Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, January 05, 2007

#7 Reason Community Development is Hard to Do

7. Negative Attitudes

-- editors note, this is the seventh is a top ten list of reasons why rural community development is hard to do by Michael Holton that ran in the December 2006 Center for Rural Affairs newsletter... john

It easier to be an art critic than it is to be an artist. In small rural community development, we all know what we will hear from many of the residents of a town. It is nearly always negative and destructive.

I often say in meetings in small rural communities that I can find out everything that is wrong with the community in one hour at the local coffee shop. It takes me much longer to get people to talk about what is good about their community.

We need to focus on positive contributions of the community and its people to the world as we know it. Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is an approach that works well in identifying positive attributes of our communities and starts the conversation in a positive direction. We will discuss this concept and practice later.

Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Micheal, you really have to try haning out in some different communities. Most rural communities that I have been in are not nearly as bad as you have described them in this top ten list.

  • At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In my previous post, I meant to say, "Michael, you really have to try hanging out in some different communities." Hanging, instead of "haning" whatever that is.

    Also, I meant that rural communities, in my experience, are not nearly as NEGATIVE as Mr. Holton has described in this discussion. I used the word bad instead of negative - I know that Mr. Holton would never say that rural communities, even negative ones, are bad.

  • At 12:58 AM, Blogger Michael L. Holton said…

    You are right in that most small communities as a whole are not negative. Individuals may drag on some of the negativity but I work in 20+ communities directly and I can tell you that I would live in any one of them as compared to urban life, which I do not care to return to. I will say that this list represents what you may run in to. Community development is a tricky thing to accomplish and negativity adds to the problem.

  • At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOL, Michael, are you saying the people on this list are difficult? Or negative? I'm laughing, not because of what you said but because it seems very true to me. The people that read this blog have been critical at times, challenging at times, and even perhaps at difficult at times. And I'd venture a guess that Michael is absolutely right, the discussions on this list are likely a good representation of what we all face in our communities. But there have been a lot of valuable ideas and issues raised here too. Thank you one and all.

  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    Just to let everyone know in advance, Rural McCook, a participant on this blog, and I have done some research on a thread from an earlier post and I will be posting it soon. The topic will be telecommuting and state or private initiatives to utilize rural telecommuters. thank you, john

  • At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Michael, I'm not saying your wrong, but whenever I visit a rural community I starting hearing all about what makes that community worth saving (or fighting for) in about 2 minutes. I know that is different from the things that people say to you - a person can talk about both what is wrong with a community and what makes it worth saving and not be in conflict. I think that even a lot of the "negative" people see that there is something special about their commmunity, something worth keeping and enhancing.

  • At 12:32 AM, Blogger Michael L. Holton said…

    I find this dialogue interesting and intriguing as an earlier post stated it can be polarized quickly. I think the easiest solution to any of the posts I have out would be to say if the shoe fits, then you may be the wearer. On the other hand, you may be uniquely qualified in your community to start asset-based development rather than negative tear down. By reading the posts on this blog, you are the ones that can change rural America. As the book, Tipping Point, challenges us to take the small steps to create a movement, we must also take the initiative to stop others from destroying the very fabric that I am writing about. Keep the blogs coming!


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