The Paradox of Rural Community

It’s a truism that rural communities tend to be more tightly-knit. We think of cities as places full of strangers and countrysides as places where “everyone knows everyone.” This is true to a great degree.

But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Communities can be stronger in the country. But they’re also harder to join or to make from scratch. People who have lived in the countryside for a long time may trust each other but be quite skeptical of outsiders. And the distance between people can make commonplace connections difficult for someone new to a rural area.

These inherent problems of rural community have been joined in the last 50 years or so by the problems of new trends. Ironically, as life in the country has gotten easier (and more connected to the cities and suburbs) it has become easier for rural neighbors to not need each other, and therefore to ignore each other. Declining religious observance and church attendance, the rise of drug issues, and the decline in family life have not helped. If there are still kids born into the tight communities which take generations to form, many of them want to leave for cities (understandably).

All of this is not to say that I’m a raving fan of cities. But they do have an edge right now for people without any connections. I’d like to see a revival in the robust rural community in a way that can make the countryside more attractive again, but until that happens, it will take a lot of work for a young person to find strong community in a rural area. For some people, that work might be worth it.

Photo by John Reed on Unsplash

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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