For generations, small-town rural America was the iconic face of America. Main Street. Parades. Values. The heart of the nation. The ground beneath everything else.
Not now, says my guest today. Small-town rural America is hollowing out.
Corporate giants farm the fields. Small-town achievers run to the cities. And the heartland — the onetime backbone of the country — she says, is in trouble. Lights, going out. Leaders, leaving town.
Is she right? This hour, On Point: What’s going on with small-town rural America?
Joining us from Philadelphia is Maria J. Kefalas, associate professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s University. She’s author of “Working Class Heroes” and “Promises I Can Keep.” Her new book, co-written with husband Patrick J. Carr, is “Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America.” Read an excerpt here.
Joining us from Des Moines, Iowa, is Ernest Goss, a professor of regional economics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He writes the Rural Mainstreet Index, a survey of key rural and small-town economic indicators, and is author of “Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America.”
And from Carroll, Iowa, we’re joined by Douglas Burns is a columnist for the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, a newspaper owned by his family. He moved back after working in Washington, D.C. for four years.
In a guest post on the On Point blog, Burns makes his pitch for why living in rural Iowa is better: “The time other people spend driving we spend living.”