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  • Stacie Schmidt

XIII Ways.... You are Hurting Your Community (Cont'd)

If you are not familiar with the amazing book authored by Canadian and rural advocate Doug Griffiths entitled 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, I highly recommend it! In this book, Doug takes a comedic approach to the ways that communities and their residents impede themselves, often unintentionally or without nefarious intent. I love this book, so I have been considering how those ways might align or differ in our community and in today's difficult economy. We started with I. Don't Get Engaged, Involved, or Informed. Now let's move on to II. Spread Gossip.

Gossip: The Silent Killer of Community Projects and Businesses

Welcome to Any Small Town USA, where the latest buzz spreads faster than a wildfire in a drought! Ellsworth County certainly does not have the rights to this phenomenon, but social media has made gossip blow up faster than the speed of light! Yes, it's charming and it goes with the territory of small towns. But sometimes, our penchant for chatter can backfire spectacularly. Let’s talk about the sneaky saboteur among us: gossip.

The Domino Effect of a Whisper

Imagine this: Bob’s Burgers, the beloved local diner, is planning a massive renovation to add a patio for summer dining. The project is all set, the permits are approved, and then...Gossip Greta steps in. She hears a half-baked rumor that Bob is actually adding a petting zoo with wild alpacas (I know, right?). Greta tells Mabel, who tells John, who tells the entire coffee club. Soon, the town is convinced that the health department will shut Bob’s Burgers down because of the imaginary alpaca infestation.

The Gossip Effect

Gossip, my dear friends, can derail the best-laid plans. Here’s why:

  • Misinformation: False information spreads faster than the flu in kindergarten. People make decisions based on what they hear, not on facts.

  • Fear and Panic: Unfounded rumors can create unnecessary panic. If folks think the new street project is going to cut off water supply for a month (spoiler: it’s not), they might start stockpiling bottled water like it’s the apocalypse.

  • Erosion of Trust: Businesses thrive on trust. When gossip undermines this trust, it’s like throwing sand in the gears of a well-oiled machine. Bob might lose customers who believe he’s secretly harboring alpacas in his kitchen.

The Real Cost

Let's take a moment to think about the real impact on our town. Businesses like Bob’s Burgers, Mitzi’s Bookstore, and even our beloved library rely on community support. These establishments pay for the very streets we drive on, the gutters that keep our town tidy, and the amenities we enjoy. When gossip hurts these businesses, it’s not just the owners who suffer. We all do.

The Better Way

So, what’s the solution? How can we stop gossip from gnawing at the roots of our community projects and businesses? Here are a few tips:

  • Verify Before You Amplify: Before passing on that juicy tidbit, ask yourself if it’s true. Better yet, check with the source. Oh, and if you've been given information in confidence, keep it. It's not your story to tell and could squash a very positive transition.

  • Promote Transparency: Businesses and local projects should keep the community informed as they see fit. If a business hasn't publicly shared their story, their plan, etc, there's probably a good reason.

  • Be Supportive: Instead of spreading rumors, spread positivity. Share the good news about projects and business updates.

The Bottom Line

Gossip might be a guilty pleasure, but it’s one we can’t afford. The next time you hear a rumor about a new project or local business, take a step back. Remember, those businesses are the lifeblood of our community, funding everything from street repairs to the new playground. Let’s support them with facts, not fiction.

So, let’s raise a cup of coffee (or a burger from Bob’s) to a gossip-free future. Because in our town, every word counts, and we’re all in this together. Cheers to truth, trust, and thriving local businesses!

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