With local legislators uncritically lapping up anti-immigrant hysteria (“become better educated on the refugee discussion” from a woman who says McCarthy was right? Really, Spencer Gosch?), with decent South Dakotans having to take to the streets to defend simple Christian neighborliness, it’s nice to hear the cautious business media step out gently on the side of decency.
Prairie Business posts a column this morning from rural marketers and columnists Annette Tait and Katy Kassian about the self-preservatory need to welcome newcomers and involve them in rural community life:
With rural populations on the decline, this is something no small town or rural community can afford. The population of rural America declined by 116,000 from 2010-14, the first period of rural population decline on record for rural America as a whole, with rural population dropping to even lower levels than during the farm crises of the 1980s. Modest upticks occurred in 2015 in counties with economies based on recreation, mining and government, but counties supported by farming, manufacturing or non-specialized industries continued to lose ground.
We need to do everything we can to keep life in rural America.
…When we pigeonhole our people — new and existing — into the “who’s who,” the “us versus them,” and the “not from here,” we narrow our opportunities as well. Just because they’re not prominent or we don’t know them doesn’t mean they don’t have a toolbox chock full of great ideas and the know-how to bring those ideas to life [Annette Tait and Katy Kassian, “Rural Communities Need to Welcome New People, New Ideas,” Prairie Business, 2017.04.10].
Tait and Kassian aren’t writing specifically about immigrants or the ugly surge of xenophobic groups that’s making our rural communities look bad. But their text applies quite nicely to welcoming any new people to the community: shutting our doors to newcomers shuts our doors to economic and cultural opportunities that our dwindling rural populations cannot replace.