Happy Mid-Summer All. I have to admit that I've gotten caught up in the politics of life right now. I cannot say I paid a lot of attention until about 8 years ago. So with it being an election year, very little traveling this summer, my attention has been all over the place.
A great deal of the recent politics of Minneapolis and the surround states is setting the tone or pace for South Dakota. I believe with the Governor of Minnesota, even a few years ago we've had interested people \ businesses wanting to leave that state and looking at South Dakota. My community has had inquiries about moving across the border. I was not aware then why so. But through the past couple months, I'm starting to get a better picture. I am not stating this on my page anything to do really with debating or my view versus your view.
What I am sharing here is a very well done video by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. The site is GOED's (Governor's Office of Economic Development) website. The site and the Governor's message is quite clear and addresses what is going on today around the world and South Dakota's position on Covid-19 and how we are addressing it. The biggest message Governor Noem shares is about our state welcoming businesses that want to come here to build their business, live and do business. She addresses it and invites others to take a look at what we have and how we do business.
The reason I'm sharing this here is it pertains to our communities -- rural or otherwise. I have shared asking the question are we going after the business? Are we ready? Are our 'powers that be' have a plan and understand how we can benefit? Do your County Commissioners or municipalities have strategic plans or ways to capitalize? Many times our small communities are not in the running for some businesses, but other times they are.
I've shared so many times that I'm sounding like a broken record, but we need to be PRO-ACTIVE. Many communities are, they have economic development boards, they have paid full or part-time directors and programs. It's fact that those communities that do not are not faring as well. So KUDOS to those communities that have something in place to help with community and economic development. Also when the city government is focused on improvements, and making changes for the 21st century will our communities begin to grow. Thriving is a huge goal for communities.
What do you love about yours?
What do you hate?
Are you willing to run for city or county positions?
If you care about your community, I would encourage you to think about it.
Economic development use to mean "big business". Part of a community growing or changing involves rethinking that and convincing the "powers that be" that we cannot literally go out and find those "savior" businesses. No big business will save our towns.
The power to control the future is not just up to our towns officials or organizational leaders, but rests with the residents of the community. You know what that means for you. Just maintaining status quo while everything around us is diminishing will not work.
It's in all our hands.
YouTube - Governor Kristi Noem
SD Governor's Office of Economic Development
Early settlers, cattle & sheep ranchers settled in the northwest corner of South Dakota. History of the museum, artifacts, and the One Room School House is shown in the video. The video is simply a stop gap until you can make the trip on SD Highway 85 through Harding County, to see for yourself. A copy of the skull of a T-Rex that was discovered in Harding County, is named by Stan by it's discoverer Stan Sacrison. If you happen to notice the same last name of my own, Stan is a brother-in-law of mine and has quite a history of finding fossils in the area. If you care to see more about dinosaurs and Stan, the Black Hills Institute is a great place to stop in Hill City, SD. Harding County is an amazing land with natural formations to see and appreciate. Note here two videos one for the Buffalo Museum and one of Black Hills Institute in Hill City, SD.
Please take a minute and walk across the street from the Buffalo Museum to another great display and attraction with interesting written depictions of Tipperary, history of the settlers, and the history of the area. It's called the Great Western Cattle Trail. You'll want to see both when you venture to this corner of SD. It's always a place to stop on your way through to Medora, ND, and the Teddy Roosevelt Historical State Park as well, or make it your destination.
The Pictures Below are in the Video as well.
Today I wrote an article for my local newspaper. In light of all the world events lately from Covid-19 to looting, rioting, and politics being front and center; we still live and work in our own communities. We might not be touched by what those bigger cities are going through in a personal manner, however the issues are pertinent to all of us. Life as we've known it has changed. We are still discovering the new normal; it's evolving and with it will come change and becoming more insightful. I will go out on the limb however and say it's certainly not all one way or the other; we all need personal reflection.
Eastern SD is already seeing some of the changes. People are moving out of the cities and we believe some businesses will follow. Is your community ready for change? Are you open to it? Do we even know how to be or get ready? Sometimes it takes a whole lot of money, leadership, and time to make some of the necessary changes. However, there are some things we all can do:
First, find someone that recently moved into your community for whatever reason. Then ask them:
1) How has their relocating into the community gone?
