How The Irish “Tidy Towns” Concept Can Help You Revitalize Your Small Town

by Joanne Steele on November 11, 2009

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You’ll notice that I’ve been concentrating in this month’s posts on constructive things we can do for our businesses and towns that are free and will relieve some of the winter and economic blues.

tidytowns.

Here’s a boost for your whole town.

Economic downturns take a real toll on small towns. And the consequences are so visible. The vacant storefronts cluster in the heart of our communities – our downtown areas.

Upkeep on homes and yards may have taken a backseat to more pressing issues… like finding a job.

Rallying your community around clean-up and revitalization projects can help make everyone feel better right now and more optimistic about the future.

The question of where to start has already been answered for us by groups and individuals all over the world.

Today I discovered a valuable post on Jennifer Brooks blog, The Rurban Fringe.

In her post, ‘Tidy Towns’ Initiative Encourages More Than Neatness she included links to Tidy Towns programs in Australia and Ireland that have been in existence for 40 years! The Irish site was the most helpful, with a 125 page “how to” handbook in its publication section.

Whereas Canada and the US have litter pickup and prevention programs, these Tidy Towns programs are comprehensive. They are about town revitalization. The Irish handbook will show you how to set up a committee, do assessments and planning, and implement your projects.

Now is the right time for revitalization, from quick cleanups to major projects.

In the US there is still stimulus money circulating for rural development. I know India is also spending on rural development. With planning your town may be able to qualify for stimulus grants.

DunsmuirIn my little town of Dunsmuir, CA, USA, the town council has used a stick and carrot approach to getting downtown building owners to clean up and paint their buildings.

We still have 19 empty storefronts, but things are looking up.  The bank is getting a new paint job that enhances the historic nature of the building. And down the street a mural is being added to the side of the fly fishing shop.

Last week before our fall rains started, it was fun to sit on one of our downtown benches and watch towns people gather to talk and watch as the biggest project got underway, the painting of the old rundown hotel. For the first time in months, the talk was optimistic and enthusiastic.

It’s amazing what a little paint can do!

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