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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Small-town blues

I can't quite make myself believe this is the tragedy the speaker says it is:

MUNCIE -- Not all of the Midwest's small cities will survive globalization, according to the keynote speaker at the sixth annual Small Cities Conference late last week.

They won't exactly disappear, said Richard Longworth, a former foreign correspondent for The Chicago Tribune and United Press International.

"But a lot of them will decline into backwaters, cut out of the global conversation, lived in by people who are too poor, too uneducated to afford anything better," Longworth said. Some will become ghettos, he added.

[. . .]

"But this conference is about small cities," which Longworth said find themselves in "nothing less than a crisis. I am describing the collapse of a civilization" that is "literally dying out now."

For one thing, people have always moved to the brighter lights and greener pastures and left the smaller towns behind. That's the history of the world, and nobody's going to change it by calling it a modern crisis. For another, I don't think that part about only the poor and uneducated being left behind is true anymore. As vacancies start piling up, the land becomes cheaper and more attractive to people of means, who don't have to worry about being isolated in the boonies. With the state of modern communications and transportation, they can have as full a life as they can in the biggest city, without all the hassles (unless their preferred lifestyle is to stay out in the trendiest club till 4 o'clock every morning). In the hollows around Hazard, Ky., where I grew up, there are still unpainted two-room shacks just barely with indoor plumbing. But on parcels very close to many of them are houses costing $100,000 or more.


Bob G.
Mon, 04/20/2009 - 10:01am

Gee, Leo...didn't anyone mention to these people the future possibilities of rekindled interest in "high-speed" rail?
That will certainly make small town accessibility a revisited venue, will it not?

Michael B-P
Mon, 04/20/2009 - 10:58pm

Sounds to me like it may be time to plan my move back to a small town. I'll keep you posted on the progress of our latest "social experiment."