Did you somehow miss Part One? It’s OK! — You can still check it out here.
Now, if you’re a lifelong resident of your hometown — like me — then you’re likely to recognize the skills required in becoming “a good townie.” Let’s bear each in mind, as we work toward improving our brand and retaining New Hampshire’s most successful young people.
Control the Narrative
If you haven’t noticed: indignation is trending.
We all have Facebook “friends,” whose posts air their every grievance. If they’re not complaining about a local public school’s budget, then they’re criticizing the quality of taxpayer-funded snowplowing — or a million other things!
Sadly, this negativity satisfies something in them. To be personally outraged, nowadays, means to be personally better. And this outrage is hijacking the narrative of our hometowns.
As a townie and a schoolteacher, I am well aware of my city’s reputation. And despite our community’s successes — its celebrated schools, its championship sports teams, and its downtown’s revival — some negativity prevails.
Townies occupy a unique social niche — and with it, assume special responsibilities. By redirecting the conversation, we can reclaim the narrative about our hometowns. “Share” positive stories about your community on Facebook; “re-tweet” links to news articles that celebrate local restaurants or altruistic organizations; and type laudatory letters to the editor to compete with the others.
Hone Your Brand
Are you serving to subvert the townie stereotype or reinforce it? As a lifelong resident of Laconia, I am completely immersed in its culture, and unfortunately, my quirky complexes are only exacerbated by this immersion: my petty resentments, my social inhibitions, my sense of inferiority. In my weaker moments, I am the living embodiment of a stereotypical Laconia townie.
But in my better moments — when I’m most mindful — I am able to choose to be someone else — someone, whom New Hampshire’s communities need. I live intentionally to defy the stereotype of a townie. My life is not some insular time capsule; it’s connected, and it’s happening now.
If we can reshape the misperception of “townies,” then we’ll have a better chance at retaining the next generation of our most ambitious, highest achieving young people!
Become an Ambassador
As the 2017 New Hampshire Teacher of the Year, I am not only an ambassador for education, I am also an ambassador for our state and for the mission of Stay Work Play NH.
And as I travel beyond New Hampshire’s borders, I understand that the perceptions of our state’s inviting economic and social climates partly depend on me. Whether I’m among likeminded educators at a national conference or among strangers at an airport lounge, I’m prepared to promote proudly our state.
As townies, we should all serve as ambassadors. So, brush up on your facts! For example, did you know that New Hampshire was recently voted the #1 state “for families to live a richer life?” Know well the factors that help New Hampshire maintain its high score on similar quality of life indexes and share them with others!
See? It’s not easy being a “good townie”—but more than ever, it’s important. We play vital roles in our hometowns, and New Hampshire is counting on us!
If you or someone you know would like to be profiled, then contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s continue to celebrate our living New Hampshire!