How to Turn Your Intimidating Ideas into (Less Intimidating) Small Actions


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

You’ve likely read or heard us use the term “strong citizen.” A strong citizen is someone who gets involved in the life of their community, doing whatever they can to make their city or town stronger—one small action at a time.

The actions look different for different citizens. For example, it could look like turning unused space into a park, putting Strong Towns principles into action in local government, or starting a neighborhood association.

Though the actions are different, the origin is the same: an idea that—with the help of our neighbors, colleagues, and neighborhood organizations—was put to action. But there’s a catch: brainstorming the ideas is easy; navigating the ideas and deciding which to implement first, however, can be more challenging.

We picture in our minds the finished product—the reclaimed alley, the parklet—but struggle to take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

In this episode, I chat with Jenna Jarvis—Strong Towns member and winner of our Why I Joined Strong Towns fall member drive contest—who’s experienced first-hand the challenges of turning big ideas into small actions, specifically, forming a committee for an on-going adopt-a-spot project to refurbish bus stops in St. Louis.

As you’ll learn in this episode, Jenna decided to start small, doing what she could as an individual by picking up trash. Then, as the idea progressed, Jenna got her friends—fellow ultimate frisbee folk at the St. Louis Ultimate Association—to permanently adopt the spot, with more bus stops in the pipeline.

In this episode, Jenna shares how you can decide which of our ideas to implement first, including how to start small, how to get your peers involved, and—most important—how to keep the momentum going as you plan new actions.

(Top photo via flickr)