Build Momentum

Communities and regions, no matter their starting points, produce and celebrate the small wins and steady progress that fuel hope and persistence.

Every rural community is different, with different mixes of assets – and different starting points. Some rural places have experienced recent significant growth; some have increasing economic, health, and social disparities; some are stagnating or in decline – and any and every combination of those. Especially in rural communities that have been struggling, it is tactically important to select issues and action that can produce visible wins, even if small, that can inspire new energy, ideas, capacity-building, and participation that builds into steady progress. 

This is also true in rural places that appear to be succeeding but where the poor and ignored are doing no better – finding and acting to turn that tide in recognized ways is critical. Celebrating such momentum is critical to continued visioning, engagement, and action to achieve both greater prosperity and equity in the region.


Building Block Evidence

Research suggests that large-scale social issues can be reframed into smaller wins – described as concrete, achievable outcomes – for more effective action.1-3 Evidence suggests this building block is important because both individuals4 and groups5 are motivated by small wins, which can drive future action. Small wins also have the potential to accumulate into more significant change over time.6,7

Celebrating small wins is also a form of community engagement. Examples of celebrating small wins include community events like dinners, parades, or fairs; physical community spaces like murals or community archives. Community engagement has been linked to positive health impacts and stronger self- and collective efficacy.8,9 Community engagement can, in turn, build social capital, which is broadly understood as the resource(s) available through social ties. Social capital has been found to be a predictor of better health outcomes10 and civic participation.11 (Please also see Building Block A: Welcome to the Community and G: Prepare Action-Able Leadership.)

  1. Weick 1984
  2. Termeer and Dewulf 2019
  3. Salo 2022
  4. Amabile and Kramer
  5. Ansell and Gash 2007
  6. Quarshie 2019 
  7. Termeer and Metze 2019
  8. O’Mara-Eves 2013
  9. Butel 2019
  10. Ehsan 2019
  11. Voorberg 2015

Curated ReSources


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Measure Up: A Call to Action

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Environmental Justice Practices & Resources for Rural Communities

New efforts focused on environmental justice, just transitions, corporate stakeholder engagement, scientific conservation efforts, and Indigenous wisdom are helping balance natural ecosystems and strengthen local communities.

Field Items


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SIX WAYS TO INSPIRE MOMENTUM IN YOUR SMALL TOWN

Rural Revival shares list of six things that will help you build momentum, cast vision, and get people excited.


We see the framework as a living document, which necessarily must evolve over time, and we seek to expand the collective ownership of the Thrive Rural Framework among rural equity, opportunity, health, and prosperity ecosystem actors. Please share your insights with us about things the framework is missing or ways it should change.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group