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Overcoming the Urban-Rural Chasm, for Everybody’s Sake
The chasm between cities and rural areas, including small towns, shows up in at least three ways: politically, culturally, and economically. The political divide is much discussed of late, but that debate itself often mirrors the disconnect that created the problem in the first place.
How to Build a Village From the Ground Up — Right Where You Live, Right Now
We already know how to be independent, needing nothing from anyone, paying for whatever we want or need using hard-earned money that we spend our lives to get. For we were born into this society and taught that this is what was normal and right.
Changemaker: Euneika Rogers-Sipp and her resolute stewardship in the Black Belt South
Euneika’s hometown sits on the northern edge of the Black Belt, a region once known for its soil, so dark and rich it could grow anything. What happened to the land is a story in itself, one that mirrors that of the African American people who made it prosper through their forced labor.
Using Art to Facilitate Social Cohesion in the North Fork Valley of Colorado
Ranchers, orchardists, marijuana growers, artists and rugged sportsman all make their homes here, and today Paonia is home to a changing cultural landscape, as it has been ‘discovered’ as a spot with little regulation, a mild climate, abundant recreation, and a healthy arts district.
Action Removes Doubt: A Drive Towards Community Health in Allen County Kansas
Standing in front of an audience of rural leaders and changemakers in Durham, N.C. Toland holds up a large glass jar asking the audience to identify it. It is a pickle jar, “Otherwise known as a rural healthcare financing mechanism.” he quips.
Island Housing Trust
For those who live on Mount Desert Island, a major New England tourist destination, the close of a summer season elicits a bittersweet reflection on the calendar.
Beyond the Valley
There is a small community, tucked away in the “driftless” region of Wisconsin, that is combating the widely known tastes of corn syrup and Folgers commonly associated with rural America.
Update from Thoreau College
Growing Seasons at Thoreau College is a 9-month, residential program for young adults seeking to challenge and cultivate themselves through an immersive, holistic curriculum designed to engage each participant as a whole human being. Each Growing Season is organized around a distinct theme of broad contemporary and perennial significance, this year’s being HUMANS & NATURE.
Viroqua, the county seat of Vernon county, sits perched on a high plain, overlooking the meandering hills in the “driftless” region of southwestern Wisconsin. The glaciers of the last ice age stopped short of this area, resulting in a landscape of winding rivers, meandering valleys and rolling hills peppered with sandstone bluffs.
Mineral Point, WI
It was just supposed to be an ordinary vacation—a brief escape from a job and a drive with a friend. But an unplanned detour that landed me in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, proved to be a life-changing event.
Though reachable by plane and boat, there is only one way to get to Homer, Alaska by car: the 138-mile Sterling Highway which diverges from the singular southbound route, the Seward Highway, 90 miles south of Anchorage.
Where else but in Floyd can you learn from an old-timer how to forage ginseng one day and then meet Wavy Gravy – the Woodstock clown with an ice-cream flavor named after him – in town for FloydFest the next?
Thirty-six years ago, when song-leader and homesteader Liz Rog —on a serendipitous college visit with a friend— first stepped foot into the Midwestern hamlet of Decorah, IA, she knew with immediate, visceral certitude that this was the place she would make her home.
Although Truckee falls outside the determined parameters for RealSmallTowns.com, we found ourselves there after being turned back on Donner Pass in a spring storm for lack of tire chains, and after spending a single night here, we were in love with the place and opted to spend another two.
For those travelers who long for the beauty and adventure offered in Utah’s many National Parks but wish to escape the crowds, Torrey, UT offers up a great escape.
The hard winters, relative isolation, lack of a ski resort, and resistance to high levels of development allow this town to maintain its sense of authenticity, and there is an earthy feel to it.
Nevada City, CA
For my tastes, Nevada City is pretty darn close to a perfect town. It harbors an engaged and active citizenship, reverence for the arts and nature, commitment to good, local food, strong community leadership, a pleasing climate, and of course, beautiful Sierra scenery
Red Lodge, MT
Though it seems impossible that a place serving as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park could maintain unadulterated local character, the tiny hamlet of Red Lodge, MT has somehow managed to do just that.
If you long for a place of peaceful solitude, if you love alpine hamlets, if you yearn for the zen of fishing, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, backpacking, horseback riding, nordic skiing, snowshoeing or simply relaxing with a good book, you are sure to love Stanley, ID.
For any traveler who loves the outdoors, but is looking for something more down to earth than the offerings off of I-70, Salida is a mandatory stop. The town itself is charming and laid back, while also vibrant.
Assuming that it would be too small to justify a stop during my aggressive trip schedule, I almost skipped this charming, unincorporated village during this go-around.
Medicine Park, OK
Driving southwest on Highway 44 from Oklahoma City, one sees a small cluster of craggy mountains poking up through the otherwise vast plains of tranquil landscape.
If your interests lean towards green technologies and building, future development and sustainability, community outreach, or simply Midwestern endurance and grace, it is worth a trip to Greensburg, KS.
Yellow Springs, OH
Driving into Yellow Springs was akin to having dinner with favorite friends. The atmosphere was not so much shiny and polished, as it was thoughtful, comfortable, intellectual, and welcoming. If the town were a house it would be big and old, filled with books and newspapers, comfortable reading chairs, a crackling fire, and a prominent piano. A large pot of soup would simmer on the stove.
Silver City, New Mexico
The sleepy nature of Silver City is most likely the result of the the fact that it is far off the beaten path —four hours from Albuquerque and three from Tuscon; nestled in the heart of the Gila National Forest.
Sitting on Penobscot Bay, at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River, the town of Belfast has a long and varied history, including fur-trading post, lucrative shipbuilding and shoe manufacturing center, seafood and poultry-processing hubs.
Over and over again, I am surprised and delighted by a small corner of the world where people have come together to affect change and create alternative realities. Fairfield, IA stands out in this regard, and I consider it my genuine good fortune to have literally stumbled upon it.
The Secret Sauce
Though reachable by plane and boat, there is only one way to get to Homer, Alaska by car: the 138-mile Sterling Highway...
Where else but in Floyd can you learn from an old-timer how to forage ginseng one day and then meet Wavy Gravy – the Woodstock clown with an ice-cream flavor named after him – in...