Creating a 'culture of yes' in your community
posted by Errin Welty

No Signs

Many communities espouse themselves to be business-, family-, or visitor-friendly, but very often this intent is not reflected by the actual user experience of the place. Frequently, policies that guide development or activity in a space are created without regard for unintentional consequences, or these policies have been created on an ad hoc basis over time which collectively make it simple for officials to say no to new ideas, people and activities, but much more complicated to say yes to a new idea.

This is not the fault of the individuals or governing bodies making the rules, but rather a natural outcome of our civic rule-following tendencies.  However, humans have the ability to override in the best interest of our goals. Just as we can say no to a second helping of dessert to achieve our weight loss goals, we can choose to say yes to a new idea if it has the potential to make our community better. 


Cultivating a business-friendly community


What does it mean to be business-friendly? If your community believes that it has a culture of saying yes to small businesses, what has been done to verify and credibly promote this culture? To test this theory, ask yourself the following questions: Is a small business-friendly attitude reflected in the zoning? Are there districts which allows multiple types of businesses to open easily without conditional use permits? For instance, if a cat café (it’s a new thing, google it) wanted to open locally, is there anywhere this is feasible? How many meetings would it take to obtain the necessary approvals? Learn how the answers to these questions can impact the number of vacant storefronts in your community. 





What does it mean to be family friendly?


The actual physical environment sends cues about who is welcome in a space. If a space is not accessible, is poorly lit, too noisy, has nowhere to sit, or only allows pedestrians 10 seconds to cross the street, it effectively tells children, older adults, women, or those with disabilities that they are not welcome in a space. Conversely, having amenities that encourage people to linger and attract a wide variety of individuals to actively use public spaces create a compounding effect – in short, people are drawn to other people. 

These types of amenities are perhaps most appreciated by visitors to a community. If someone is new to your community, what type of messages do they encounter when arriving? Are they encouraged to go places and do things that help them experience the community or do messages largely tell them how NOT to behave? 



March 2018





Cell Phone Photography & Merchandising for Social Media

March 12, Cambridge
March 13, Fond du Lac

April 11, New Richmond

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Restaurant & Hospitality Business Best Practices

March 12, Osceola

March 13, Rice Lake
March 26, Ripon
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Getting Started with Popups
March 21, Lake Mills

March 22, Two Rivers
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Incremental Development Workshop
April 12, Johnson Creek
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Retail Merchandising
April 19, Cumberland

April 20, Menomonie
April 25, Marshfield
April 26, Wausau
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Keys to Business Success
April 30, Arcadia

Wisconsin Rapids, May 1
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Facade & Property Improvemments to Boost Business

March 21, New Richmond
May 1, Waupun

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