Rural economic development practices are often applied under the same instances across all rural towns as it is believed that what will work for one rural town will work for the next. However, not all rural economic development practices work in smaller rural towns. I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 Teeny Tiny Town Summit on April 11th, 2019 in Orono, Ontario.
The day was spent learning from Peter Kenyon (a social capitalist and community enthusiast), development practitioners, and small business owners on economic development practices that work for small places. Kenyon promoted the ideology that individuals cannot develop communities from the top down or from the outside in. Rural development requires communities to build from the inside out, and for their members to invest themselves, ideas, assets and resources in the process. Teeny tiny towns therefore need to recognize that they must promote sustainability to and for the community by engaging individuals through casual conversations and not formal meetings.
By engaging individuals in the community, it will change their attitudes and show that their opinions and ideas are being valued. Attitude is more important than community size because it’s all about the mindset that people have that will lead their teeny tiny towns towards becoming more sustainable. Thus, the aim of the day was to inspire and motivate community leaders to spark their own ideas and invest in themselves and the unique circumstances of their community and its inhabitants to build a sustainable future for their teeny tiny town. For more information on the Teeny Tiny Town Summit visit: http://www.teenytinysummit.com.
Sarah Parish is a Master of Science in Rural Planning and Development student. Sarah’s thesis research focuses on agritourism diversification in North Durham, Ontario. Further details about Sarah’s thesis research can be found at www.ruraldev.ca/agritourism/.