Were the locals friendly? Welcoming? Have you noticed any bias'? Is there anything as a community that could be improved on?
2) Did the neighbors welcome you? Are we guilty of not practicing "neighboring" anymore? Do we take the time to be a neighbor or know them by name?
3) Has anyone invited you to get involved or invited you to attend/join an organization or church? Or reached out and given you a list of organizations, or resources for them?
4) Do you have a welcome basket that is given to new residents? A few communities I've lived in, our Chamber did it personally. You want to be known as a welcoming community? It starts with you.
On a funny note I cannot help but add "A Do Not DO": please don't stare or stop the conversation when someone new walks into a church, business, or bar that you've never seen before! Turn back if you're not willing to go up and introduce yourself. Many of us have experienced silent stares in person.
I cannot stress it enough to welcome newcomers, or those returning who once grew up in your community. We're all going to benefit in some manner. Now is the time, people.
Let's Step It Up,
Travel Backroads Began 3 years ago in June!!
I'm dating myself when I recall the old commercial "Where's the Beef" when Wendy's Hamburger Chain came out with it in 1983. Where is the beef? Who is in control? I share these videos concerning the passion, the drive, the importance that American cattlemen and pork producers are going through right now during the Covid-19 pandemic. It's too bad that it took a pandemic to raise the question about beef in our country, when it should have been raised long before this.
Loree Gaikowski here share's her passion with me in a Zoom conversation we had during our social distancing segment of our year 2020. She has raised the question more times because she grew up and clearly understands what is happening to the small family farm and it's survival. I, on the other hand, do not necessary have a grasp on it having grown up in the city where the meat I ate was found at a grocery store or a restaurant. Now we cannot even say that when there is a shortage of beef.
Cattle and pork producers are facing perhaps the biggest problems of their existence. From my perspective it seems dire when 2-3 of the largest meat packing plants have shut down leaving thousands of farmers stranded and having to kill off their animals.
During this time of the CoVid-19 we find out a great deal about ourselves. As a community, a nation, as a person, as a society; we discover our patterns, our beliefs, scruples and values. We're also learning in a very different way with the social distancing. Through the news media, I've learned of the ridicule and the lies that people casually throw out or push within their agenda. I'm not talking politically only; this is not a political post. We all have to decide where we stand because we espouse a democracy.
But what we all will, and are experiencing socially is--what will evolve with this pandemic. Businesses are going to close and many will close and not reopen. Just this week through my job, a new business is thinking of starting up! To me, that's the inevitable crocus bursting through that last bit of white, cold snow refusing to go away. So, I can only encourage it. We all know the risks; there should be no reason that we're going into anything with our eyes wide shut. We have what we are suppose to believe usually shoved down our throats 24/7. Some of us prefer to live with our heads in the sand and eyes wide shut, but that is their prerogative too; again a democracy.
There is an opportunity here however; to come out the other side, we can embrace our businesses as many of us ARE staying home. Entrepreneurs, with fortitude and tenacity, still need to be encouraged and welcomed to think of the 'new future'. We won't be in our homes forever. Maybe this is a turning point, and I've shared this before that perhaps more businesses will turn to internet websites. Maybe that's a necessity. Maybe because there will be another pandemic; I know I'm quite certain of it. Hopefully we will be better prepared then, while in the meantime we still keep our store fronts and welcome those Intentional Acts of Community. Now to utilize those Intentional Acts we think of 'community,' in a different form.
Will we get back to a better future? Will that person who wants to start a business, or an older person such as myself, starting after retirement who don't have assets to start a business, get that break. Can banks re-evaluate their 'needs' for a note. Can we use the buildings on our streets where the landlord believes its 'worth a mint' but be willing to just have 'life' within it again? Can we collaborate...
Wow! There's a new concept! Work together? We are seeing it now because countrymen and women are seeing their fellow person's need and are stepping up to the plate.
Like you saw in my video outside Floral & Finds in my home of Clear Lake, people will be wanting to leave their cities now after this. Realtors not only have to sell a house, they need to sell the community.
