At the moment, Eclogiselle is one of the many websites run by Doreen Traylor. I hope to eventually turn it into a viable business offering planning and community development services for small towns, especially in the Coastal Washington region.

The back story is that I moved to a small town in Coastal Washington and began attending public meetings to get involved and in hopes of networking and establishing an earned income on the ground. It soon became apparent that I knew a lot more about community development work than anyone with whom I was interacting.

At one meeting, a city representative said they were actively looking to hire a city manager and the first person to whom they made a job offer declined it and took a similar job elsewhere making more money. From what I gather, this is the norm for small towns: They have trouble hiring talented people because such people can get similar jobs that pay better in bigger cities.

I don't happen to like living in big cities. I like small towns and lots of greenery.

I have a strong educational background for this kind of work, including world class training in GIS and I'm a few classes short of a Bachelor's in Environmental Resource Management with a concentration in Housing, but I am unlikely to ever get a job as an urban planner or similar because almost all jobs in this field require a driver's license.

Due to my health situation and eyesight problems, I no longer have a driver's license. So pursuing this work as an entrepreneur is my only hope of working professionally in the field for which I trained.

Since smaller communities have trouble hiring good people, a lot of the existing resources are aimed at what works for bigger cities because most people with planning experience work in bigger cities. In the US, Main Street America tries to fill this gap by encouraging small towns to do a somewhat organized grass roots type thing.

For very small towns relying on enthusiastic volunteers, their program is likely somewhat helpful. By the time the town is large enough to be required by the program to hire a full-time paid Executive Director, you run into the same problem you see with other planning jobs: It's hard to find good talent. Even if you are very dedicated and talented, it can be nigh impossible to get good results when the available resources don't fit your needs because they are geared to a larger community.

Due to the above situation, I am finding that there are few good resources that are a really good fit for the needs of small towns. Eclogiselle has been going slow in part because this situation requires me to do a great deal of research and come up with answers that will work for small communities because there is a dearth of good info in this space.

I see a service and information gap for small towns that creates inherent challenges in doing planning and development work. If you do such work in a small town, I hope we can be allies and I hope I can help you do your job better.

5 February 2023

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