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Rural Community Builders: Who do you have time for?

Mary Doyle
Mar 22, 2018 · 3 min read

My grandmother had an expression that she used to communicate her approval of a person. She used to say, “I’ve got a lot of time for them.” I never thought much about it until recently but it’s a perfect expression. There really is nothing more valuable than your time and attention. My grandmother knew that and she was judicious in how she doled it out.

Today, we have the same limited number of hours in a week and many competing interests. How many hours do we thoughtlessly give away? There are people who are worth our time and attention and people who are not. It’s TIME that rural community builders made a list.

Here’s mine:

I’ve got a lot of time for

The Doers

These are the people who are leading from the ground. Every community has these leaders. They have a clear vision and are working selflessly without budgets and without unlimited resources to make things happen. They do it because it’s important. Find these people in your community and get behind them. Support their efforts. Give them your time and attention. They can become exhausted and disillusioned but they always come back because they care about their communities and they see another way forward.

The Entrepreneurs

Our future depends on new ideas. We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results — some consider that to be the definition of insanity. Rural communities have to become prolific opportunity identifiers and our entrepreneurs are showing us the way.

New Residents

In rural communities we still have a terrible reputation for separating ourselves from new people who relocate to our towns. The truth is that they have moved here because they WANT to be here. Yes, they probably come with new ideas and want to get involved in their new communities. Give them your time and attention. Listen to their ideas and be thankful for their contribution. I’ve spoken with people who have said that even residents who have lived in a community for 15 years are still seen as outsiders. No more outsiders. If they choose to be here they are insiders.

Neighbouring Communities

Regardless of the posturing and positioning that happens between neighbouring communities, the reality is that we are undeniably interdependent, which is both our strength and our weakness. We are all strong when we work together. Cooperation NOT competition is going to save our towns. When we cut ourselves off from one another we are all in jeopardy.

Our Youth

They are not living Rural on Purpose. They are the only age group that truly has no choice. One day they will have a choice — the choice to leave — and the choice to come back. Give them a reason to come back. Find ways to get them involved — listen to them — support them — empower them. Just don’t ignore them, and don’t assume that because they can’t vote that their perspective is unimportant; if you haven’t been paying attention, they are voting with their feet.

I’ve got very little time for


The naysayers…the “no” people…the negative nellies. These are the people in our communities who doubt and question everything with the intention of derailing a new initiative. I have a friend who told me that she has a rule in her house that complaints aren’t allowed without offering two possible solutions. This prevents complaining for the sake of complaining and opens up a productive dialogue around problems that need solving. Solution oriented discussion should be the only time you give to people with complaints. Otherwise, you are simply watering rocks.

Living Rural on Purpose means living with intention. For me that also means being disciplined about how I spend my time and where I focus my attention.

Who do you have time for?

Are you living Rural on Purpose?

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