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Are Small Rural Communities Doomed?

I recently traveled with a group of US rural advocates and experts to explore whether others elsewhere are learning better ways to reposition rural communities for fruitful futures. Organized by the Japan Society Innovators’ Network together with the Japan NPO Center, our traveling “institute” also consisted of a remarkable group of American rural advocates and experts from Nebraska, Ohio and West Virginia. These are my reflections from the Japanese front lines, where agriculture, youth, imagination and desperation collide.
Regardless of geography, one story is playing out the world over: Rural areas shrink whilst mega-cities grow by leaps and bounds. For instance, since 2010, NYC grew in population by 5.5% percent. Rural areas are not so lucky. They are defined as small towns and hamlets that are situated beyond commuting distances to a 50,000+ town. Between 2015-2016, these non-metro areas experienced the sixth straight year in modest losses.
In North America, where we act as individu…

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