The Burning Platform is “Why? Why do we need to take action?” For example, why does one volunteer? The response is simple: “To create a better place — to encourage Education, to promote the Positive, to create Opportunities, and these are all for our Youth! Acting will improve businesses, expand charities, create jobs, and maximize youth potential.”

Sequencing events is another factor to increase the odds of success. Do not try to do everything at once. Keep the community involved and aware of projects. Be careful not to overestimate how well people understand the actions being taken. Take time to listen to many people to figure out how the community thinks and feels. Keep community projects small and doable. Don’t try to do too much at one time, because it’s too easy to get overwhelmed. A measured, deliberate approach is better.

Create and celebrate small wins to build community confidence and enthusiasm. The more wins, the more projects, and the willingness to take on bigger projects. Many small town wins add up to big wins.

Finally, be patient. Creating a Vibrant Community takes time. There are no quick fixes. Creating a Burning Platform, sequencing events, identifying doable projects, celebrating wins, and obtaining community confidence takes time. The results are worth the effort. Our youth will have a Vibrant Community to live, work, play and stay!

This outline is from Chapter Six of “Building a Vibrant Community: by Quint Studer. Compliments of Tygart Valley Orthopedics, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber has free copies of the book available to anyone who would like a copy.

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