RuralX Inspires Tripp Duo

Posted on August 16, 2017

Paula Jensen
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#thinkbigandtakeaction  — Something big is happening in the small town of Tripp, South Dakota.

The ball started rolling when Bryan Bietz attended his first Tripp Area Community Foundation meeting.

“Bryan came home and told me he had been elected President, and we both kind of laughed because it had been his very first meeting. Neither of us had experience with community development, however, we both knew we wanted to do more for our community,” explains his wife, Shawn, a local veterinarian. “I started Googling rural development in South Dakota and Dakota Resources popped up, which led me to the RuralX event in Aberdeen. After exploring the website, reading reviews and watching the RuralX video, we knew we needed to go.”

Shortly after discovering RuralX online, Bryan received a free ticket from the South Dakota Community Foundation because of his role in the Tripp community. The Bietz’s decided to attend the event together, so Shawn bought a ticket too.

“We were excited about the opportunity to meet people who could help us help our town. We had no idea we would learn as much as we did,” says Shawn.

A few days after returning home from RuralX, the couple sat down and made a list of everything they had learned and all the ideas that made the most sense for the Tripp community. They put the list on their refrigerator and decided to get to work.

“The first thing we did was follow Jason Roberts’ advice. We needed a project identity so we created the Tripp Action Group (TAG) and even made a little logo. We started a Facebook group and began by asking everyone what they wanted to see happen in Tripp. That first post generated 40 or 50 positive comments and the whole thing just blew up from there,” she says.

After the overwhelming success of the Facebook group (over 100 people are already members in a town with a population of 638), Shawn and Bryan decided to host a gathering at the local bar and grill. Eighteen people attended and exciting conversations were happening all over the room.

“People had ideas, they just needed a platform to share them,” says Shawn. “Before we left that meeting, we decided to create some action items and came up with several that we are working on right now. It’s just crazy how fast things have come together since RuralX!”

Some of the action items include:

  • Hosting a community tailgate and kickball tournament on September 29th in order to bring people together and raise funds to help with a neighborhood clean-up effort.  People have already volunteered to work concessions, provide baked goods, spearhead the registration, design and distribute posters and more.
  • Launching a neighborhood clean-up drive and Main street beautification efforts using volunteers and funds raised through the kickball tournament. Volunteers are being recruited.
  • Creating more family-friendly activities in town, starting with the formation of a MOMS group that will meet once a month to do crafts, bake together, play games and other activities. Other ideas included Christmas caroling, summer youth rec programs, bingo nights, movie nights and more.
  • Renovating the old ballroom in Tripp to use for a variety of community activities and revitalizing spaces such as the bowling alley, swimming pool and theater.
  • Implementing an annual celebration in town with a fair atmosphere and activities for every age.

“Jason Roberts was SO right,” explains Shawn. “We started by sharing an idea and people showed up to help. We’re excited to be part of a community that wants to be involved, because we couldn’t do any of this on our own. I’ve just been thrilled over the response. All the RuralX talk about gathering a crowd and taking small steps to make things happen is working! We are definitely excited about what’s to come.”

All of us at Dakota Resources are humbled by rural change makers like Shawn and Bryan Bietz and the entire Tripp community. This story is the reason why we do what we do—and a shining example for success after RuralX. We can’t wait to see what happens next, which is why we will be following the Tripp community and the Bietz’s over the next year to report on their progress.

And remember, if they can do it, you can too!


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