I’m frequently asked “what do you do, Sarah?”.
It hasn’t always been an easy question to answer.
Largely because what I do today has arrived as a fusion of many different elements of a corporate career, diverse life experience and rather an extraordinary twist of fate (but if I’m completely honest, I guess I always feared pigeonholing myself).
The short answer to the above question is this: I’m a speaker for a living, a mentor for a purpose, and a champion of change for rural communities.
I have always been passionate about empowering the next generation to step up and play a more active role in shaping the future of their community, through whatever means I can engage them (industry peak bodies, sporting clubs, schools, community groups, government).
Underpinning all of this — and probably the greatest imprint on my narrative, full stop — is my upbringing in rural Australia.
When I returned to my roots in Eyre Peninsula SA in 2012 and saw how the region had contracted and communities had declined since my departure as a teenager, I felt a strong need to do something about it.
It was at this time in my life that I began to view my professional skillset through a social impact lens. It made me reframe my perspective as a mentor, and really challenged me to think deeper about what community development actually meant.
So what does that make me?
My name is Sarah Prime, and I’m a Social Entrepreneur. I specialise in rural contraction, decline and exodus, and am a champion of change for rural revitalisation.
Lateral logic, critical thinking, systems thinking, human centred design – I thrive on this stuff – and I use whatever I learn to empower others to recognise and strive for their human potential, then I attempt to show them how they can apply it to a cause greater than the individual.
If you hadn’t already picked up on it, I am on a mission to create a social revolution.
Not the kind with guns, but the kind that empowers rural communities to move beyond an autopilot holding pattern of survival, toward a time of sustainable social and economic prosperity.
I would love nothing more than for people who don’t live in rural areas, to understand why these places are still ‘relevant’, and how dependent on them they actually are.
I work hard to increase empathy within and for small rural communities, because I firmly believe they deserve to be recognised as valuable contributors to society and deliberate, liveable destinations (as opposed to relics of a bygone era).
I strive to position small towns to benefit from the great social capital and lifestyle opportunities they offer, by challenging people in higher population densities to reimagine their sense of place, recognise their power of choice, and move to a rural area so that they can see what they are missing out on.
Most of all, I want to see rural communities revitalise from within. That’s why I spend a lot of time and energy teaching people in those communities problem-solving from the perspective of innovation and entrepreneurship, and promoting the critical need to reinvest in a value system of volunteerism (a powerful tool in developing community resilience and social cohesion).
If they can make their own community more resilient and sustainable through their efforts to adapt to change, then I will happily offer them a platform to promote their ideas and solutions, to create shared value for rural communities right around the world.
Because if we do this, it will serve to create a Global Rural Community that grows smarter, stronger and more agile every single day.
I’m sure to many this will seem idealistic (things often do, from the sidelines). But I’m here in the thick of it, and I’m not perturbed by anyone else’s judgements or expectations.
I do what I do because I feel a sense of urgency to prevent more rural communities from reaching a tipping point of no return. And because I genuinely love it.
I am, however, open to domain knowledge, experience, and generosity of spirit that other people might like to contribute to this journey I’m on.
So if you share any of the same passions or ideals – I’d love to connect.
If you know of a rural community that has completely reinvented itself, reinvigorated, revitalised or repositioned itself to thrive once again, I would really love to hear about them. Please leave me your comments at the end of this post, or contact me directly via email at email@example.com.
And if you’re looking for a speaker on the topic of championing change; passing a legacy on to the next generation; or reimagining the potential of rural communities; hit me up (because this is what pays the bills and makes it possible for me to keep this journey going)!
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