But a community needs to sell itself. I'm reminded of workshops and conferences that I've attended --are our towns and communities really appealing to others? Would they want to live here? Are we friendly, welcoming, fixing our streets, our stores, our neighborhoods and more? Or do we think it's 'their' job and so it never gets done? The likelihood of people wanting to live more rural or move away from the dense populations are very possible. Reports in Vermont were when people were leaving New York State, they were hostile. But rightly so IF they were not quarantining themselves. But otherwise, we as in 'community', better embrace a possible change with open arms, OR DIE --brainstorming ways to help struggling businesses and communities.
Another area I have been shown is with Loree Gaikowski and Anita Holan; 'going local' is embracing important issues facing the 'Ag community'. One of them is our current meat industry which is slowly trying to burst on the scene with all the political fighting. They cannot quite make the scene due to it being a political election year of warring. The next blog posted is an interview I've done with Loree on these important issues.
There are little ways we can help Ag and small entrepreneurs. Find and support the 'home goods' businesses as well. Katy Kassian of Tate & Kate calls it "'ferreting out' the home goods folk." Have you ever had a country egg? Do you even know how long those 'store-bought eggs' have been circulating before they even make it the stores? There are those that make fresh jams & Jellies. Deuel Area Development has a kitchen incubator in Toronto, SD that offers space to help the entrepreneur begin a business with a home recipe. Have you heard of Day of the Dead Salsa in South Dakota? Or a meat locker where we can support the local beef farmer and still help with taxes going to our communities. The list is endless; veal, chickens, eggs, soap, dairy products, home goods and more. But it takes a deliberate act of consciousness and conscience to do it, let alone think it.
These are my thoughts for now. I'm busy as I social distance. My brain runs amuck. My heart is in the right place. Whether we're rural or city, country or town, we owe it to ourselves, our communities and our neighbors to be the best we can be.
Owner of Travel Backroads
I will celebrate 3 years the first of June for Travel Backroads. It's exciting because it was the culmination of a dream that started in 2014. If you follow me, you know what I'm speaking of.
Since my start and a loan to begin my first business, I have put money into a variety of ways to market my clients such as Apple Marketing (Siri and marketing), Ads on social media as well as listing on approximately 6 platforms and last year I joined SD Tourism. I won't be able to do that any more because they have a policy of their membership that about kills a mission like mine. If I'm representing several businesses, and not just myself whose mission ironically is to promote them, it costs an expensive amount for a membership. When I started "Backroads Dakota" there was only a mention on the website of traveling Highway 14 and stopping in several towns along the way, and since that time there has been an explosion of backroad travel and rural. This is great because most of SD and our region is rural so I'm happy that the state is on it.
Giving free advertising to small businesses would be nice if I could manage that, but my time is valuable and what I do to promote businesses is of value. I can talk myself blue in the face about how I am loyal, fiercely so, or how I'll do it non-stop but the buck really stops with the faith and trust from your business and you as an owner, in me. My heart is in this for the long haul, so I'll keep doing what I can for small business. I hope you do however take a chance on me and let me promote yours.
The future is uncertain now for a great deal in our lives. It's interesting too because at the risk of sounding dramatic, what does the future hold? I am not an economist and it worries me for all the local businesses, entrepreneurs, and even our society as we know it as we move into this time of uncertainty with the CoVid-19 Pandemic and that uncertainty grows daily. Where will our businesses be in a month or our lives in 6 months? What we're experiencing now is obviously unprecedented and time will tell. I hope we can explore new ways to support local and ways to assist those in need.
Let's hang in there; help your neighbors, help your businesses, keep the tax dollars flowing best you can, buy gas in your communities, your groceries, eat out or carry out when you can, don't get caught up in all the media of blaming others or our government because this was not done, or that. To me that makes us all bullies--laying blame non-stop. Let's hope; that what we've learned we won't repeat, that we correct the problems, and we support each other. We see a shift in values, families hanging together, working together, and lives changing forever and loved ones dying. We've got to make it for the long haul and of course, we can do what it is going to take.
