A Social Network

But The New York Times reporter in town for a conference wanted no part of whatever these farmers and fishermen and miners were conspiring to do. At least she wouldn’t accompany the Ohio Farm Bureau leaders who had traveled to Nova Scotia to get the secret to these “kitchen table clubs.”

It was the 1930s, and Ohio Farm Bureau believed it could make Ohioans’ hard times easier if it could only sway people to work together. Finally, the farm leaders found the answer they’d been looking for.

It turns out there was no subversive political activity in the small Nova Scotia town as the journalist had feared. Instead, it was simply families finding a way to pull themselves out of the economic depression—meeting regularly to talk about what actions they could take to solve their common problems.

The people in the community had started their own banks, built their own houses and bought and sold products cooperatively. And their success was largely due to informal meetings that kept everyone engaged. Ohio Farm Bureau brought that concept back to Ohio and for the next 70 years developed a similar grassroots discussion program, which today is referred to as Community Councils.

Today, these action groups’ purpose is to surface and review current community needs and issues, to arrive at a resolution and then carry out their own solutions to local problems.

Families and friends still meet in living rooms, or local restaurants, or even on Facebook. And they work closely with the county Farm Bureau to help put ideas into action.

Wendy Chrisman of Harrison County has been involved in a Farm Bureau council for years.

“We had just moved to the area. It just was a way to connect, become involved in the community and make some friends,” Chrisman said.

She values that everyone in her council has a common interest but they bring a variety of perspectives.

“We have enough impersonal activities in life today as it is,” she said. “We need to have something personal. It is one of the things we still do as a family.”

To learn how to get involved with the Community Council program or to start your own council, contact your county Farm Bureau.