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Rethinking Rural: Global Community and Economic Development in the Small Town West

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Abstract

Rethinking Rural summarizes characteristics of the isolation, mass society and global society eras, and provides an overview of western environmental history. It also explores the significant challenges identified during forum discussions throughout the west. More importantly, it offers guidance to community leaders, policy makers, and scholars seeking ways to address common issues - poverty, inequality, and shifting demographics as well as resource management and conservation.
... This is especially so in what Daniels and Lapping (1996) have called "deep rural" areas, where "land provides a central medium through which all aspects of life are mediated" (Strang, 1997, p. 84). When there is an extended downturn in the local economy, it is not just revenue and income that are affected: schools, often the social focal point for small communities, lose enrollment and teachers; the extent of local retailers thins out; and a range of social and other problems are likely to increase, adversely affecting the overall attractiveness and spirit of the community and the region (Albrecht, 2014). ...
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The situation of rural America is in flux in the early twenty-first century, especially for communities with natural resource and agriculture-based economies dominated by industrialized commodity production. One noteworthy response has been the emergence in community development of the healthy environment/healthy economy paradigm. We use the term New Natural Resource Economy (NNRE) to characterize approaches to economic development based in the new paradigm. NNRE entails mainly small-scale entrepreneurs–the dominant business type in rural communities and nationally–who seek to meld ecology with economics. Here we report on a survey of NNRE entrepreneurs in eastern Oregon, asking and answering three questions: What is NNRE? Why is it important to rural communities? What challenges do NNRE entrepreneurs face?. © 2019
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Rural residents in the United States do not always agree on local development priorities, yet understanding and accounting for their preferences is a step towards more effective and equitable community development. We use survey data spanning different types of rural Intermountain West communities to gauge residents' preference weights for economic and environmental rural development goals. Given that community tenure and age are often related to development preferences, respondents are divided into three groups based on these factors using a classification tree approach. Long‐term residents (>36 percent of life spent in the community) have the strongest economic preferences, while older newcomers have the strongest environmental preferences. The Leti heterogeneity index reveals that long‐term residents also displayed the greatest homogeneity of preferences. Ordered probit analysis shows that goal preferences are also related to sex, education, household income, community financial security, and the share of county income derived from wealth assets. These findings provide a more nuanced and methods‐based understanding of residential tenure in a community and its relationship to development attitudes across a variety of rural place types, all valuable information for rural community and economic development practitioners.
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