ord sunshine pumpers

life in rural nebraska

Positive Change and Young People

with 3 comments


Brain drain is a dead horse that seemingly gets beat about this time every year when the Legislature is in session and *shocking* Census numbers declare small towns are dying.

From my experience,  that isn’t the reality at all.  Yes, some small rural communities are dying.  Its a hard truth that we need to get more comfortable with when baby boomers start reaching the end of their lives.  I’ve been in Nebraska communities where there’s nary a young soul found, nor a reason to be there.

Time and again, however,  I get a chance to visit those that are thriving.  The formula for this success varies by each community, but you can boil it down to one overriding theme:  positive change.  Positive change grows from a concept in positive psychology –  how strength and virtue enable individuals and communities to thrive.  You can read more on positive psych here and here.

Positive psychology affects communities (more specifically economic development) because the process inverts the old idea that in order to grow we must identify our needs and address them.  Rather, we identify our positive assets – the things that make the community great –  and grow and develop those assets into more tangible endeavors that improve our quality of life.  Positive change is what comes of those efforts: measurable change by making the assets of a community better.

As we kick off new marketing campaigns in March, we’ll be reaching out to you, the community, to contribute in our efforts.  Your content and your ideas will be the material we use to celebrate the community that we have.  This has been a staple in past projects and we’ll continue to focus on these as part of our overall future efforts.

If you think I’m ignoring many of the negative aspects of our community, you’d be right.  I don’t see a reason to focus on deficiencies that fail to add value to the future of our community, just as negativity doesn’t add quality to an individual’s life.

I am mindful of the real world and how terrible it can be, of the negative things in life that don’t play out fair.  I still don’t see a reason, however, to spend your day thinking of what’s wrong with everything when you have in your capacity the ability to contribute positively to change.

George Ayoub of the Grand Island Independent added a critical comment that touched on this idea in an article about honoring young professionals in the community (my emphasis added):

The chamber’s recognition of “35 Under 35” changes the brain drain conversation, however. We need to continue to recruit and urge and beg and plead with young professionals to give us a try, but we also need to nurture and appreciate and challenge them once they arrive.

Communities turn over and regenerate because young people choose to live there. Without a constant source of new energy, ideas, creativity and progress, towns wither and die. Some simply wither for many long, discouraging years.

If we’re going to move this community forward, our emphasis on making this a community of new energy and new ideas *centers* around positive change.  Young people want, crave even, communities that harness this energy and put it into action.

Join us in March as we kick the effort off.

Written by Caleb

February 26, 2009 at 10:16 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] of life, rather than the negative.  Not only does it build you up and those around you, but positivity has real life outcomes on your health, your community and your relationships to […]

  2. […] a comment » I posted an entry about 6 mos. ago that looked at institutional community positivity as the main indicator of community vitality.  In […]

  3. […] is and will continue to be a leader in rural opportunities because of one simple phenomenon:  positive change.  We’ve written about the impact of positive change here, here and here.  The infectious […]

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