Some books are meant to be read and then passed along, some books are meant to be displayed on a coffee table and then there are some books that are meant to be used over and over again. “ABC Volume One,” published by the Boomtown Institute, is one that would be in the last category.
The book is deceptively small. It measures only five-by-five inches and has only 67 numbered pages, although it could be argued that it really has 26 pages, one for each letter of the alphabet. A person browsing the bookstores during the Christmas season might find this little piece of work ideal as a stocking stuffer. But this book should not be judged by its size or shape. When used properly, this little collection of ideas could change a community.
“ABC Volume One” is an offspring of Jack Schultz’ “Boomtown USA — The 7 1/2 Keys to Big Success in Small Towns,” which was published in 2004, and has become something of a revitalization manual for many people in the world of economic and community development. It would therefore be prudent to obtain both books.
What is probably more realistic is that the leaders of a community revitalization effort obtain both books, and then use “ABC Volume One” as a discussion guide. Another practical use of “ABC Volume One” is in staff meetings of economic and community development organizations. For example, at weekly staff meetings a different employee might lead a discussion on a particular “letter,” or idea. The little book would also be useful for any business that has a community outreach committee.
As its title implies, “ABC Volume One” uses the letters of alphabet as its outline of ideas. Each idea has about a paragraph of text and then a question for further discussion. For example, “I” defines incubator and then asks, “Has your community considered starting an incubator for up and coming entrepreneurs?” The “L” page has a list of nine traits for strong leaders and then asks the reader if he or she has those traits. The ”W” page discusses WiFi, which is short for wireless fidelity, and broadband technology and how these technology developments make it possible for rural communities to be “…on equal footing in the new economy.” The text points out that high-speed Internet connectivity is a necessity in today’s world. The question that follows is simply, “Is your community connected?”
Some readers will discover new terms and meanings. Nexus, silo mentality and teeter-totter factor immediately come to mind. According to the book, nexus equals focus, as it refers to the connected groups or series. Silo mentality is “a narrow-minded way of thinking that is detrimental to an area’s success.” The teeter-totter factor is a term that refers to the idea that there are some communities that are so small that a small change can have a drastic effect on a community. The teeter-totter can move out of balance and one side may go up or down. It is noted that teeter-totter is a regional term and that folks in Mississippi call a teeter-totter a seesaw.
Finally, just in case you missed them the first time around, those 7 1/2 keys to success in small towns are:
1. Adopt a Can-Do Attitude
2. Shape Your Vision
3. Leverage Your Resources
4. Raise Up Strong Leaders
5. Encourage An Entrepreneurial Approach
6. Maintain Local Control
7. Build Your Brand
7 1/2. Embrace the Teeter-Totter Factor
“ABC Volume One” retails for $6.95, and is available by online order at www.boomtowninstitute.com. Discounts are available for bulk quantities.