Not everyone sees a future for small towns. That’s clear from media reports that question the future of small towns and articles that talk about what’s wrong with rural people. It’s clear that rural people are assumed to be less ambitious than urban people. Small towns are often mentioned as some place that humanity should leave behind in the inevitable march of progress and urbanization.
People in our own town reinforce this idea that we have no future. They compare us to their version of the past and say things like, “I remember when I was a kid, this town had so many stores downtown and now there’s nothing.”
Even when we’re personally confident about the future of our own town, we’re left wondering whether it’s the destiny of all small towns to die out eventually.
At SaveYour.Town, we see things differently. We know that small towns as a whole aren’t going anywhere. We won’t all pack up and move to the big city next year, and we know for a fact that small towns are actually necessary for the future of our society.
Small towns are necessary. Small towns have a future.
Added together, rural areas and small towns are critical to our society. Rural areas make up 85% or more of the land and one in five people in the United States. You have to add in small towns on top of that, because any town over 2,500 is usually counted as urban, not rural. Rural communities and small towns are far too diverse to represent fairly in a single negative story.
There are at least five reasons that small towns have a future.
Rural people play a key role in farming and food production. Even with advances in urban agriculture, most of the land for food production is away from the big cities. We need rural people to be the farmers and ranchers so society can eat.
Small town people play a key role energy and natural resources. From oil and gas, to timber, to solar and wind, metals and mining, even our water supply and the clean air around us, almost all natural resources are located in rural areas. Production and development of any of our natural resources will need the support of people living in small towns.
We play a key role in protecting wildlife and conservation areas. We all want to have natural places, protected and supported. We want appropriate development and recreation opportunities. We know that research shows being in nature makes us healthier and happier. We need small towns to support those wild places.
Rural has always been innovative. Necessity breeds innovation. Small towns and rural places are the perfect testing grounds for the future. Rural people are already used to self-guiding vehicles in mining and farming. Our wide open rural spaces are currently hosting further experiments in automated vehicles, drones and UAVs. All kinds of technology trials are going on in rural places right now. We are helping establish the techniques and rules that make broader adoption possible.
Finally, small towns play a key role in growing strong people. Countless national leaders and people who have changed the world for the better in all fields have credited their small town upbringing for their character and strength. We are resourceful. We have a strong sense of community. We survive when things get tough. We’re resilient. Rural places grow strong people.