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Saturday, August 21, 2010

VITALITY FOUND IN SMALL TOWN --Sunday Simplicities

FIDDLER AT THE CELTIC
FESTIVAL
I have written about the struggles that small towns have faced  trying to realize a viable commercial/retail main street. They face tough odds as box stores proliferate at the edges of their old commercial centers or perhaps businesses just up and leave altogether requiring a drive of several miles to buy even a common light bulb or similar small items. 

However, some small towns have found the magic key to staying alive and viable. One such town is Berea, Kentucky -- it 
has been able to maintain an energetic economy while retaining its old commercial centers. My photos in this post show some examples of attributes.


LANDSCAPE PODS ALONG MAIN STREET
After I took early retirement, I worked at different short term positions. One was helping small towns revitalize. I offered grant and historic preservation consulting. Working with these towns made me aware of the problems they were trying to head off. It seemed a no-win situation at times. I learned as much from the people of these towns as they learned from me. 


WELL MAINTAINED BUILDINGS
 ALONG WITH VIBRANT
 PLANT CONTAINERS ALONG
 MAIN STREET
What does Berea do that keeps the energy flowing, I'll mention what I have observed as a visitor to the town. They do have a few things in place that certainly helps the town stem the tide of gloom and doom of other small towns. One, they have Berea College, a nationally known liberal small college.Two, they established the area as a recognized arts community. Three, they maintain their physical assets such as commercial buildings, parking and streets. And four, they bring to the town on a very regular basis, lecturers, music, festivals, and other events that encourage citizen participation as well as tourists.


FULL TIME STAFFING
 TO MAINTAIN
 STREET PLANTINGS




Granted, not all small towns have the money or organization to bring their towns back from obscurity but perhaps taking it step by step in the right direction  can result in  being a viable town for the community. 




INVITING BACK SIDES OF
COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS












Small town revitalization is a large issue that cannot be addressed in this small post but I believe it can be done over time with active town citizens




8 comments:

  1. Restoration and preservation are subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I'm told my gg grandfather was a fiddler. I'd love to know what tunes he played.

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  2. Marshall, NC -- the small town nearest us --- is in the midst of some exciting revitalization which has slowed a bit due to the economy. We've been here long enough (35 years) to see the town wane and almost die and now begin a comeback with a new direction.

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  3. This was a most interesting post, Barbara. I especially enjoyed the photo and title of the "backsides" of the buildings, along with the circular, brick "patio" which is so inviting, along with the decorative plants and very, very attractive back entrances. Still, even with facilities, it takes the work of many concerned and dedicated citizens to evolve to the level of caring and work ethic which has produced such an environment where small businesses flourish without rancor. It takes "pulling together" rather than fighting over a shrinking pie.

    Elora

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  4. willow, wonderful that you are very interested in restoration and preservation. I believe that you live in Ohio which, as you know, is full of wonderful small historic towns. I used to get off HWY 75 and ride the backroads -- what great small towns there were to investigate if one had time.

    Thanks for your comment -- barbara

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  5. Vicki -- your example of your nearby town is interesting. To see it wane and die and then experience a comeback it great. There is hope for towns that are the skids. -- barbara

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  6. Elora -- yes, I know all too well the in-fighting that can stall a town's climb out of oblivion. Different factions and different agendas require strong leadership and not every small town has this. But there is always the possibility that someone will step forward and help turn the town around.

    I've seen a lot of money pumped into commercial areas and still not get on the right track -- yes it does take a pulling together to get the job done. Thanks -- barbara

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  7. The small town of Dunolly (pop.750), the one I've just started a blog about, is a great example of a country town that's managing to keep the flow happening, could very easily have just disappeared :)

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  8. Jayne -- I will have to check out your blog to see Donolly. It has an Irish sounding name. Thanks for the comment -- I appreciate it -- barbara

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