The Speaker with a Positive View of Rural

 Becky McCray in Downtown Alva, Oklahoma. Photo by Colton Foote

Do rural areas have a future?

As a speaker who talks about rural and small towns, I get asked what exactly qualifies as a small town. I usually answer 10,000 and under in population. And to be a really small town, I’m talking under 1,000. We also have a lot of similarities with smaller cities, those communities over 10,000 but under 100,000. We’re all used to being dismissed and ignored in the global everything-is-urban perspective.

Can small towns be saved? Should they be saved?

What we hear from the media and the prevailing view we’ve been raised with is amazingly negative about rural and small towns. Small towns are dying; urbanization is the future; if you have any ambition, you’ll move to the big city. I disagree.

Small towns have a future.

Prosperous rural areas are necessary for at least three reasons.

  • Food. The vast majority of our food is grown or raised in rural areas. 
  • Natural resources. Small towns are key to mining, minerals, oil and gas, wind energy, drinking water, timber and every other natural resource you can think of.
  • Conservation. To conserve and protect natural areas, you’re going to need rural people.

This doesn’t mean your small town will automatically thrive if you just let fate take its course. You can shape the future of your town. You don’t need some outside expert to “save” you. You already have a lot of the rural wisdom it takes to thrive in even the toughest times. You just need some practical steps to get started on now.

The best way to improve your local prosperity is through locally-owned small businesses.

Local small businesses are statistically associated with higher average income, lower poverty levels, less crime and better health. Local business owners are key stakeholders in rural communities.

And all rural people can support other rural businesses with their money. Shop local and buy local campaigns help keep more prosperity within your community.

Do small towns have a future? It’s up to us. We can’t control everything, but we can decide right now to take action to shape our own rural future.

This is why I am a speaker, to share my positive view of rural people and places. The future of rural and small towns matters to me. If you could use a positive view of rural at your event, let’s talk.

My 10 minute talk on “Do small towns have a future?” from the SmallTown State of NOW Conference

Next… more video and audio on the Media page.

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