If you’re making a list of books to read during the new year, put this week’s book at the top. It’s “13 ways to Kill Your Community” by Doug Griffiths with Kelly Clemmer. The book I reviewed is the second edition.
When you read the title of the book you might be inclined to think the book is intended for people involved in economic development of communities. While it’s true that the book is a valuable tool for these professionals, the book is really for everyone. Each of us is a member of a community.
When you read the title of the book you might be inclined to think the book contains dry information and facts about economic development and community government. Also not so! I was pleasingly surprised that the book is written in a down-to-earth manner with examples and anecdotes. It not only provides valuable information but in an entertaining way. In addition, some of the information is surprising — I learned a lot by reading the book.
Doug Griffiths holds two degrees, has been a teacher and rancher, and has served in the Legislature where he advocated for policies that would strengthen rural communities. In January 2015 Griffiths retired from politics in order to help communities “find ways to be prosperous and enduring.” He speaks to groups and provides guidance to communities around the country, a “community therapist” of sorts. Griffiths visited Craig in 2016.
“13 Ways to Kill Your Community” is written in first person, from an interesting point of view. Instead of writing what communities can do to become more successful, Griffiths focuses on what they can do to sabotage their success. This approach makes sense to the reader when he or she discovers why he chose the point of view.
As an educator, Griffiths spoke to groups of high school students about factors that are important in order for them to become successful in life, but he wasn’t getting the results he sought. So one day he decided to turn things around. He asked students what they had to do now in order to fail in life. Students discovered that they were making decisions in their present lives that would have long-term effects on their futures.
So then Griffiths applied the same teaching plan to communities, asking them to consider decisions they might make to fail. Thus, the book contains thirteen chapters with titles such as “Forget the Water,” “Don’t Attract Business,” “Don’t Engage Youth” and others.
I was surprised by some of the information that Griffiths offers. For example, Griffiths has found that towns with competitive businesses are more successful than towns with one of each business, like a grocery store. He explains why. It makes sense.
Included on the cover and a special section at the back of the book are thoughts of people around the country as to the work of 13 Ways, Inc. These thoughts include those of John Ponikvar, Frank Moe and Lance Scranton of Craig.
This book is loaded with positives; it’s a must read. In the introduction to the book Griffiths hints that he is collecting information to write “13 MORE Ways to Kill Your Community.”
“13 Ways to Kill Your Community” is published by FriesenPress. Because I reviewed the book during the holiday, I was not able to research the cost of the book or where you can get a copy, but I will include the information in next week’s column.