Times have changed, and we can change too

Central and North Burnett Times - - OPINION YOUR SAY - SAM TURNER sam.turner@cnbtimes.com.au

FOL­LOW­ING the Ru­ral Aid meet­ings in Gayn­dah and Monto at the week­end, small town spe­cial­ist Peter Kenyon em­pha­sised sev­eral im­por­tant things.

For one, things aren’t what they used to be.

In a con­ver­sa­tion ahead of his Monto event, he told me how he had held more than 200 events like these, and would see in­stances of neg­a­tiv­ity.

He would en­counter peo­ple who would ei­ther try to play the blame game or re­it­er­ate past fail­ures in cer­tain com­mu­nity projects.

Bring­ing neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes to such meet­ings would be counter-pro­duc­tive but was def­i­nitely un­der­stood.

Who could blame in­di­vid­u­als for be­ing annoyed at the cur­rent state of things in small ru­ral towns such as Gayn­dah and Monto?

Busi­ness clo­sures, youth depar­tures and a loss of pop­u­la­tion could bring down any proud cit­i­zen.

How­ever, once these events start, feel­ings of ag­gra­va­tion quickly turn into cu­rios­ity and con­fi­dence.

What if we could have im­proved sig­nage to the town?

What if we could cre­ate a com­mu­nity youth hub?

What if we could cre­ate the ul­ti­mate tourist strat­egy?

Both ses­sions in these North Bur­nett towns served as a type of cathar­sis, al­low­ing lo­cals to get their opin­ions out there and dis­cussed in a pub­lic space.

Mr Kenyon led the dis­cus­sions, pro­vid­ing insights, sto­ries, and sug­ges­tions through­out the evening.

Sim­ple so­lu­tions to bring not only tourists back into town, but past res­i­dents and peo­ple who were born here.

Towns in Ne­braska in Amer­ica have ex­per­i­mented with cre­at­ing huge high school re­unions for the past 30–40 years.

Such sug­ges­tions al­lowed these Amer­i­can towns to bring back lo­cals and show them the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able.

He was right, things aren’t what they used to be, and now it’s time to act.

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