“Small towns can do big things if they have passion“, “Time to “Bee-lieve” in our small communities!” and “Alvinston Community Group celebrates its successes at conference” are some of the headlines used in news stories about the Teeny Tiny Southwest Summit.
Held on November 15th, 2016, and hosted by the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston, OMAFRA, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, and Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, this event brought together 126 community volunteers, business champions, municipal staff and elected officials to hear ideas about revitalizing small communities.
Janan Dean, PhD, Project Coordinator of the forthcoming WelcometoSTE.com, attended the event and shares her key takeaways:
“Through my work coordinating the St. Thomas-Elgin immigration portal website, it has become clear that small communities are increasingly attractive places to live and work for newcomers and immigrants. At the Teeny Tiny Southwest Summit, I learned about opportunities and challenges facing small communities and shared how attracting newcomers can help address growing issues, such as population decline and skills gaps in the workforce, with members of local government and economic development.”
“Another important take away was the asset-based community development framework. Every presenter at the summit did a brilliant job of highlighting the unique features of their own community in a positive manner. I grew up in a large city nearby and I didn’t know this type of asset-based, grassroots community development still existed! I truly feel inspired and motivated to take this learning back to my own community to help us move forward.”
Some other takeaways captured from speakers during the day:
- “No idea is too crazy. We were successful because we didn’t know we couldn’t do it. We started with twelve people throwing $25 each in the hat. We used what we had in place.” Deb Thorn, Moose Jaw.
- “Never in my life did I believe something that started in my house (Christmas in October) would be all over town now.” Yvette Moore, Moose Jaw
- “Find good stories. Listen to dreams. Tell your stories using all the tools.” Katherine Sedgwick, Meanwhile, at the Manse.
- “Worked with local youth to help design the skateboard park. Supervised youth as they helped build their designs for the different types of jumps.” Helen Lomax, Alvinston Community Group.
Evaluation comments on the day included:
- “Nice to see the passion for small communities.”
- “Hearing success stories – how difficulties, barriers were overcome; how people thought of solutions – all inspiring!”
- “Very much a quality event!!!”
- “Connecting and relaxed atmosphere were wonderful.”
- “This is the BEST $50 I’ve spent on learning…forever!”