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Building a Vibrant Community

Change requires small wins and obtaining the involvement of several in the community. However, this is not enough. Old thinking patterns must be broken. Someone once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again – and expecting different results.

Elkins has the potential to be more than anyone ever originally thought. To get momentum as a community, we need to identify what can be improved and explain why. Without an explanation of why, the attitude will prevail that everything is fine as we are — which is the stumbling block to progress.

Often people are hesitant to take action because not everything is perfectly aligned. Perfection can be the enemy of good. Waiting for everything to be perfectly planned will lead to nothing being done.

Community momentum is created when action is taken and there is communication about the action. Keep everyone informed of the details from the beginning of a project though its completion. Some project will be completed, some will shift directions, and some will fail. Constant communication tracks a project though every phase. There should be no surprises at the end of a project.

It is foolish to believe that every project will have complete community support. There are many different views as to the common goals for a community. When dealing with differences, there are four rules: (1) Be impeccable with your word. (2) Don’t take anything personally, (3) Don’t make assumptions, (4) Always do your best. These rules will help keep us civil and keep relationships healthy.

Once a project begins, stay focused on a few specific overall goals. It is easy to get sidetracked and/or get too far down into the weeks. Constantly remind people of the goals, the purpose of the project and the status.

No matter what is done, some will attack a project, especially on social media. Keeping the momentum means not reacting to everything. It is better to save the resources to work on the positive aspects of a project.

Community pride is key to keeping the momentum going. Are citizens positive? Do they say good things about the community? Successful projects create positive news and positives attitudes. A positive attitude is contagious.

In order to sustain momentum – never declare victory. The effort to create a vibrant community is never done. Having a place where people want to live, work, play and stay requires constant effort.

This outline is from Chapter Eight 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 those who are interested.

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