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Recent posts by Brian Depew

New Immigrants Deliver Opportunity, Challenges to Small Towns

Immigration is reshaping the landscape of rural America. A rapidly growing Hispanic population is driving the trend. New immigrants are offsetting population loss, a challenge faced by many small communities. 

In our home state of Nebraska, the Hispanic population will triple by 2050, accounting for 25% of the state population. More than 40% of this growth is happening in rural communities. The majority population in several Nebraska small towns has shifted to Hispanic.

A New Vision for Small Schools

If you live in a small town, you know the school is a centerpiece of the community. The two small schools I know best have been on my mind a lot lately.

The first is Laurens-Marathon, a consolidated school in Iowa. I graduated from there. The second is Lyons-Decatur, the consolidated school here in the Center’s home town. Both are under pressure to merge again, becoming parts of even larger districts.

Rural Electric Co-ops Can Renew Community Spirit

I tore a page out of my rural electric co-op newsletter last fall. It is pinned it to my wall. I read it every day. It says, “Electric co-ops were constructed with lines, poles, and the foolhardy notion that we all prosper by helping each other.”

It’s so true. The co-operative spirit that brought electric service to rural America represents the community-driven values of small towns – values the Center works to uphold today.

We Are Rural: Reflecting on 40 Years

The Center for Rural Affairs turned 40 years old this year. Think about that for a minute.

When Marty Strange and Don Ralston first threw open the doors 40 years ago, it was anyone’s guess if the scrappy organization on main street in a town of 800 would make it for one year.

It didn’t take long before rural people were flocking in from across the state.

They came to early Center gatherings. They had heard about a new organization located in the heart of rural America with a mission to lift up everyday rural people. An organization with a belief in a better future.

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