Becky and Oscar Have Been My Amenities

[imgbelt img=bushnellpahouse530.jpg]Tim Collins grew up in an Ohio city but has chosen to live and work in small towns across Appalachia and, now, in the Midwest. He took a pay cut for social rewards.

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Boomers Migrating to Rural America,” I find out that my generation (yes, I’m “talkin’ ‘bout my generation”) is interested in moving to rural areas for retirement. Doesn’t this suggest one pressing new reason why rural community development will become important?

I’d say it’s about time. My personal and professional experiences say that rural places matter; they always have. Unlike my high school and college classmates who ended up in the “Greater Chicago area” or the “Greater Portland area” or the “Greater Atlanta area,” I deliberately chose a life and career path that have kept me in rural places, small communities like New Geneva along the Monongahela River and Butler Township outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Morgantown and Scott Depot in West Virginia; Livingston, Kentucky; and now “greater” Macomb, Illinois.

It is, I guess, a notable feature of my life that I chose to live up and down the Appalachian Mountains and now have returned to my native Midwest to live in a small town. (I am originally from Ohio, growing up in the city and sprawling suburbs during the 1960s). The pay wasn’t that great in a few of the rural places where I chose to live, but I did fulfill a childhood dream of living in a rural area. Besides, how many people can say they’ve been a small-town librarian, extension agent, professional student, consultant, writer, photographer, and researcher in the same life?

With Bill’s article, something bounced in my little mental ping-pong game about the necessity of rural community development. Demographers have been documenting rural retirement destinations for some time now. College and resort towns, for example, have benefited from an influx of retirees who bring their pension checks and other wealth with them, creating more demand for things college towns and resorts already have – amenities. Do a Google Search of “retirement destinations” and you’ll find all sorts of advice about top retirement spots, the places that are loaded with these amenities.

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A message from the Rural Assembly

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