The Newsweek story "Death of a Small Town," on depopulation of the Great Plains, raises some interesting questions. Should we be trying to save these places? They have not worked economically, in large part due to environmental constraints. Remember the "Buffalo Commons" idea that circulated a few years ago? What is wrong with the idea of letting the land revert to a semi-natural condition?
Or if we are to save these isolated, rural communities, how? The article makes the point that or farm policies favor farmers only, not addressing other economic interests of rural areas or some (most, really) of the problems rural areas face. Education is a major factor, but how do you support quality education when homes sell for $2,000 and you only have about 100 students in the entire district?
Do you try to attract new residents? Railroad promoters were the ones who attracted the first set of settlers, who found that the acreage they purchased would not support a family farm (back when such a thing existed) and that the towns were more imagination than reality. Has that changed? Would anything be accomplished by bringing new residents to these places, or would they simply find no jobs, no opportunity, and move on to California?
We often tackle the idea of "growth" as planners and economic developers. How do we deal with "un-growth?"