The challenges and opportunities vary by the nature of the local economy, demographic trends, and the natural amenities and resources in a rural community. Areas rich in natural amenities such as lakes and forests, mountains, and seashores are in many ways like urban areas with strong markets. They have been attracting second-home buyers and retirees, and sometimes young professionals with ties to the area, and communities are changing with these newcomers. These places, such as in the Northwest, Northeast, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Rocky Mountain West, have long relied on extracting or processing natural resources. Today their populations are growing, and energetic young people and retirees are building on the potential for “heritage economies,” transforming old natural resource economies into new, more sustainable enterprises.
In every case, the biggest challenge to rural community development success is human capital: finding the people with the talents, skills, and energy needed to bring about comprehensive development in rural communities. Rural community developers provide regional leadership and collaborate with a wide range of players to achieve this comprehensive development. What they need from policymakers in their state capitals and Washington, DC, are committed resources and basic investment in education and infrastructure, including broadband. Because they take a comprehensive approach to development, they also need support from foundations to fund their innovations in leadership and capacity development, and their work on policy. Foundation investment is at an all-time low in rural communities, and rural developers struggle to maintain their comprehensive programs.
This means that what we know about rural settlement is substantially less in comparison to other areas of archaeology, but not that rural settlement is therefore less meaningful.
.such is my idea of happiness.” (Tolstoy) The differences between the lifestyles of the rural and the urban have been written into literature, primarily poetry since the very idea of the city was developed.
Cynthia “Mil” Duncan is research director of AGree. From 2004-2011 she was professor of sociology and founding director of the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, an interdisciplinary research center focused on vulnerable families and sustainable development in rural America. From 2000-2004 she served as the Ford Foundation’s director of...
In preparing this short piece, I talked with a number of rural development practitioners to get their perspective on the challenges and opportunities their organizations encounter. What follows is my distillation of their experience and reflections.2 Like their urban counterparts, community development groups in rural America are lending to and investing in businesses, housing, and community institutions, providing technical assistance and working to build capacity in distressed or struggling communities. However, the challenges they face, and the strategies they employ, differ from those in urban areas. Rural community development practitioners are working in communities that are geographically isolated, with long distances between relatively sparsely populated communities. Human capital is much more limited, and often the same key leaders play multiple roles. Financial capital and supporting institutions are also much more scarce. For these reasons, rural developers are less likely to be operating in a specialized niche and concentrating solely on financial transactions. They are more likely to approach development comprehensively, and they increasingly are working on a regional scale.
Rural community development organizations provide critical leadership in communities that are hard pressed. They bring resources, financial and technical assistance, and they bring innovation that is rooted in local history and culture. They are “classic” economic developers, looking for collaboration, building institutional capacity, and taking a comprehensive approach that recognizes politics and long-standing relationships but that also pushes community leaders and entrepreneurs toward positive social change.
These physical factors have “people” implications. Far and away the biggest challenge rural development practitioners face is the need for greater human capital—for more leaders, more entrepreneurs, more skilled workers, and even more economic development professionals to work in their own organizations. Because leaders in rural communities play multiple roles, the loss of one “spark plug” can devastate a small community. The crunch for people also means that organizational capacity is often thin. There are fewer banks and fewer specialized lenders in those banks. Equally important, there are few, if any, corporate partners. Moreover, community development practitioners often must help local leaders move from the old, more stable economy they once relied on to new, more dynamic and less predictable economies of the future.
If development was referred as having access to available resources, we see that whether it is access to clean water, income, health care, good and clean environment, or education then rural areas would not be at par....
Research has shown that schools in rural areas have far less resources for students interested in attending college, providing less opportunity for students pursuing higher education.
In the 1960s, in some chronically distressed areas like Appalachia and the Delta, 50–75 percent of the population lived in poverty. Conditions in these areas were appalling, with substandard housing, one-room school houses with underprepared teachers, and limited access to health care for the poor. Families struggled to put food on the table.1 Rural poverty still goes hand in hand with low educational attainment. In chronic poverty areas, one-fourth or more of working aged adults have not completed high school. Fully one-half of rural Americans live in these high-poverty areas.
Because of the lack of medical services the physical health of those who live in rural areas may not have access to many in urban areas take advantage of....
While many would be content to rest on their laurels, Downing continued to produce a prodigious amount of work. His Treatise went through multiple editions. He edited the Horticulturist, a journal of “Rural Art and Rural Taste,” and wrote a book featuring plans of cottages and villas. Downing attended the first American Congress of Fruit Growers (the precursor to the American Pomological Society) in October 1848 at which time he was designated chair of its Fruit Committee.