My thoughts are with you as we move with hope & faith into the future,
A Rousing Discussion on Customer Service
Recently I had a great conversation between friends; even a bit rousing. Customer Service was the topic of the day. This is bits and pieces from it and most definitely not all. Remember to bare with me because I write like I talk! 😉
One point of view that came up between us was basically 'a person should NOT do business with any shop/service in their town if their character is questionable, or the consumer has been snubbed, or ignored as a customer.'
Part of that discussion was what if that owner/manager does not know or understand how they come across to others?
Meaning-- maybe it's their personality but they have no idea they come across cold and indifferent? OR, maybe they do have an idea and don't care or don't think it's related to their ability to do business.
What if the person doesn't understand they come across like they do to others? Maybe they cannot do anything about it and perhaps they should never be with the public, but they are? What do we do to support our small businesses? Ignore it? Point it out to them?
There are many aspects that enter into a retail or service business. It's not cut and dried and many cannot get past the demeanor, character, the treatment and more. But, if we do not, do those businesses stand to close? Can our communities afford our 'non-support'? If you're feeling it about them, chances are you are not alone. Others feel it too. Will that business blame it on everyone else, but not at themselves if they fail? Is there an answer?
As I shared long ago, I was snubbed once at a pharmacy. I went elsewhere. I figured that I had the right to be treated better. I learned later that was just the pharmacist's personality--I was not picked out to be rude to; it was just poor customer skills. Do we help by pointing it out or telling them? (Good luck with that.)
I don't have the answers and not that I have to have them. In the greater scheme of things is this important? Maybe not, but it sure makes good conversation fodder between friends. (And yes, we're still friends and we agreed to pick the discussion up again!)
Hello 2020!! Just recently my husband and I ventured to Tacoma WA over Christmas to see our daughter and family. It's always fun to visit new places, yet we're not big travelers. If my site was about our travels via flying, I might was well give this up. We do travel back roads a great deal and it's because of that, this directory got it's start.
While we were there, my daughter knows I'm all about local business, new, quaint, and special little businesses. Our first visit the morning after arrival was a favorite donut shop of theirs. (Sidenote here: I noticed the business calls them "doughnuts" and out in the Midwest, we call them donuts. Now I have to know if that has to do with locations much like soda versus pop. Ha! Does it matter? No but it's how my brain works! )
Legendary Doughnuts was an amazing little shop full of doughnuts, calories, and unique decadent little goodies; so much so that you wanted to try each one. Bakeries and donut shops are getting with it I notice, because I had been in a similar one in Tucson AZ, yet this one had more of a personal touch to it. These donuts were more along a gourmet specialty type for lack of a better way to describe them. The menu offered so much more in way of selections, but we were only there for their amazing donuts. Unbelievably amazing.
Near there were some murals and my husband drew my attention to them. There were a great deal of murals on older brick walls throughout the suburbs. Murals have been on my mind lately because it's been the talk of Ec.Developers to create them in our communities. It is a terrific idea because it brightens up the community, pulls everyone together to work on a project, and like some communities such as Faulkton, SD people come just to see the murals. That is a part of economic development; to pull travelers into the community.
With the visit to this donut shop and seeing local murals, I've decided to expand our locations for the directory listings across the country. The murals are on the Destinations page on the menu. More small local businesses/services outside the borders of SD are going to be included too. I love experiencing them all--all "diamonds in the rough" around the country. I know, without a doubt, everyone has been to one of those places they'd love to tell others about. Since that is how I started this whole business; let's do it! Another one I shared is Bite Me BBQ in Witcha KS. I'm not a ribs eater, but oh my gosh, I'll turn into one there. You want to hit up this locally owned restaurant downtown Wichita. I realize that we don't all go in the same directions, but you never know...
Another, not to be forgotten, is a change in my pricing. Since starting my online directory, pricing has been difficult for me to figure out (a trail needing blazed). The business owners come first and my time to promote second, hence the pricing change. So for businesses to be promoted in Travel Backroads, they only pay a one time membership fee. It's affordable, quick, easy and the way to go. If in the future a business wants to update pictures, information, add more or less, it's a very minimal fee to do so of the Ala Carte menu. Also again; chambers of commerce, clusters of towns, commercial and community clubs can be listed on the Destinations page; Events too and Stories. I am fiercely loyal to local business. If we do not promote them and leave their support up to just their local towns people--they are in trouble. Let's collaborate!
