Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Community...a Business Plan?

My partners and I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it means to try and be a viable business in a rural community. A publishing business, no less.

We know what it meant to attempt our ideas in an urban area: the complications of money, the guardedness of competitors, the closemindedness of peers, but still the possible connections at every turn.

Now, in our new small-town home, we help with the work of rebuilding after years of...I was going to say neglect but that's not right. This little town is no different than many: set off from financial centers, transportation hubs and major media attention we experience the double-edged blessings of benign seediness and boundless possibilities. No idea is too far fetched. All you can do is fail or succeed, don't ya know. [And who's to say that the old market building, shown in this photo, can't become a community hub again?]

I wake up in the morning and throw on anything that comes to hand, with-or-without makeup (usually without). A local nursery contributes a tree for our park and another donates the lumber for a new sign for that park which town kids will decorate and we have the makings of a major celebration, and rightly so. Someone reads an article about a new publisher settling in this small town and shows up at my door one morning, book in hand, with not an eye batted at my uncontrolled hound dog or messy house.

The fact that we are welcome here as neighbors to help in the rebuilding, not as meddling newcomers, tells us we have made a good choice for our "corporate" headquarters.

And so my new thoughts about a business plan are as follows:

Can a business plan include: a front porch, bird feeders, a vegetable garden, poetry, and a piano?

Apparently so, because I have decided if there are no hummingbirds and gold finches, then I’m sorry but the deal’s off. Yes, I’m prepared to put up with the inconveniences—the neighbor who starts cutting his grass at 6:00 p.m. (my cocktail-and-inspiration hour), or the teenage boys for whom spring is 4-wheeler time. They come and they go. I can sit here all day and outlast them. Just the price of doing business.

The freedom to be supremely isolated and intimately connected is the twenty-first century model. And while I write these words my hound dog bays with the best of them, adding his own discord to the evening’s music.

What can we create together? What is possible alone? Who is out there to work with, to trust, to partner with, to make life better with? These are the truly profitable questions many people are asking and they are the questions Thimbleberry Press, as a company, seeks to answer and to profit from.


  1. Oh. This is beautiful. Very visceral imagery, makes me want to show up your doorstep to watch the birds and eat some fresh baked bread. The photo of Stimac's, with that impossibly blue sky and the wisps of cloud... what a landscape for doing business!

  2. Laura,
    Thanks for visiting my blog and I am glad that you enjoy it. I believe I sent you a message that I deleted your comment, but I didn't. It seems I was just being a ding-dong.

    My husband and I decided to move back to our small town about 11 years ago. We had been living in the D.C. area, but wanted to get back to the small town environment and raise our children.

    It takes a little bit more effort to seek out activities at times, but mostly it has been worth it. The world is still out there,now we just get to choose how much we connect with it.

    I think that hanging out with dogs and birds is one of the best things in life. I am listening to birds right now as I type, so I hope you set up your workspace with the birds, dogs, poetry and piano. It is so worth it.

  3. Laura - what a talent you have! If this was in a book I would have eagerly turned the page for more. Looking forward to meeting you! Keep on doing what you are doing - believe me, it is providing inspiration for us all!
    Jodie Willobee

  4. You just described my long-time dream scenario! In mine, I want a little Café in the mix, too. :-)

    Good luck!