Take PRIDE, groups told

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February 25, 2010 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — Communities worried about the scarcity of resources need look no further for inspiration than the children’s book “Stone Soup.”
The story was detailed Wednesday evening by Trudy Rice in front of PRIDE committee members from LaHarpe, Humboldt and Moran.
In the story, Rice detailed a group of travelers are unable to get anyone in a local village to give them food so they instead fix up a pot of simmering water and a single stone.
As the villagers pass by and inquire about the unusual concoction, they’re told that it’s stone soup, which tastes wonderful but is missing a few key ingredients.
That, in turn, convinces the townsfolk to contribute to the cause, said Rice, who works out of the Kansas State University Research and Extension office.
The book offers two key lessons, Rice said: we can all work together and end up better off; and more folks are inclined to chip in and help if they’re given the impression that they, too, can be a part of a successful venture.

WITH EACH OF the three PRIDE groups in roughly the same circumstances — they all are looking to establish a secure foundation in their respective communities — Rice and Barbara Chalker, a Moran native now working with the Kansas Department of Commerce, used Wednesday’s meeting to explain what comes next.
Rice focused on a number of elements required of a healthy community, pointing out how each of the three PRIDE groups already have assets on which to capitalize.
Humboldt, for example, can tout its natural capital; that is, its recreation areas near the Neosho River; LaHarpe exercised its political capital in working with USD 257 to secure the old LaHarpe Elementary School building; and Moran can point to recent development of the Back 40, a newly built thrift store, as a sign of progress, Rice said.
And all three can look at other resources, she said, such as their cultural capital (drawing in people of all ages) and financial capital (seeking grants and other funding mechanisms with the assistance of Thrive Allen County).

RICE SPELLED out a number of necessities for each PRIDE group to become successful.
All should embark on a community improvement assessment to identify current needs, develop a shared vision, create goals and projects, develop and implement action plans and finally to celebrate success, Rice said.
She cited a number of success stories with other Kansas communities.
Herndon, for example, saw its high school close 10 years ago, Rice said. That local PRIDE group eventually organized monthly dances as a way to get the community to gather as a whole as it had previously for its high school football games. The group also organized other social events, such as July 4 celebrations.
Alton, meanwhile, created an attractive wayfinding sign to encourage passersby to stop in, while Lenora built a library and community center and Lucas eventually constructed an arts center for the community.
Therein lies the key for the Allen County groups, Rice said. They must complete an honest and complete assessment of their communities’ needs, then determine realistic, yet ambitious goals to meet those needs.
Rice also spoke about keys for a successful board of directors in each community.
An effective board keeps at the forefront its “big picture” thinking and does not get too wrapped up in minutiae; it maintains a keen sense of priorities (which is obtained from its community assessments); it thinks before it acts and values teamwork; and it constantly evaluates itself in order to continue improving.
Rice also urged those in attendance to continue to reach out to new members, particularly newcomers to the community. There’s no reason activities be handled only by folks who have been living in town for years.

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