I hope you'll take me up on this and get your business listed.
Hoping for a great, healthy, prosperous New Year for all!
Driving the Passion to Go Local
It's taken a while, but I finally feel I have my ducks in a row concerning how I want to handle the pricing of my business for local. I was with a group of women last night discussing local and talking about the size of our community back 30-40 years. It was sad to hear them talk how much change there has been in our particular 'rural' community. Now, compared to the 50's-60's our community of 1300 was around 2400 at that time...a thriving metropolitan rural community. I did not know the community in which I live, then, since I am a transplant. I would love to have seen it in it's heyday. I can only imagine now.
The women commented that there were farms everywhere and most everyone had a dairy cow or two along with their other cattle. Parents, grandparents and children were farming together on these small farms. Fast forward to today and the land is blotted with abandoned farm houses and barns, our schools have consolidated, and the land is more vast it seems now that so many of the individuals farmers have lost or sold their farms and big corporation farming has come in and taken over. The young farmer concept was a concept of the past, not of the future, or so I am thinking. Young farmers that want to get into farming, really cannot now because land is selling for too much and much of the land when it does come available is being sold at a higher price to those corporation farmers.
Big corporation farming too hits a rural community where it hurts as well. No longer do they buy gas, feed, seed from the local area in which they farm. They support those communities from where they are from, or bring in their own gas or their own feed and seed. I think relaying this to you I am doing pretty good at stating the problems. I listen to others and talk around the local watering hole, but I was raised city like I've said. The closest I came to a cow was seeing it from my car window on the land, or watching the "Ag kids" load a school bus at a location set apart from where the city kids did. So I think I have learned something these years living in rural America. I do know too I have a lot more to learn.
I don't have as much to learn as the professor from UC in Berkeley CA. The instructor Jackson Kernion that is teaching actual classes to students and took to Twitter to shame "rural Americans" and those who aren't "pro-city." Fox News quoted, "They, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions...and we should shame people who aren't pro-city."
He said "they" should have higher health care, pay more taxes and be forced to live an "uncomfortable" life for rejecting "efficient" city life," Really? REALLYYY? And this guy is paid by UC of Berkeley to teach his 11 philosophical courses? If you were to ask me, they should hang their head in shame. Jackson Kernion is really so far off the mark, and since receiving so much backlash from his comments, he's deleted his tweet. I sincerely hope that he is discredited overall and with that thinking run out of town. He has no clue about rural life, and it angers me the venom he used. Why open your mouth at all about something you know nothing about? Only because you can and you can mislead students who are gullible and listening in earnest? Man, it angers me.
Rural America is alive and well, by the way, and loved by many. Small communities are thriving and some even growing because citizens love where they live. Ben Winchester, a rural specialist from the University of Minnesota Extension and promoter of the rural brain gain migration concept supports this. One reason why the government's statistics reflect that the rural areas are being depleted is mainly because those rural areas are being eaten up by the metropolitan areas. But the brain gain is reflecting:
So here I am, working for small and local through my employment, business and website www.travelackroads.today. My business is not just about rural but small business whether they're on the country roads or on a city street. I do believe in rural because I have lived it for 35 years, and see raising children and living in rural truly as a lifestyle and one that we want to keep. The difficult part may come that in order to keep ruralism, we have to support it. We cannot run to the Walmart's, the metropolitan areas for their health care, and other businesses IF we have them in our communities. An occasional out-shopping trip will happen because that has become a pastime for Americans, but when it comes down to it; we snooze on this we lose. Or in Pat McGill's words, if we don't collaborate, we evaporate. Small rural cannot afford that, so working hard is required in educating our youth, our adults and working together as retailers and citizens to thrive. Once there is thriving, growth hopefully follows.
Joe Bartmann with Dakota Resources, at RuralX '18 Summit encourages us to be rural-shapers and it's up to us. There is a new rural happening and I want to be a part of it. So Jackson Kernion, you deleted your tweet and found out that surrounding yourself with only people that believe like you can come back to hound you when you share thoughts that are very much asinine. I'm thrilled personally that you felt you needed to take your tweet down and that there was feedback on it. I hope someone takes you by the ear and drags you into a ruralistic lifestyle you know nothing about and get some education. I just had to speak up.
