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Schoenberg: Rural communities strong when residents step up

By ERIN SCHOENBERG
Of the Center for Rural Affairs

The true spirit of hard work and helping others is demonstrated on a daily basis in rural communities. However, those attributes weren’t developed overnight, and need to be nurtured for a strong sense of community to continue.

Individual actions for the greater good can start with each of us.

From volunteering for a local organization or event, or working with local leaders on an issue, to running for public office, rural residents can make an impact in many ways. It can be as simple, yet meaningful, as welcoming new residents, attending school and town meetings, and voting in local elections.

Increasing one’s impact in their community also comes by staying informed, whether it’s on local issues or state or federal decisions that could have an impact locally. By knowing what’s going on, residents can find out where the strengths and needs are, and how the community can build on them.

Further, sharing a personal story may have an impact on decisions being made by community, state and national leaders. It can also can help one understand and connect with his or her neighbors.

Contributing to the community’s success also means supporting local businesses, many of which are owned and operated by friends and neighbors. Purchasing food and other items in the neighborhood, and sourcing services locally, keeps the money in the community. It shows small business owners their goods and services are valued.

Just as the contributions of previous generations have shaped rural communities, so too will those of the current generation. Residents can make a difference, in ways big and small, in fostering a vibrant community.

The Center for Rural Affairs is a private, nonprofit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.

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