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How do you change the attitude of a town?

lakeneatahwanta2My town has some very nice features: natural beauty, walkability, low crime rate, easy access to rural settings and larger cities…

My town has some features that most would view as negative: highest taxes in the country, 30 percent of the budget for welfare, high unemployment…

As is the case many places — the topic of conversations centers around the negatives. When a house sells and the buyer is from out-of-town the conversation quickly turns to … Why would anyone want to move to Fulton? I can list a bunch of reasons but the problem is people have lost or never developed a pride or ownership of this town. Occasionally one of our sports teams will be ultra-successfully and the town will rally its pride for a short time and then that dies down and the complaining or worse apathy begins again.

This morning a friend emailed me about the Law of Attraction which I have written about many times. How do you present this idea to a young adult male? My first thought was from another male. This led me to read about Phil Jackson on Oprah’s website. Coach Jackson shared in an excerpt of his book the thoughts he had gleaned from the book Tribal Leadership. He listed 5 stages that a group can exist in. My summation of his summation — Stage One: being hostile — everyone is out to get me. Stage Two: life stinks — why bother. Stage Three: I’m going to get what’s mine. Stage Four: Competitive — our group against your group leads to success for our group. Stage Five: Working together in harmony for the good of all.

Image8flagI looked this up, to help my friend out, but she had indeed been the one to lead me to my epiphany. In my town there are extremely few people in Stages Four or Five. I wondered how do you get a whole town to level Four, at least, and ultimately Level Five? The answer is always start from where you are. The first year we had a Spring Clean Up at the high school in town — over a hundred kids showed up on a Saturday to work for hours beautifying their school.

I was pleasantly surprised until I stated to listen. Most of the kids weren’t there for a cooperative school spirit event. A small percent were there to be with their boyfriend/girlfriend — forget about picking up a shovel. The vast majority were there for what they could get out of it: either bonus points from a teacher, or community service time for either court or a school organization, or a certificate of participation for a college portfolio. Β There was a very small percentage of kids there for the pride of doing for the greater good.

Image2leavesWhat I noticed as the decaying leafs were raked up and the weeds were pulled and the grass edged around the trees… when the flowers were planted and the mulch laid down… a change occurred in the kids. They stood there with great pride. And when Monday came and 1200 kids piled off the buses — I watched those Stage Two and Stage Three kids — point out to their friends which flowers they had planted and told kids to use the sidewalk instead of walking across the freshly seeded lawns. They moved to at least being Stage Four people.

So how do we change the attitude of our town? The one thing we rally around is competitive sports so I’m thinking about some kind of competition between our six wards. Maybe have a town clean up day and the ward with the most participants or the ward that collects the most garbage wins something nice for their ward and of course bragging rights. It’s hard to stay apathetic in the middle of a competition.

What would you do if most of your town talked as if anywhere but here had to better?

Image9riverTo answer my friend’s other question: “How is the Fulton project going?” When I read that, I hadn’t heard from the few people who I would label as Stage Five people for many weeks. When I closed out the email from my friend there was an email waiting for me from one of the those Stage 5 — I’m in it for the greater good people wanting to meet and to talk about making this a town everyone is proud to live in.

Has the Law of Attraction or the Law of Manifesting worked for you today?