About Real Small Towns

“RealSmallTowns is a tapestry of community commitment woven through stories of people and place”

In an effort to reframe the dominant narrative about rural America (losing population, clannish, and conventional to a fault,) RealSmallTowns is working to create a network of small, rural towns that defy these classifications.

Through storytelling and the sharing of good ideas, RealSmallTowns highlights small communities that are thriving both economically and socially. In a time when many towns are dying or fading in vitality, these towns have found a way to blend the rural values of a hard-work ethic, neighborliness and strength of character with an openness to new people and fresh ideas. Their resilience is a result of people working together to create strong local economies with many independently-owned businesses, embracing sustainable practices in agriculture, energy and food systems, and creating strong communities where the stability of past generations makes room for new thinkers, entrepreneurs and artists who can now share in the pride and ownership of their town.

The work of RealSmallTowns involves stitching together a curated collection of stories, focusing on communities that are thriving in the face of environmental, economic, and social challenge through creativity, connection and cooperation. We also emphasize the opportunities that ordinary citizens have to make a difference, calling attention to the idea that many small offerings can build into transformative change. We reveal the leading edge in rural America helping to inspire other small communities that are struggling, creating an informational network of progressive small towns around the country, and offering a more nuanced narrative of rural America for those who live in the city. There has never been a more important time for this kind of storytelling.

Last, but not least, RealSmallTowns offers town profiles and practical tips for travelers, highlighting small, local businesses and the best places to eat, stay, and play.

Why do we think this is relevant and important work? First, because we believe in the power of stories, and hope that those featured on the pages of RealSmallTowns will help promote a sense of hope and inspire others towards action. Although most of these stories depict ordinary lives, they demonstrate the difference that small actions by everyday people can make.

In the end, we hope that the site will be used for travel & re-location, human interest, and most importantly, as a way for people and communities of all kinds to network with each other and glean inspiration.

Nice To Meet You — Come And Visit

—Sheila Sherwin
Viroqua, WI