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ISSN: 1936-0479

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Saving Small Towns: Reviving Smithen

By Matt Spurlock
Chapman High School

Imagine a typical small town. A town big enough so that only the neighbors know when someone new moves in, but small enough so all the kids know everyone in their grade. It is also a town where the community gathers on every Friday night in the fall to cheer on the high school football team and one that is slowly dying and seems to soon be a part of history.

This is the example of the town I have known and grown attached to my whole life; Smithen. Smithen is a town that is very small and doesn’t have a lot to keep people within the town. It has a fairly big high school, a clothing store, a bank, and other necessary businesses to scrape by. It has a couple of places to grab a quick pizza and other greasy foods. But it lacks big-name businesses and restaurants.

If I were a well-known and well-respected leader, I would make sure positive change took place for the future of my beloved town. And this passion is just the beginning.

Many factors are involved with people’s desire to reside in a town. One of the key factors is business. Business is a top priority in the process of reeling people into small towns. Like any other small town, Smithen is filled with plenty of the “Mom and Pop” types of businesses. These are not necessarily horrible for a small town, but they are also not the best for them. Oftentimes, the small businesses are focused on keeping that business within the family and unless a majority of newcomers to the town are directly related, not many jobs are going to be available.

The need for big businesses in a community shows in everyday life. The “mom and pop” businesses are not enough to draw people to the town.

The first thing I would do to make Smithen a desirable hometown would be to start multiple projects to build a variety of places to sit down and eat. They would be filled with high-quality food and would show a well-respected dining name its neon sign. Restaurants like these are needed in Smithen because it lacks good places to eat.

The first restaurant to be built will be an eating spot with traditional food, in this case a T.G.I Fridays, a place to get the community behind the future restaurants. The need for employees at T.G.I. Fridays would minutely increase the overall interest in the community, but it would be an increase nonetheless. People who are not used to Smithen who come to work at T.G.I. Fridays will get to see all the positive things it has to offer: small, but homey atmosphere, people who care about one another, and a great place to raise children or to settle into retirement. These repeated trips by the employees could plant a seed in their minds and lead them to become members of Smithen.

The finish of the first restaurant, with proper advertising, will increase overall business in our community. Once people are drawn to T.G.I. Fridays, they will start to notice the many smaller companies and realize the new sources for which they can buy supplies. This will lead to more money within Smithen and the building of more restaurants with a wider variety of foods.

With the restaurants, will come housing projects for the threat of an increase in people drawn to town. The housing will take up a minor amount of space. I do not want to take out any nature or park areas because I believe they are a big part any community. These nature areas increase the community’s physical activity and the time spent outdoors.

The new community members that come, due to the restaurants and housing, will bring their possessions and habits with them. These habits can be a positive or negative influence upon Smithen. Depending on how many people are drawn to our rebuilding community, the bad habits they bring can range in their severity and strongly affect the youth. The only non-violent way to make sure the negative habits don’t affect the overall mood of the community is to hold a meeting. This meeting is meant to thoroughly cover the impact of drugs, alcohol and abuse and should also show the effects of positive habits in a community. The best way to get through to the audience is to have an interactive presentation, not a lecture. Asking people’s opinions and making sure people know your ultimate goal is a great way to achieve that. Statistics will also be used to show the community what can happen when Smithen is portraying great habits to its youth.

The steps taken by the community and leaders of Smithen will make the path to become a desirable hometown shorter. There are only a few minor things yet to be done to ensure that more people will become interested in our town. A period of time must be observed before the next plan of action is to take place. A waiting period of approximately three months should be taken before Smithen should have another town meeting. The main subject of this meeting should be to declare some basic values within the community to follow as often as the townspeople can.

A group of leaders should meet prior to the town meeting to establish some values they deem necessary to have within a community. After this preliminary meeting, get the word out about the main meeting. Try to get as many community members at the meeting as possible. Upon the meeting date, tell of the values that are thought to be important within your community. Then have an open discussion with their reactions and if they believe anymore should be added. Also talk of ideas to portray these values to everyone in the community.

Smithen has begun to thrive, but it can very soon go back to the poor condition it once was in. Leaders and community members must hold others accountable and make sure everyone is staying on the right track. This is very important to keep up the new image of Smithen.

As a wise man once said, “Nothing that’s worth anything comes easy.” This is definitely true when it comes to making a hometown a desirable place to live. All it takes is a little passion and a lot of hard work to keep that town’s heart beating.

 

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Last Updated March 8, 2011
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