Ellinwood native Basil Dannebohm presented a program, “Strength in Numbers: Collaboration on the Plains,” this week to a group from across the state, offering lessons in community building.
Currently a resident of Jetmore, and after growing up in Ellinwood, Dannebohm returned back to the state of Kansas after working jobs in Denver, Kosovo and northern California.
“I always had the dream of going to a larger city,” he said. “I had Dorothy Gale syndrome. It was healthy to look around.” He decided it was time to return to Kansas after living in those places, after sitting for two hours on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and after enduring major weaponry in Kosovo.
“There’s no place like home,” said Dannebohm. He told the audience it wasn’t a bad thing to let young people explore the world.
Audience members were encouraged to make a difference on an individual level. “Embrace the young people that come into your city,” said Dannebohm. “It was hard to say I’m coming back.”
“Who are we?” he said. “We’re average citizens who want to make a difference. We’re people who care about our own and care about the state.
One audience member spoke of making a difference to her community by placing flowers in the downtown area.
Basil then presented “thought nuggets” to group.
He encouraged audience members to get know local economic directors, county commissioners, and elected officials who volunteer time for civic responsibilities that are not always easy and who face criticism when things go wrong.
“Believe in your relevance, your community and your communities’ relevance. Fight back in a positive way,” he said. Although the problems are pretty much universal and include housing, jobs,
A panel was present to answer questions and provide guidance to the audience. Von Rothenberger of north central Kansas spoke of the great success of the Lucas toilet with visitors from five states and many YouTube hits.
The community is also trying a photography festival. “There is no festival like it in Kansas,” Rothenberger said. “We’re getting hundreds of entries.”
He continued, “This is what a town of 400 can do.”
Patsy Terrell, board member from Hutchinson, said, “Third Thursday was started by three guys on Facebook.”Third Thursday is an art and music walk in Hutchinson that communities throughout the state have tried to emulate.
“Embrace your awesomeness,” said Dr. Amber Campbell Hibbs of Manhattan and also a member of the panel.
“So much happens by chance,” said panel member Roger Hrabe, Rooks County economic director. “The community needs to be ready when opportunity knocks.”
With his ability to see the big picture and the fine details, Dannebohm had some concluding thoughts. “You have to make it fun to live in your community,” said Basil. “Always remember to say thank you.”
His web site is www.dannebohm.com, and he is available for further speaking engagements.