Most of us knew when the census was conducted this past year, the news would not be the best. It’s evident in some of our communities the population had decreased with decreasing school enrollment and vacant homes.
When I talked with Hillsboro Administrator Larry Paine and Ramona Mayor Pat Wick, they said success has to be planned. Hillsboro has loaded their front line with ambassadors who are familiar with the community. Ramona has had a two-woman force when the whirlwinds from California came to town 10 years ago and began a campaign to save Ramona.
Both ploys have worked.
We look around our communities and have to ask the questions: Why would someone want to move here? What would keep people from moving away?
Availability of quality housing, quality schools, and quality services are three big reasons to live in or near a community. There also has to be a sense of unity with residents working toward common goals and the feeling of belonging.
Have we extended the welcome mat to those interested in our communities? And when they moved here, have we invite them into our homes, have we gotten them involved in community activities, and made them feel they were an important part of this town?
Even small towns suffer from the technical distancing caused by cell phones and the Internet. There are no more trips next door to borrow a cup of sugar. Some may not even know the names of their neighbors. We’re too busy to visit or to get to know each other.
Until we realize that most people move to small communities — such as the ones in Marion County — to become involved, we’re not going to see growth. People may move in but they won’t stay if they don’t feel a part of the community.
The only way our communities will survive will be too roll out the welcome mat to new residents and engage them in activities.
If we don’t do this soon, we will see more dramatic decreases and not just in population.
— susan berg