Times have changed, and we can change too
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.