Monday, November 7, 2011

The PowerUp Movement

Things are changing in rural Kansas communities.

Access to telecommunication, schools, health care, and basic business services, including the postal system, are being threatened in numerous ways. Retaining the wealth from one generation to the next is another issue. There is a great deal of talk about depopulation and youth leaving rural communities.

We could make a longer list about the concerns and bemoan our plight. Or, we could look at all of this as a call to action and an opportunity to hit the refresh button, find our strengths, and create a New Rural.

One myth to be busted is that more young people than realized are staying or moving back to rural communities -- and doing it by choice. You usually hear about young people moving out as fast as they can but the quiet truth is that there are lots of young people wanting to be in these communities.

It just makes sense that a thriving community would have a nice mix of ages, including young families that are excited about being in a particular community as well as older people who have lived there most of their lives and have contributed in numerous ways to community life. Just like it takes a blend of ingredients to make a delicious entree, it also takes a blend of positive and thoughtful energy from PowerUps (21-39s who are rural by choice) and PowerOns (40+ are passionate about rural living) to create a community that is desirable to all.

PowerOns (40+ who are passionate about rural living), many of you have given an incredible amount of energy to volunteer efforts for the good of your town. Now, we need to be aware that to keep these activities going and to continue to shape the town as a desirable place to live, we have to open our ears to the PowerUps (21-39s who are rural by choice). Maybe we're a little scared that they'll just want to take over and that they won't even notice what we've been doing or the successes we've had. Will they want to just change everything? Put your fears aside and move forward with PowerUps!

I know many of you already are great role models and supports to young people. Do you know what that makes you? A reason why they should choose to live in your town.

PowerUps, it's likely that you have dreams for your self and your family and that you also see possibilities for the community, or things you'd like to see changed or added. We want you to love living in the rural community you've chosen and to be a positive force.

Maybe you'll come upon some older folks who don't know how to listen and it might seem like they want everything done their way. Treat them with respect and ask them questions about their lives, especially about when they were PowerUp age. Get to know each other. And, know this. Most PowerOns want to help you succeed. They realize that the community needs your ideas and efforts.


A community is like a family. And, that's what we are in a small community. The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that we need both PowerUps and PowerOns to willingly work together and support each other. And, then there are those Sparks nipping at our heels to get involved, too. The communities that will survive and thrive are those that will blend PowerUps and PowerOns together for a beneficial mix.


We've scheduled six meetings around the state in November so that PowerUps can come together and get used to talking about what they want out of their lives and what they need and would like to see in the community.

RSVP to would be appreciated.

NOVEMBER 14, 5:30 p.m.
St. Joe Store, 2801 Noble Road, downtown St. Joseph in Cloud County

NOVEMBER 14, 5:30 p.m.
City Hall, 616 S. Main, LaHarpe in Allen County

NOVEMBER 22, 5:30 p.m.
Community Center, 403 S. Main, Hudson (Stafford County)

NOVEMBER 29, 6 p.m. CT; 5 p.m. MT
City Hall, Elm Street and Wheeler, Coolidge (Hamilton County)

NOVEMBER 29, 5:30 p.m.
Prairie Junction Restaurant, 516 W. Main, Morland (Graham County)

NOVEMBER 30, 5:30 p.m.
Community Center, 901 Commercial, Havensville (Pottawatomie County)

PowerUp Liaisons, Liz Sosa from Garden City and Erika Nelson from Lucas, will be leading these conversations.

If you want Liz or Erika to help arrange a meeting in your town, let us know.

Every town has their own story of how the PowerUps and PowerOns get along. Some of you have probably figured it all out already so send your success stories and advice!

Thanks for listening. I’ll be writing more on this subject and would love to hear your thoughts.

Ask a PowerUp how they like living in your community and you'll “Get Kansas”!

KE #2 Marci Penner

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