(Posted on LinkedI & Facebook)
I'm sitting in west river South Dakota near my home and with family enjoying time together. It's great to have a few days off from work. But even greater to spend some time with family because we do not live near each other.
As I spend this necessary time with the business of Travel Backroads; my day job has been quite demanding. My day job, if you are not aware, is helping Deuel County in SD with economic wellness, growth and thriving. It seems like a thankless job sometimes, but I learned a long time ago that pats on the back are not required and that kudos come with seeing a job finished or well done. I survive with the latter by helping entrepreneurs, housing, business awareness, business collaboration, and community betterment. I personally thrive on it and I commit fully, not haphazardly to this passion of mine. If I meet with criticism, I'm not too shook as I know I'm doing the best I can with what I have as knowledge, and grateful that I'm always learning. Someone new, one day, will be able to too their hat in the ring and work their magic.
While in the Black Hills I had the chance to stop in, at one of my all time favorite businesses, and that is the House of Scandinavia. (Anyone notice my different car? My white one met a deer one night last month.)
Carmen Graves, daughter (and her siblings), of the Watkins, have been handed down the scepter of operations since their parents' retirement. I have been going to this store since I was a little girl. Stopping more in my adult life I have come to the realization that I'm grateful and blessed to have an appreciation for my Scandinavian roots; thanks to my Grandmother Nordin and the traditions we celebrated at Christmas. However, when my grandfather married and they started their family in Rapid City, having come from Milaca, Mn and Sweden, my grandfather Bernhard Nordin said "We're in America now, we will speak English." Much of the language and extras were not passed down through the generations, much to my dismay.
I've made my final decision within my business Travel Backroads to change my pricing. Keeping it affordable was always my goal and making it easy for businesses to get in the directory was the aim.
It's a one time listing fee; then you're in, like Flynn. The membership gets you in the directory on all the pages that apply. It also gets you social media coverage on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube for videos, and Yelp. Hiring Apple for a brief period has helped me get recognition on other platforms and Siri! This next summer you find my business as part of Glacial Lakes & Prairies Tourism publication as I've paid that price for my small & local business listers. I love promoting and have a new page also for "Testimonials." I so appreciate my customers' backing my business, and saying so.
I think one of the biggest aspects of my business are the maps. I reiterate; there are so many great stores and businesses that are on the backroads or on a city street, why miss them? Why not let others know they are there. I love it!
Travelers SHOULD know these stores are near them. Wouldn't you want to know? Like Clear Lake has these amazing women's clothing stores for ALL sizes (even curvy)
--why go I-29 when you can go Hwy 15 in east central SD. Then, if you get there, keep heading north to Milbank and stop at Linda's, or Milbank Flower or Whimsy on Main.
My next quest as part of my business is to show "Specialty Products" in their own category. (Homemade donuts like at Wall Drug--do you know this particular passion?) I KNOW for certain that others have their favorites --homemade malts, caramel rolls, specialty coffees, truffles, and more. Why not showcase these places just for what they are known for?
My next focus are Murals. They are not a trend, and seem to be artistically showing up on rural South Dakota community walls. So, I'm starting a category too for those. Organizing on the directory is a challenge because I want everything found easily; and I'm a self-appointed and self-taught webmaster; videographer too. Murals tell their own story and what communities want to say. They're great and the SD Art's Council is helping many with grants for their creation.
So, call me. Let me work for you. I want to promote you. I want to promote your business, your town, your product. I will do my utmost to show you how fiercely loyal I am to you. Check out my directory, follow me on social media and get on my blog's emailing list.
If you're not a biz, then please "say it forward" to your town's businesses, Chambers of Commerce, or a friend who's a store owner. I would really appreciate your help in my quest to drive the passion to go local. We cannot sit back, it's up to us to drive traffic to the diamonds in the rough.
Simply put, I'm always working, learning and growing with new things in-store.
with Travel Backroads