In October I attended a session and the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits/Foundations conference on how to build on assets in rural communities. The session’s panel shared some interesting examples of how their rural communities had uncovered new resources to help meet their needs. For instance, one non-profit organization described how they had been able to secure a phone system donation from a local company that had upgraded to a new phone system; another organization described how they had been able to shape a fundraising event around board members' landscaping expertise. I felt there were even more possibilities to be uncovered when considering the assets of rural communities, especially in the challenge of retooling your thinking to seeing positives in (what you thought) were negatives. I was reminded of this session the other day during a discussion with clients from northwest Minnesota. They were describing some of their successes in bringing together service providers to take a regional view of the service system. They have found innovation, efficiencies, improved communication, new ways to share expertise, additional power to secure funding and many other advantages from working together. This struck me as a great example of how a negative – funding-strapped individual organizations – could become a positive – an innovative and effective system of care. I can think of another example from a project I worked on this year for the University of Minnesota extension service. The small town of New York Mills, Minnesota, used their small town charm, resident energy, precious local dollars and beautiful Minnesota countryside assets to support an arts center and artists’ retreat program. Events associated with both provide fun learning and social opportunities for residents young and not-so-young, support local and national artists, and draw regional, national and even international attention. I personally find it a fun, and important, challenge to really try to creatively rethink what assets communities have, and how to build on them. In many ways, the process can be similar in a rural or urban community and can be a great reason to bring community members together.