Before I begin posting situational blog content, I want to take some time to set-up my background. To start this off, I’m going to address “Why the red barn?” As I was preparing to launch this website, I told my husband I had a vision of streamlined content and a red barn. Specifically, the rough barn siding, with red paint peeling off.  Why is this visual so important to me?

Barns are a part of life growing up in a small town. I lived next door to my grandparents, who had a working farm until I was 8 years old. At that point, the land was leased to another local farmer, and eventually, the land and property were auctioned off.  I have vivid memories of playing in the barn while my grandpa and dad worked on the tractors. I remember the feeling of the fine dirt from the floors – I liked to sweep it into piles and can remember the consistency of the dirt. Every spring it seemed like there was a new litter of kittens born in the barn. That led to hunts for the mother cat and kittens. Some of them turned into pets for my grandparents. Many just went off into the woods.

I was also at my grandparents house the day their large barn fell down. Yes, it literally fell down off of its supports. (I have a separate post planned to tell that story in more detail.) That barn was then salvaged and my dad used the siding to finish our basement. All of my teenage years of hanging out in the basement happened surrounded by that red barn.

During college, the barn continued to be a symbol and reminder of where I’m from. I hosted a group of college friends at my house for a weekend. One of my friends commented that “I knew we must be getting close to your house when we started seeing basketball hoops on the sides of barns”. My parents still chuckle about that comment today. I never thought about basketball hoops on barns being unique until that moment.

Today, a picture of my grandparent’s farm (the one featured in this post) – including the red barn – hangs in my dining room. It was one of the first photos that my husband and I had professionally framed when we moved into our home. In some ways, much like I had a vision for this website – I had a vision for that dining room that centers on that photo.

We drove home to Republic, Ohio this weekend to celebrate Easter. The landscape and barns have changed since I’ve lived there. Many barns have fallen down like the one on my grandparent’s farm. Others have been been reinforced and renovated. Barns are similar to other things in our life – some stand the test of time and others are taken down to make way for new.

Small Town Leadership Lesson: The next time you see an old barn, remember that it has a history. It was the foundation of a family’s livelihood and the basis for childhood memories. Think about what the equivalent of the red barn is for you – and ask those around you what theirs is. This is a great opportunity to discuss your history and places that were formative for you. In a world where a “hey, how are you”, only gets you a “great” or “I’m okay”, asking a more thoughtful question like this will help you form a tighter knit community and closer connection with others.



Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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