Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Pump House Plan

Aren't these old-fashioned filling stations a wonderful nostalgic reminder of the early auto days? You can still see these vestiges in a majority of rural communities in the state. A few are used for some kind of active business but most are abandoned or used for storage.

They're so cute and charming. Don't you think?

For now, let's give them the name of Pump House. In the old days there were gas pumps out in front of these buildings. Now days? Well, we need a place to pump up the community and visitors.

Look at the two pictures again and imagine paint, landscaping, benches, fix up, and an attractive and consistent Pump House and Welcome sign. Each one would look like mission control inside with computers, maps, printers, GPS units, binoculars, and all sorts of technical doo dads and visual aids. This is where Explorer visitors would come to get the skinny on a town and where locals would come to get all sorts of community-wide communication.

Instead of a chamber office, you have the Pump House.

A quick side note. An alternative to a volunteer-led chamber model is the 8-98 Plan. Imagine that every able-bodied person in a small town between the ages of 8-98 would take some kind of "class" to learn how to become a positive contributor to the community. Every body has skills and personality that can lend themselves to a healthy community. Elsie could hem pants for a young man going off to an interview. Elmer could fix Christy's mower that has a minor problem. Heather and Jonesy could plan the parade. Amanda and the other cheerleaders could help Mackenzie and Zach and other young kids decorate their bikes for the parade. George's civic group could help paint Susie's house. The result of the 8-98 plan is the whole community working together to help itself be the best it can be.

Back to the Pump House. Though there should be community-wide electronic communication, the Pump House would be the physical location for all sorts of 8-98 interactions, deal making, and visitor hospitality.

I don't have a name yet for the person in charge of the Pump House but this could be a relatively high-paying job for a 20-30 something young person. All sorts of help would be needed at the community and visitor Pump House. It would pump up the town and the visitors!

Visitors would just know to look for that cute little ol' filling station.

Corporations, alumni, and citizens would make contributions to the development of the Pump House through a designated fund in the community foundation. Locals would take it from there. There would be statewide criteria and standards so visitors and community folks could expect excellence and function.

Rural communities aren't getting ready to die. They're getting ready to live and be viable.

What do you think? Can we make this happen? Who wants to be first?

The two filling stations above are located in Palmer in Washington County.

Get involved to "Get Rural Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner

P.S. All we need to start making this and other Transformational Ideas get kicked into high gear, is some financial backing. Interested and able? Contact marci@kansassampler.org.


Connie - KE #81 said...

Bring me a Pumphouse and Lucas will be first!
Of all the things that we have we don't have one of those.
Great idea though!

Jenni said...

These are both great ideas! Unfortunately, Douglass does not have one of those nifty pumphouses. Do you have an alternative in mind for those towns that don't?

BTW, Connie, Lucas is a fabulous small town! Such creative, interesting people there!

Unknown said...

Great Plan, Marci! Surely there are a number of communities that have a person with the imagination, creativity, and initiative to make an idea like this work. Lacking a Pump House, there must be an unused house, barn, or business building that would serve the purpose. What a benefit that could be to a community! I hope to hear some follow-up on this some day.

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