About a year ago we announced the beginning of Hometown Pride in Warren County! Since then, we’ve been pretty busy. After recruiting about 80 volunteers to start 7 new committees, we hosted a music festival, created a community directory, started building a few playgrounds, threw a block party, helped clean up our towns a few times, and a lot more. We started or completed more than 30 projects in 2018, logged about 2,000 volunteer hours, raised around $50,000, amassed more than 2,500 followers on social media, and worked in partnership with at least 25 other community organizations.
Warren County Hometown Pride now has a regular column in the Indianola Record-Herald. Read our first three here:
Our Hometown Pride committees are engaging their communities through social media! Here are a few things we’ve learned about getting people’s attention on our posts. What tips would you add to this list?
1. Pictures, pictures, pictures. A single, engaging picture is one of the best ways to engage people. Close-up photos of people (like this one!) definitely get attention. Take pictures of your committee in action, or pictures of a project you’re working on.
2. Hit on the Hot Topics! Find a way to connect the news of the day to your cause and community.
3. Be brief. Use as few words as possible to get your points across. Posts that include just a short phrase or sentence usually perform better than longer posts.
4. Be enthusiastic! Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm. Sharing that you are “so excited to introduce our newest volunteers!” will get more attention than “we have 3 new committee members.”
5. Ask people to participate. Ask thought-provoking and fun questions or take polls. And don’t be shy about asking people to like and share your page!
6. Post often and schedule in advance. Many experts recommend posting on Facebook at least once a day, but for volunteer-run pages like ours, once or twice a week is a more reasonable goal. Because of the way Facebook works, the more often people engage with your page, the more likely they are to see your next post. Try planning your posts out and scheduling them in advance so you only have to think about it a few times a month!
7. Use Events. If you have an event coming up, try creating a Facebook event. You can post updates directly in the event (under “discussion”), and everyone who has clicked “yes” or “interested” will be notified.
8. “Tag” other organizations, individuals and local businesses. When you tag an organization or individual, everyone who follows that organization may also see your post. (To tag someone, type @ and then start typing their name, and their name should automatically pop-up as an option to select and tag)
9. Coordinate multiple admins. If you have multiple administrators, make sure you are all on the same wavelength as far as what you are posting and when. One way to do this is to schedule posts in advance (see Tip #6), so the other admins can see they are coming and plan their posts around it.
BONUS TIP #10: Do something great! You can use all the tricks you want, but ultimately the most important “trick” is to do good work that people love. By far our most popular post so far was an offer to help out our neighbors. That’s what it’s all about!
– Tips compiled by Warren County Hometown Pride Coach, Lorin Ditzler and Carlisle Hometown Pride Treasurer (and Facebook admin), Emily Nordyke.
We’ve got a lot of meetings going on for Hometown Pride, and we know you want them to be as productive as possible. Here are a few tips for running an efficient meeting!
- Have an Agenda: Always have a clear agenda that outlines the topics to be discussed
- Start on Time: Start meetings at the time stated on the agenda. Meetings that start on time end on time.
- Time Limits: Include approximate time frames for each discussion item on the agenda, and stick to them.
- Meeting leader: Each meeting needs a clear leader – someone who will make sure that the agenda is followed.
- DO Interrupt: While we usually try our best NOT to interrupt people, when you are the meeting leader, sometimes you have to! It’s natural for conversations to get sidetracked, and it’s up to the meeting leader to get them back on track, even if that means (politely) interrupting.
- Preparation: The meeting leader should sure to have the background information needed to make decisions during the meeting. Or, if other committee members are responsible for bringing the necessary information, the meeting leader should check with them in advance to make sure they are prepared.
- “Parking Lot”: Inevitably, important ideas or topics will arise that are not on the agenda (or can not be resolved in the allotted time frame). These can sidetrack the meeting and keep you from completing your agenda. Keep a running list of those discussion items to put in the “parking lot” until later, and then make a plan at the end of the meeting for if/when you will address those (like putting it on the agenda for next time, forming a subcommittee, or resolving via e-mail).
- Make sure people feel heard: If it seems like someone keeps repeating the same idea, it’s probably because they feel they haven’t been heard yet. The meeting leader should make sure to acknowledge the point, either by addressing it immediately, putting it in the “parking lot” for later, or even writing down people’s ideas somewhere visible, like a white board.
- Follow up: When an item requires action, determine who will be responsible for that and include follow-up on the next meeting’s agenda.
What other tips would you add to this list?
