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Guidelines on how rural communities avoid divisive conflict

How do communities resolve conflict on a local level without creating ill-will and controversy? One good test is in the quality of interactions between rural community leaders and constituents in public meetings. How do communities resolve conflict on a local level without creating ill-will and controversy? One good test is in the quality of interactions between rural community leaders and constituents in public meetings.   The opposition materializes. People split into opposite camps. Unfortunately, issues become personalized. Animosity and ill will prevail. Public hearings turn divisive and ugly. The hot rhetoric burns the ears. After a meeting, supporters split into small groups and factions. They rehash what was said and how it was done.   The controversy and feelings continue well past public votes and decisions. Former friends don’t speak. Public leaders who took strong stands feel the wrath of the defeated with social snubs and economic boycotts. Memories are long. The impact sometimes lasts for years.   How to prevent political fallout? Does it have to be this way? Whatever happened to civilized discourse? Can’t people agree to disagree without letting strong emotion get in the way of friendliness and courtesy?   How politically hot topics are handled has a great deal to do with community harmony and cohesiveness. Here are some tips on how communities can avoid the fallout of explosive and corrosive politics.   1. Start early....

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More uses for vinegar, mess-free cooking tips and more

More Uses for Vinegar You can kill grass on walks and driveways by spraying with vinegar. You can kill weeds the same way. Spray vinegar around doorways, appliances and other areas where ants like to roam. Remove skunk odor from a dog by rubbing the fur with full strength vinegar, and then rinse well. Spray vinegar around areas where you don’t want cats to walk, sleep or scratch on. Put a little vinegar in the drinking water of chickens, and they won’t pick at each other. To tenderize a tough piece of meat, soak overnight in pure vinegar Spray sunburned skin with vinegar and it will take out the sting. To dissolve rust from nuts and bolts and other metal repair pieces, soak in full strength vinegar for several days. Then rinse, knock off any remaining rust with a wire brush, dry well and oil the cleaned bolts with some used cooking oil. (We’ve done this for years with the buckets of bolts, nuts and assorted ‘stuff’ purchased at farm auctions.  Cleaned up and sorted into the appropriate bins, they have saved us many dollars and unnecessary trips to town.) To unclog a steam iron, pour a solution of half vinegar and half water into the tank and let the iron heat to steam for 5 or 6 minutes.  Unplug the iron and let it set till just warm. Dump...

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Cheap laminate floor cleaner and more

Laminate flooring is wonderful, but some folks have trouble keeping it looking good.  Here's what has worked for me: I bought a mop with a microfiber pad and just use water.  The microfiber picks up every little bit of dust on the floor and I don't have to buy any cleaner at all! (I got a package of microfiber towels and made some replacement pads for the mop so I can just wash them…) – WS, OR         Chopping Tomatoes I watched my daughter-in-law chop some canned tomatoes the other day and was amazed!  She took her pair of kitchen shears and snipped through the tomatoes….still in the can!  Then dumped out the chopped tomatoes into her dish and stirred them in.  I couldn't believe my eyes…but it sure works! – SE, NV   Be Prepared For Winter Driving It's a little early for this hint, but not too soon to begin gathering what you need. Save your old liquid laundry detergent bottles, wash them out and let them dry real well. Then, either put in cat litter or sand, put the lid on and put them in the trunk of your car.  Use it when you need a little traction on the ice.  With the screw on lid, you avoid spills and keep the trunk clean…and the handle keeps your hands clean as well. – DS, WY  ...

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The opportunities and costs of life in small communities

One secret about life in small rural communities is that the fewness of numbers has its own rewards. Few is beautiful. Few is beautiful? Isn’t that part of the problem? Well, it is and it isn’t. Many years ago, psychologist Roger Barker studied a small Kansas town. He developed a theory to explain how “undermanned behavior settings” create the circumstance in which people are pushed, coerced, pressured, enlisted, recruited or invited – you choose the term – to participate in basic community or group activities. How does this work? Community institutions require warm bodies to take key roles to maintain a minimal level of community activities and services. For example, imagine an eight or even a seven person baseball team. Everyone has to show up, play harder and do more things. New plays have to be learned. More practice is required. A poor-fielding right fielder is better than no fielder at all. The coach will work with the player and so will the rest of the team. The right fielder feels important because he or she is important. The team would be worse off without him or her. In order to compete, the team experiences more communication, self-correction, growth, teamwork, commitment and unity. Small schools have opportunities. Small rural high schools are an example of this concept. Students who might not be given the time of day in an...

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Drought Conditions Require Openness And Mutual Support

“My husband is so discouraged. I’ve never seen him so down and defeated. I try to get him to talk but he clams right up. He is watching our promising corn and soybean crops dry up and stress out. What can I do to get him to talk? How can I help him?” “My husband is so discouraged. I’ve never seen him so down and defeated. I try to get him to talk but he clams right up. He is watching our promising corn and soybean crops dry up and stress out. What can I do to get him to talk? How can I help him?”   Those questions are on the minds of many farm and ranch women, especially in the Great Plains of the United States and extending east to the corn belt. Not only do they feel the lack of rain but also the drought of words and feelings.   Fighting battles alone.  What an obstacle masculine pride is! Why must a man feel like he has to fight and win his battles alone? Why can’t he share his fears, his doubts and his feelings?   Where is it written that a man has to be strong and perfectly in control at all times? Where did he learn he must protect a woman from reality? Is not she, too, capable of strength, courage and judgment when...

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