Internal and External Views of a Community
Posted: June 26, 2015
After a recent trip, I was thinking about how people regard what their community has to offer. It’s not uncommon when one is on a vacation or trip and conversing with local residents to hear the question - why would you want to come here?
Thinking about this question from the standpoint of community and economic development can have a lot of applications. There can be many plans, policies and actions that address economic development, tourism and community growth. There can be mission and vision statements, goals and objectives as well as action steps. All of these things are important, but how well do they answer the fundamental question - why would anyone want to come to your community? How have you made, or plan to make your community unique and attractive? How does the thought of a trip to your community give an expectation of and then deliver a stand out experience that draws upon local resources, people, culture, products and skills?
Another aspect of conversations between visitors and local residents often relate to perspectives. From the traveler’s perspective, there can be many reasons for their visit, including parks, waterways, exhibits, shops and landmarks. Sometimes residents will acknowledge that such local items are attractions, but they are not necessarily viewed as such by someone who has lived there all their life. This raises an issue relative to community amenities that are touted as a draw for visitors.
Consideration should be given to utilizing local resources and other features in new and exciting ways to keep the interest of and provide enjoyment for local residents. This could in part include infusing community activities and forums as well as guest speakers or performers. It also could include volunteer opportunities for local residents to share their knowledge and skills.