How to treat “Silo Disorder” as a Detriment to Rural Community Building and Vitality…

by | Aug 2, 2014


Strategic Philanthropy  Click highlighted text for more…




Collective Impact

“Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.”

“Collective Impact!”  Quote from this article from Stanford Social Innovation Review…

“Against these daunting odds, a remarkable exception seems to be emerging in Cincinnati. Strive, a nonprofit subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, has brought together local leaders to tackle the student achievement crisis and improve education throughout greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. In the four years since the group was launched, Strive partners have improved student success in dozens of key areas across three large public school districts. Despite the recession and budget cuts, 34 of the 53 success indicators that Strive tracks have shown positive trends, including high school graduation rates, fourth-grade reading and math scores, and the number of preschool children prepared for kindergarten.”



Ralls, Texas Grain Silos 2010

I was asked again yesterday, what is meant by my reference to a rural community sickness coined by me as “Silo Disorder.”  For starters click on the highlighted text link that defines a “silo” mostly connected with a farming community where grain is stored in tall cylinder structures close to rail transportation.  My work over the past 25 years in rural community building projects reveals that the greatest challenge and obstacle to overcome at the beginning of any project for the “greater good” is to get our neighbors and community leaders to talk to each other, build relationships, discover teamwork, and find common ground…  We often refer to this process as leadership, but I don’t believe defining leadership initially helps…it is too subjective.  Leadership means different things to folks and the dots are rarely connected unless there is a reference to something tangible and attention getting like “silo disorder.”  If we all stay in our tiny sheltered world of self interests only, we never see the light of day or the bigger picture of what we should be talking about to build community vitality where new opportunities are discovered…where innovation happens…where we begin to find new social investment capital never before realized by creating public private partnerships (PPP)… click for graphic images…

Communities everywhere dream about economic development and improving the community as a popular destination point for vacationers and travelers, including building a much better quality of life for citizens, but can’t seem to make it happen until tearing down the silo mentality and start talking and trusting each other.  We residents and community leaders often find ourselves stuck in the mud for decades because we spend our time picking on each other about the small stuff, and never get to the part where a strategic plan for the greater good comes into clear view.

We have to stop all the silliness and ignorance right now where ever we live and get down to the basics of building a community culture that thrives.  Get all these individual self interest groups, including local government, business, non-profits, schools, colleges, chambers of commerce, home owner associations, young adults, adults, seniors, moms, dads, parents, and grand parents, including the kids to hold hands and start talking… amazing stuff will happen in your community!  Go for it and stop whining, complaining, and blaming.  It takes a village, a team, and strong leadership to build a thriving community.  We have to do this work for the greater good together with common goals and strategic plans…  Start talking and trusting your friends and neighbors and get to work!

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1 and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…


Vice Chair,, Depoe Bay, Oregon


Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon…A public private partnership (PPP)…click for larger view…

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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