Many people who live in rural places struggle to stay there as their economic opportunities continue to disappear. Some hang on because of the heritage of family held lands. Some stay because there are few opportunities for them elsewhere. But most of these hardy rural-raised folks stay in backcountry North America because of a deep appreciation for and a love of the place.
As population continues to move toward the coasts, some key strategies today that will help provide a rural future for tomorrow include: 1) creatively brainstorm for economic survival, 2) follow the progress of innovative projects, and 3) learn from each other those "best practices" that work in other rural places.
The projects described below, are ones to watch. Each uses a different approach, but the goal is exactly the same:
How can we attract travelers to our place to enjoy what we offer and to help bolster our rural economy?
The Kentucky-Tennesee-Alabama Whale of a Sale project. Started in 1987 by one fellow with an innovative idea -- today, people from all over the country come by car, truck and motorhome to take part in this week long "world's longest yard sale." Every year in August, thousands of visitors come to buy from as many as 5,000 vendors set up in front yards, fields and driveways along a 450 mile stretch of back-roads USA. Click here to read more.
The Craft HeritageTrails of North Central Montana Hands of Harvest project. Based on Handmade in America, a successful model originated in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Hands of Harvest takes toursits on their own Trip of Discovery across the Big Sky country of north central Montana. The mapped locations identify studios, local museums and shops that showcase craft and cultural offerings unique to rural Montana. Click here for more information.
Regent, North Dakota's Enchanted Highway project. Gary Greff a metallurgist from Regent, is the driving force behind the creation of a series of "the world's tallest metal sculptures" which he hopes will bring people and their money to the town of Regent and its surrounding communities. The Enchanted Highway extends 32 miles from Exit 72 on Interstate 94 south to the town of Regent, North Dakota.Click here to read more.