Talking it over: Qualities of a good community
What does it take to make a good community great? That is a good question but, more importantly, in rural areas, the question might be what does it take to simply make a community survive?
There have been a few studies on this issue and lots of different opinions. However, there are some basic qualities that help small towns survive and even grow.
There needs to be evidence of community pride. A successful community often showcases its history and heritage. This can be done through yearly festivals or special events during the year.
People in a small town are willing to invest in its future. Residents invest time, money and energy in community improvements, their school, parks and infrastructure. They look with pride on new things accomplished.
A strong community has a shared approach to decision making. Community members attend public meetings and give their opinion to the officials they have elected. Community leaders listen to the public and make decisions based on those opinions.
Good communities build on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. They don’t expect to land a giant industry but instead try to retain and maintain the ones they have. They take a realistic approach to competition and support the business and industry in the community.
A good community needs to have a deliberate transtion of power from one generation to the next. Older residents can serve on boards and committees along side younger residents. Each can learn from and listen to the other for the better of the community.
In this same light, women, minorities and other ethnic groups need to be included and supported in leadership roles, business opportunities and civic affairs.
Family and religion are important parts of the community. Activities need to focus on the family and needs of all generations and religious beliefs. Churches represent a strong force in the community as well as schools and service clubs.
Modern technology and looking at future needs is vital to a strong community. Progressive communities use modern technology to keep residents up to date and work hard to maintain and improve streets, sidewalks, parks and water and sewer systems.
If you recognize many of these traits when it comes to your community, then chances are you are living in a strong rural town. I can see that Hancock is working very hard to achieve most of these goals and that is reflected in many good things happening in this community and it’s surrounding area. The future of our communities is in our hands and we need to meet that challenge with committment and desire.