Just filed a story over on Agriculture.com about some new data on some changes underway in small towns in the nation's midsection. It's sure nothing surprising -- I know it's happening in my hometown in Kansas. The study finds small towns have a higher percentage population over the age of 65, and a smaller population between the ages of 20 and 44. So in other words, all the young people are leaving for cities. How's this happening in your town?
One thing that's cool, though, is the growing effort a lot of young people (around my age and older) in my hometown who are working to build up the town's infrastructure to serve other younger people. As a result, the town's seeing some vibrancy it hasn't in quite a while. Pretty great to see.
So, is there anything going on in your town to bolster things for the younger population? Curious to hear some of the ideas folks are throwing around. Maybe we can give each other some ideas to use in our own towns!
My wife and i started the WCIA..Weskan Community Improvement Association with the help of some of our good friends. Kinda the same deal, just in the past 5 years there have been a lot of young people move back around 23-30, and are having lots of kids...local baby boom. We created the WCIA to take on different projects, etc. to revive our community. There was a large wave of young people who left town and never came back, now we have a gapeing hole we are trying to fill to keep our school doors open. We started a "Weskan Days" event to celebrate after wheat harvest and it includes activities like a softball tourney, garden tour, giant slip-n-slide for the kids (i make a huge one out of our grain storage bags and line it with sprinklers...a big hit!), quilt show/display, community BBQ, street dance and a firework show. We also started a community clean up day and spend a lot of time painting bleachers, the tennis courts, the park picnic tables, etc, cut down old dead trees around town and haul them off, and help the elderly do things like yard work, etc. that they need help with...it was an amazing response, after about 3 years our town looks a lot different and people take more pride in what their yards look like today...less "white trash" looking yards around town. haha We are doing these things becauee we decided we needed kids to take pride in their community, and see it as a fun place to live and work in order to give them a reason or two to want to move back home someday and raise a family. One of our biggest hurdles in getting young people back is our housing....no where to live. Our population structure is about the same as a lot of towns like us, "newly weds or nearly deads", in another 5-8 years there will probably be a lot of homes come availiable...i have three 90 year old + ladies who live on my street alone! seriously! Same problem in recruiting teachers to come here...housing options pretty much suck. There are young couples who would like to move back but aren't interested in living in thier parents basement trying to raise thier own family. Anyway, i could go on and on....that is a couple of things we have done and a huge problem we face.
a carbon copy of most towns out here. Lakin is kind of lacking in the community development (activities, events, etc.) where as Deerfield 7 miles to the east, 1/3 the population seems to do great at those type of things. Believe most towns within an hour of more populated towns say.. 10-15k+ people are more of just bedroom towns as most commute to larger towns for work.