Four of our Hometown Pride projects received funding from the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership, for a total of $16,500 in the 2018 grant cycle. The projects were:
- Carlisle – Playground Equipment for Lindhardt (South) Park: $4,200
- Norwalk – Cemetery Landscaping (in partnership with the City of Norwalk): $4,900
- New Virginia – Street Sign Replacement (in partnership with the City of New Virginia): $2,700
- Hartford – Christmas Lights (through Hartford Betterment Committee): $4,700
The grant recipients were recognized at a reception in Norwalk on May 15.
The Norwalk Hometown Pride committee’s new event, Front Porch Norwalk, was featured in the Des Moines Register and Norwalk Living magazine this month. The first front porch night is Monday, June 18!
Hometown Pride brought together more than 40 New Virginia residents for an ice cream social and community vision discussion. The participants talked about their ideas for how to improve their great community. The main ideas that came out of the discussion were:
- Clean-up the appearance of the community and improve first impressions. A few ideas for ways to do this were offered:
- Offer to help property owners clean-up their properties
- Improve entryways and add welcome signs
- Host a clean-up day
- Paint murals on the sides of buildings
- Plant flowers/flower baskets along street
- Market New Virginia and its assets to potential residents. Great community, easy access, low cost, etc.
- Add sidewalks and walking trails in the community.
- This will make our community more attractive
- Continuous sidewalks will be good for the parade and other community events.
- The City sidewalk code may need to be updated.
- Some of the older sidewalks are in disrepair and present a safety hazard
New Virginia Hometown Pride thanks the community for the great discussion. Our committee meets monthly to plan how we can act on these and other ideas.
We need your help to make these things happen! Would you like to help get one of these ideas off the ground? Contact us to learn how to volunteer for Hometown Pride.
A group of volunteers and other supporters met to talk about Indianola Hometown Pride and what they would like to see for the future of Indianola! Below are the highlights of their discussion. If you would like to get involved in Indianola Hometown Pride, please contact us to learn how. (Deadline to apply to the committee is February 9).
Discussion Notes from February 8
What we like about Indianola:
- Great place to raise a family
- Lots of opportunities
- Events, college, opera, lake, etc.
- “We do summer really well” – lots of summer activities
- Indianola is pretty big, but still has a small town feel
- Sense of community
- We have a city center, the square
- Very caring community
Opportunities for change in Indianola / Things we would like to do:
- A better way to get the word out about events. Need a central hub
- Letting people know they are in Indianola, and directing them to what’s here
- Welcome signs and special attraction signs
- Telling people about the many opportunities to get involved.
- A community organization fair?
- Improve home/yard appearance. Some yards have furniture, etc. in them.
- Offer assistance to those who are unable to fix up their yard/house
- Do a clean-up day
- Yard of the month?
- Refresh rundown buildings on 65 & 92. High visibility.
- Offer more incentives for businesses to fix up their buildings
- Maintenance of downtown parking areas
- Add bike racks
- Add public art
- Get a wider variety of people involved in community life – will help offer fresh perspectives
- Keep investing in the square
- What happens to the courthouse?
- Focus on retail options in the square
- Support local businesses
- Let Des Moines know that we are closer than you think
- We can draw people from around the County
- Can we survey what those people want?
- More restaurant variety (beyond pizza or Mexican)
- Public transportation options
- Hometown Pride should involve service clubs in our work
Read the full meeting minutes here.
Residents gathered at Cumming City Hall to talk about Hometown Pride and the future of their community! Below are the notes from the discussion. If you would like to help work on these ideas, or one of your own, join the Hometown Pride volunteer team. We are looking for people who want to be occasional volunteers (to help 2-3 times per year) or committee members (meet monthly). Or feel free to just drop us a line to share any ideas you have for Cumming! Contact us here.
DISCUSSION ON THE FUTURE OF CUMMING 2.6.18
Things we like about Cumming:
- Has a small-town feel, but still “8 minutes from everything”
- Bike path
- New flower pots in park and on street are a nice addition
- Cumming tap and the Distillery both attract people to town
- Legion and Parks group both doing positive things
Things we could do to improve Cumming:
- Add an attraction/amenity at the trail head, and paint lines in the parking lot
- Fix up the alley behind the Legion/Tap
- Provide more ways to meet your neighbors: music in the park? yoga in the park?
- Take advantage of “bike nights” at Cumming tap, perhaps by hosting a complementary community event at the same time, or using the opportunity to promote Cumming
- Purchase better Christmas Lights for decorating the town
- Provide more ways to share community news (not just the post office)
- Connect the bike trail to the new part of town (and to Norwalk?)
- What can bring people in the newer developments into “old town?”
- Do more Christmas events: Pets with Santa? Tree lighting in the park?
What would you add to this list? What can we do to ensure a great future for Cumming?