Rewriting the rural narrative
June 10, 2014 by Blandin Foundation
Last week, more than 150 rural dwellers drove dozens of miles to the Center on Small Towns Symposium. The topic this year: the rural narrative. The objective: change it!
University of Minnesota Extension Researcher Ben Winchester opened with a positive message: people DO want to live in rural communities. Migration patterns show that rural Minnesota is experiencing a “brain gain” of folks 30-49 years who are making the move from urban to rural. This isn’t a new idea to us. In our 2012 at Home report, we featured research from Winchester and paired it with a story of a young woman who returned to her home community, with her family, to become an art teacher. This story is happening over and over in communities across the rural Midwest.
While brain gain isn’t a hot-off-the-press idea, less than 60 people have written about it, says Winchester. Migration patterns offer rural communities the right frame to start revitalizing the rural narrative. As Winchester says, “We cannot continue to portray rural success as the exception.”
With that thought in mind, this week we’re going to offer a series of reflections on what we learned at this year’s Symposium. We will feature a number of rural initiatives that are taking on the challenge to rewrite the rural narrative through innovative ideas, strong leadership and an unapologetic approach to refocusing on rural’s greatest asset – its people.
We hope you enjoy! Please leave a comment if you know of other communities doing great things to rewrite the rural narrative.
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