Not Davos, North Bend

For years, we’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that important things, change-shaping things can only be done by powerful people from elite institutions at invite-only events hosted in coastal cities and ski-resorts. This story. Wow, this story. It is so much in need of changing. It is not only inaccurate. It also diminishes the dignity of millions. For example, those of us from small towns and rural communities have been told time and time again that change doesn’t come from people like us, not from where we come from. In turn, some of us have had trouble speaking out and sharing our vision of the world with those around us. I know I did.

I grew up in a small-town in the southwest corner of Ohio. I remember the first time I was called a “social innovator”. My first thought was “Nah, not me. I don’t have the pedigree.” But, here’s the thing. I did. Just not the kind that our culture always finds merit-worthy. It took years for me to say what it was that I wanted to say. I don’t want you to wait as long.

So, if you are from a small town or a rural community and want to ignite social transformation in your community and beyond, I’m here to tell you that you can. Hell, I’m here to tell you that you are exactly what we need. Your background, path, history, family, community, crazy relatives, the whole tangled mess of your upbringing is a gift. All of it gives you one-of-a-kind ideas, angles, perspectives, and interpretations of our society. All of it gives you a voice that is yours and yours alone. No one can see what you see. No one can create what you are going to create. Because, no one has lived the American experience like you have. And, honest to goodness, right now, our collective tomorrow needs to hear your voice today.

Towards achieving that end, I’m launching The Grassroot Garage – a step-by-step guide for social innovators from small towns and rural communities with something to say. It’s a project building checklist that’s freely available, chronologically ordered and accompanied by tools, resources, and how-to-guides. And, since it’s the start that stops most of us, I’m also offering a free online course for those looking for more guidance with the checklist and a bit of help with dissipating the paralyzing fear that attends the beginning of any new project. 

The Grassroot Garage is for anyone from a small town or rural community who imagines the world differently, imagines it better, more just and livable, more democratic, humane, and beautiful.

Start telling your story, your way.


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my This is the Work newsletter.

Thanks. – shawn


Why “Grassroot” and not “Grassroots”?

Here’s the short story. I wasn’t willing to pay for the “s“. Here’s the long story. When I was looking to buy the domain name for this website, “” was not available. Well, it was. But, only on the secondary market and for a few hundred dollars. I like to work with what I got. So, I bought “” for $12 instead.


Photo by: Kool Cat Photography