The final article in my analysis of why rural America is shrinking has to do with a growing cultural preference for entertainment experiences and an electronic filter of human relationships through social media. is based on experience, but certainly current lifestyle trends favor urban living over the traditional rural experience.
Case in point is my fondest memory of my youth sitting on the front porch of my grandparents’ house overlooking the bandstand in the center of the town square of a farm community of 1,300 people. I shelled corn, peeled peas, and cleaned fish while listening to Cardinal St. Louis radio. My most magical summer was The 1964 Fold. A year in which the Phillies collapsed in his final two weeks of the baseball season and were overtaken by the frenzied Cardinals. It was an experience that united families and communities across the Midwest.
Growing up in the city, my seven children spent their summers in the hope of listening to the radio and having vain conversations about topics such as religion, politics, world and local news, and sports. My head went blank. My grandson of his 11 asked about the strength of his Wi-Fi signal on the porch and tolerated the scene until access to the gaming console was granted again. Does it sound like I’ve lived his 70 years?
Most of us can sympathize with one side or the other of this huge generation gap. Whether social media, games, exotic vacations, movies, or binge-watching TV shows are any healthier or more constructive than sitting on your doorstep remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Cultural change has had a profound effect on perceived value. of a small community. The “brain drain” of the best and brightest to big jobs in major universities and big cities continues and there is no end in sight.
What can and should rural communities do to address this megatrend that is contributing significantly to population decline? Certainly they cannot compete with the entertainment and shopping facilities of metropolitan areas. Recruiting a Fortune 500 company into our county would be challenging to provide the next generation of world-class job choices. Every effort should be made to make high-speed Internet access widely available throughout the county.
A place that offers community and time for reflection. A place with natural benefits and attendant social and recreational aspects. A place steeped in history and played a key role in one of the most important periods of American history. A place where there is time to love and be loved. Sounds like heaven to me.
We need to be the best Bourbon County we can be. We need to stand by each other, support each other, and foster countywide trust together. One day our culture will again want what we have. In the meantime, we wait, work, pray, build relationships, and build together.