Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2 Steps in Rural Development

Yesterday I had the chance to hear Jeff Yost, Founder and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation, talk about issues in rural development.  He focused mainly on grass roots initiatives and detailed how NCF is working to enable and help communities build a more sustainable infrastructure.

One point that I thought was particularly interesting was when he began to analyze the beginning steps in community building.  There is no doubt that many smaller Nebraskan communities will benefit from working with surrounding communities when it comes to larger more complex projects.  The first step he called "bonding capital."  Before a community can begin to work with other communities, or even start projects on their own, they must first take a look at who they are and where they are.  The community must first look at what their own strengths and weakness are, what they do well and what they might benefit from collaborating and working with surrounding communities.

The second step would be to build "bridging capital."  This involves working with surrounding communities and understanding what they do well and might offer your community, as well as, what their needs are and whether you are in a position to help them adequately address their needs.

This two-step process struck me as fairly simple but often overlooked.  It is always a good idea to stop and take inventory of your own situation before you begin to accept help or try to offer help to others.  Once a community sits down and really contemplates their own situation they are in a much better place to access what they need from other communities.

This process also helps the State address issues in rural communities because these communities will know exactly what they want and need rather than having the State address what they think the community will benefit from.  This will in turn lead to a better allocation of public funds and a stronger sense of community in some of these places where that has begun to die out.

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