I was just in a diversity training this afternoon, where participants were told to "be brave" when it comes to bringing about understanding. So here goes...in this week alone, I have bumped into stereotypes about rural communities that have made me shake my head, get over my frustration and finally laugh a little about it.
A couple of them came, ironically, in a meeting about rural communities and how ABCD applies. It is my hope that those of us who actually live or have lived in the rural community can help break down these misconceptions about those of us who live and work in the rural community.
One was about the "rural community coffee shop c.a.v.e" "Complaining about virtually everything." While that talk does take place (I know these guys at the local coffee shop personally), I would bet that doesn't ONLY happen in RURAL coffee shops nor in EVERY coffee shop. It's really rather entertaining to join them once in awhile. City-slickers always welcome.
"Getting resources to the rural community..." We already have resources in the rural community...even communities that are in the cornfields! Yep! It's true. It's great if people want to come alongside rural communities that are SEEKING resources, but I am reminded of a woman who showed up at our County interagency meeting from a larger city in a neighboring county. She came to bring her resources because we were "really lacking" and she proceeded to name off what she thought we were lacking that she could provide. For every "resource" she could provide, there was at least one (and sometimes more than one) organization at the table that provides what she thought we were lacking. She is still trying to "fix" us about 2 years later and cannot understand why people here are still using the resources that have been here all along.
Just today, a news article came out about a movie being filmed in Fort Wayne, just down the road from where I sit right now. The line producer, Ryan Binse, who is from LA, made several paragraphs of comments about how surprised he was about how friendly, clean and modern the Midwest is! He said, "In Los Angeles, everyone has this idea of the Midwest being slow or boring, but this place is modern, it's clean, people are nice." "I love it here so far. The crew, the cast, we've all been talking about how, wow, this place is not what we were thinking. This is great." "People say hi to me on the sidewalk. I'm like, oh that's so cool! And then the food is beyond amazing." Seems he's also thrilled with his hotel room that overlooks the stadium so that he was able to watch part of a minor league game...from his hotel room! What?! It wasn't being played in a cornfield with a stick?? Who knew? I'm like, wow, that's amazing!! Mr Binse...just so you know...we do have soap, pretty much any food you want...it's actually grown here...and we even have the internet! Boy would I like to take him to where I grew up in Wilmot, population 30 and I grew up in the suburbs...aka...the swamp. To give the guy his due...I think he was trying to be nice. (Kudos to Reporter Corinne Rose ABC WPTA21...yes, it's really ABC!!)
There's a little fun, here , but in all seriousness, one of the things I love about ABCD is that we come alongside people and places who are already at work and/or who have a capacity to share but maybe just need a boost or an opportunity. We just open the doors when needed and we never take credit for their work. We are not saviors but companions on a journey and ABCD never forces itself into that journey.