A Multi-Local Manifesto

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I recently decided to move from Sioux Falls to Omaha. The decision was made rather quickly and executed within a month.

When I announced the move to my adopted Sioux Falls community I was greeted with great support and encouragement, mingled with some disappointment. I reassured my community that this was not a goodbye, just a geographic shift. I was met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Why was this?

As humans, it seems ingrained in us to find our tribe and build a community around them. That community is traditionally tied to a geographic location (a city). This is the way we are used to things being done. Our families, lives, and work all are located in that community. With the advent of internet, maybe we work remotely. Still, when it comes to community growth we tend to see surrounding cities as competition.

Our self-limiting beliefs

I propose that we need to stop looking at the next city over as “competition” and start looking at them as opportunities to collaborate. I think as a region our goal shouldn’t be to steal talent from neighboring cities. Our goal should be to retain our talented individuals that head out to one of the coasts to seek “greater opportunity.” Personally, I can’t count the amount of times I have been asked, “So when are you moving to San Francisco?”

While I love both San Francisco and my people there, the reality is that I am rooted in the Midwest. As a Minnesota farm kid, who has adopted first South Dakota and now Nebraska, I enjoy the ability to travel between these states and their communities with a budget of around $60 for gas.

Solutions to the same problems

There has been only one real frustration I have felt about moving between multiple communities–and it’s not the driving time. I have noticed much of the community objectives for both cities have strong overlap. Yet they do not seem to be speaking to one another about the ideas and solutions that they generate.

The following is what I have noticed by becoming local to both Sioux Falls and Omaha. There are leaders who operate as anchors within each city for reaching community objectives. They are all brilliant minds solving problems in interesting ways. Both communities are growing and healthy.

Now, suppose for a moment, those brilliant minds working on parallel problems had an opportunity to meet. Share their obsessions with one another. Ask questions to each other like, “Do you encounter ‘x’?” or “How did you solve ‘y’ and what was the outcome?” Could you imagine the creativity this would spark as they each went back to their respective communities?

Shifting our perspective

I can personally testify to the surge of energy I get from bouncing back and forth between my two localities. By shifting my perspective frequently, I am always able to stay fresh, and keep my ideas moving forward. Imagine if entire communities of thought leaders were experiencing this benefit? What might that spark for our entire region?

We as a region could band together to make our communities more interesting and culturally diverse. We could support and retain new talent and businesses more quickly by cross-pollinating. I am sure of this. If the largest barrier to this is shifting our mindset and removing the psychological boundaries we have placed on our localities, what are we waiting for?

My new personal manifesto I invite you to consider:

Embrace new communities.
Seek out like-minded individuals.
Share your ideas.
Get inspired.
Share your struggles.
Remove your barriers.
Take a step back.
Learn about something new.
Cross-pollinate.
Develop support.
Overcome the distance.
Shift your perspective.
Embrace creative communication.
Dive back into your obsession with renewed energy.
Travel distances and miles.
Come back.
Do not let geography be your limitation.
Become multi-local.

Amy Gehling grew up in Minnesota, adopted Sioux Falls for the last three years, and has recently transplanted to Omaha. Amy’s professional background is in design and brand experience. She believes strongly in the power of creating a community of support by developing humanity through experiences. You can follow along with her at Story Seven.