Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The start of something great

I'll keep this picture in my head for a long time. Meet the brainstorm team of Ashley Bogle (blue shirt), Greenwood Co. Economic Development; Julie Roller (black shirt), Development Associate of Pottawatomie Co. Economic Development; Abby Dechant (behind Julie), Wabaunsee Co. Economic Development and her intern Kayla.

We met at The Miracle Cafe in Reading, a town of 246 in Lyon County. It was an appropriate place to launch a big discussion.

Here was the question to ponder: What would happen if young people, ages 17-35ish, across rural Kansas united to address a number of issues including: jobs, technology, housing, social opportunities, and, mostly, making rural Kansas a desirable place for young people to live and work?

What would happen if those same young people figured out how to build their own network, organize their own agenda, and lead the way. What's different is that no one would be telling them how to make it work -- it would happen in their time, their way, and once the snowball got rolling they would be a force to deal with. I'm certain Rural Kansas will never look the same.

I had identified these three women as people who loved living in rural Kansas and were invested in rural communities being viable. They are women with intelligence, vision, creativity, and commitment to rural. I've been watching them for awhile and have been very impressed. There are others but these three already knew each other and got along well and it was easy to meet for lunch.

Within 24 hours, the ideas have been flying back and forth. I'm watching them become well aware of the potential for a statewide group (anchored by lots of smaller regional groups) and what they could accomplish. They clearly understand the work that needs to be done and in the course of these 24 hours they've easily mastered the notion that a gathering of young minds driven to make rural Kansas better can do exactly that.

I will do my best to guide when they ask for assistance or when they need a sounding board but my greatest role will be to stay out of their way and just observe and record what is about to happen. It is going to be great.


For awhile I've been asking for a "Power Up" contact and e-mail address from every rural town. If you know someone, or more than one, between the ages of 17-35, that wants to be associated with this young rural movement, send the information to me at I'll get these names to Abby, Ashley, Julie, and Kayla.

Today, I started a group page on Facebook called "Powering Up Rural Kansas." That will serve as the group name until another is chosen.

Young people, we're looking for you. If you love rural Kansas, send your name and e-mail address. Let's get going on this. There is much work to be done, much fun to be had, a New Rural to be formed.

These young people will help show us how to "Get Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner


Anonymous said...

Great idea - I think there was something similar for particular issues in the 90s (tobacco/drug abuse) but economic development is an ongoing issue. I know our young people have lots of great ideas on how to improve our state. They are tech-savvy and ready to go.

Frank Thompson, KE #3128 said...

Bravo! An encouraging development indeed.