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<div class=”d4p-bbp-quote-title”>Bogatyr wrote:</div>tweva, your comment is really interesting, and touched on something I’ve been wondering about lately. Would you consider writing a “how-to” – an account of how your people organised, the problems you encountered and how you solved them, etc? Of course, it wouldn’t be automatically transferable to other places, but it might give a bit of a head-start.

I’m thinking of things like how you contacted people, how you persuaded them to take part, problems with organization, motivation and coordination… You get the drift…

Waiting fort he blacksmith Bogatyr so have a bit to answer you now – sorry for delay. Busy time of year here.

I live in a rural area with the closest largest own of abt 8000 20 minutes or so away. i am not in the ‘hinter-boonies’. It is an area of large private farms (mostly cattle) , wineries and small ‘hobby’ farms……and lots of people that have lived here all their life …and their families before them. Civil war battle country. The area people locally refer to it as the ‘free state’.

People still farm here although most all still have full time jobs, are retired or wealthy people who come out to their place on the occasional weekend. A large majority ride horses. I’ve had a business in the general area for 25 years so if people don’t know me, pretty much I ‘look familiar’ to them or, they’ve probably heard/know the business, or had a friend or relative that has worked for us over the years. So when we bought this place 4 years ago we weren’t ‘strangers’ to this little hamlet.

That’s background because you are right my experience is not automatically transferable…mostly because people’s attitudes are different in different areas of the country — prevalence wise.

I am outgoing and talk to people/strike up conversations easily. So… I was talking to someone at the local market one day while waiting for a sandwich and he was bemoaning the fact that it ‘used to be around here that…’ – insert whatever. One of the things that ‘used to be’ was the ‘neighbors’ used to get together more (there are about 48 people per square mile) and you ‘used to be’ able to ride out and ride across others property without worrying about having dogs set on you and your horse or be shot at etc. I’d heard about the guy/who he is/where he lives over the years (although never formally met) so….it was late August…we’d just moved in …so I told him I’d have a ‘neighborhood’ cook-out.get to know my new ‘neighbors’….put up a sign but he needed to help encourage people to come – and show up with is family himself. I put up a sign/invitation on the bulletin board – bring your own drink (sodas, tea provided) and something else (NO green bean casseroles or cole slaw please) – we’ll provide the rest and we’d love to meet you and your family. Fishing (pls supervise your kids) and swing sets/horse shoe pit for the kids. Just rsvp pls for head count.

That was a blast. Offer free food and something for their kids to do and they will come. At some point a group of us got talking about why we did this and I related the ‘used to be’ conversation. Heads nodded. Well I said, it takes participation and effort to maintain that casual community togetherness doesn’t’it? Who died that it changed? I figured someone or someone(s) were the ‘glue’ in the past and they either moved or died and the ‘used to be’ became the current norm. That got them thinking. So, we agreed and 6 people volunteered to each hold this same sort of get together, one get together a month for the next six months. And, some of the guys (about 5) and women (about 3) agreed to meet the following weekend to talk about the ride out/access problem…at the market.

I’ve always seemed to be a catalyst. It went on from there and still does. Both the get-togethers and the ride out/community trail group. For the trail group we figured out who knew whom landowner wise and we divided up who would talk to the major players/owners. We took a map and figured out where people ‘used to’ ride, made up some basic ‘rules of the road’ potential new ‘members’ would have to agree to in order for the big landowners to be more likely to agree to letting members on/or to cross their property. (Mostly member and one guest only, wear identifying something, always re-close gates, no accompanying dogs on the trails, no atv’s, no riding through planted fields etc – basic, courtesy stuff – trail maps only go to approved members – you f-up and you are out period.

We quickly got about 3 miles of continuous ride out approval. Met again and headed out to check the old trails and what work might be needed to them. Then…well you just talk. Lots of diversity in the group from downright crimsom red neck, good ol boys to a couple city lawyers and a judge. As we got more continuous miles I suggested we concentrate first on being able to make a circle route around the village – might come in handy ‘some day’. That started another conversation. So a subset of the growing group started talking about the state of the world and how being able to ‘check out’ what was going on around the immediate vicinity and get to a neighbors to help if needed would be useful…and it has just, well grown.

It’s informal, but when you regularly sit down and eat and talk with people and play with their kids and stuff bonds just start to grow and ‘like attracts like’ and we like-minded of the group just talk – and we are all doers – so we ‘do’ stuff. The only formal thing we all agreed on at one of the early meetings was to NOT talk about politics or religion. Easy to agree to but funny as hell when you have to speak up and remind someone!

Oops – blacksmith! HTH