By Katie Drake

The common perception seems to be that change is like a light switch. Someone or something flips that switch on, and then that one “big thing” happens that defines the before and the after.

I see change more like a snowball. It starts with a bunch of small things. Snowflake size things that gain traction as they get rolling and, together, amount to big things.

For me, it has been exciting to see what I like to call “The Snowball Effect” revitalization of many Upstate New York cities like Little Falls.

It’s small things, like the shift in the majority of people speaking positively about their town or city.

Or the person who bought a house in what was considered a run-down neighborhood and fixed it up. Then helped their neighbors organize an effort to clean up and improve their section of town.

Small things, like supporting small businesses and shopping locally.

Volunteers who do everything from picking up garbage on the highway to helping out at one of our city’s non-profits.

Small things like that one person who had an idea then formed or joined a committee to start or build that something.

The expansion of major businesses and the start of new ones.

These small things add up to bigger things, such as the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant that was awarded to Little Falls in 2022 and is certainly a game changer.

Our little city is far from perfect, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you see when you look around?

When you walk down Main Street, do you see all the cool architecture and great places to shop, like Chickweed, White Rose Bakery, Paca Gardens, and Loft 32.

Do you notice the spa, the financial institutions, and the favorite local spots like Ed & Buds, That Little Place on Main, Il Café, Ruggerio’s, or Ed’s Pizza? Or the new businesses like Rock City Center, Nicki Marie’s, or Main Street Mercantile? Do you notice the resilient pillars, like Best Buy Appliances, Rick the Barber, Pohlig’s, and Designs by Shelly, to name a few? Do you see the positive changes in Canal Place with Rock Valley Brewing Company, all the businesses within Rock City Development, Ann Street Deli, Mustard Seed, Little Falls Diamonds, and the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts?

All over our city, local people are stepping up to invest in our community and in people, creating jobs, collaboration, and experiences. Do you see it?

Or are you one of the people who are overheard saying things like, “All the storefronts are empty, and it looks sad,” or “Little Falls will never be what it used to be?”

As we close out 2022, it’s a good time to reflect. We all have moments of negative behavior. Ask yourself, are you mostly a snowball builder or someone who sits back and complains about the work others do? Do you build people up or tear them down?

Are you one of the people actively working to make things in our community better? Putting yourself out there, starting something new, investing money, serving on a committee, volunteering your time, etc.

You can’t drive down the middle of the road. Pick a lane.

If you trend toward the lane of negative behavior, what exactly are you accomplishing? It can’t make you feel good or breed happiness. Are you overcompensating for something? Why are you weighing in after the fact when you didn’t contribute anything? It’s kind of like complaining about the president when you didn’t even vote. Do you even have all the facts? Likely not. This behavior isn’t healthy, helpful, or good.

It’s never too late to put your blinker on and change lanes. You are never too young or too old to build a snowball. Let’s teach our children how to give back to a community that’s given so much to us. It’s a new year, and you can make it a positive one. Let’s do ourselves and our community right.

You could start by correcting negative thoughts (and we all get those). Look for the beauty, the good, and the positive. When you see someone doing something good, publicly praise them and consider giving them constructive feedback in private at an appropriate time. Do bring ideas and solutions. You know what it’s called when you only pose complaints and no solutions, right?

Take note of your timing when giving feedback. During or immediately after a vote, a festival, a submission, or an event isn’t the best practice. Typically, anyone who was involved is already aware of what went wrong, so give them some time to digest, rest up, and get back into the swing of things. The best practice is to bring concerns in person and be sure to thank them for their time and commitment BEFORE logging complaints and opinions. Be ready – if you frame up your concerns kindly, people will want to hear your ideas! You could be making your own snowflakes in no time.

If you are a snowball builder – and you know who you are – those of you who work hard doing big and small things for the benefit of others and not yourself. Thank you for all you do! Keep up the good work. And for goodness sake, don’t listen to the sand castle kickers. The Great Reggie Jackson once said, “They don’t boo nobody’s.”

Continue to inspire, encourage and include others in your work and bring new ideas to help further the positive change of the Snowball Effect in 2023.


Katie Drake moved to Little Falls in 2003 and fell in love with this city. She says she isn’t a writer but a storyteller.

The opportunity to highlight the great people of Little Falls and share her perspectives and some humor from time to time piqued her interest, and here we are.

Just ask her, and she’ll tell you that after growing up in Millers Mills, a population of 25+ (according to the sign), Little Falls was just the right size. Katie is the oldest of two brothers and five sisters.

In 2020 Katie and her best friend Chris began their greatest adventure with the birth of their sweet and sassy son Nolan who makes them laugh every day.

Katie loves to snowmobile, golf, hike, and travel in her free time.

If you have feedback on one of her articles or an idea for a story, please feel free to reach out to Katie at KatherineDrakeLF@gmail.com. She would love to hear from you.

If this article leaves you wanting more, or you are just bored, feel free to check out other articles she has contributed by visiting Katie Drake Archives – My Little Falls.