Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No Really, It’s OK to be Rural.

I see that a group of young people in rural Kansas started a group they are calling Power Ups: Rural by Choice. You can find them on facebook but add the ‘rural by choice’ to your search or you’ll get a lot of links about characters in various animations. It’s good to see young people embracing rural living and extending it beyond the farm world. The farm lifestyle is essential for sustaining our rural areas, but we also need to show young people that there’s a rural lifestyle for those who don’t live on a farm. A recent project of the PowerUps is to host entertainment events to “connect individuals open to adventure and looking to meet new people.”* They’ve chosen to call these events “Saturday Night Initiative for PowerUp Entertainment” which they call “SNIPE hunts.” The name is catchy but I probably would not have selected it. “Snipe hunts” are kind of a mean prank played on city kids. And up here we really do have a bird called a snipe that really is very interesting to go out and look for when one is out watching the woodcocks do their displays in the spring. We host an event in the spring (well, spring here meaning there’s still snow patches on the ground) for our students in which they come out for various fun activities, including watching the woodcocks. I mentioned to one student from a large town in lower Michigan that we’d also get to at least hear the whoop whoop whoop of the snipes. She almost got angry with us thinking that we were pranking her. We had to work hard to convince her that there really is a bird called a snipe and we would hear it. It turned out OK with her since we did hear the snipes and saw the woodcock display. Best of luck to the PowerUps on their project to connect young people in rural communities. The urban placemakers talk about attracting young people via “1000 Nights of Fun” (2 weekend nights x 50 weeks per year x the 10 years between the time they get out of college and the time they settle down family-wise). I don’t think rural areas need to provide 1000 nights of fun but they do need to be able to say to young adults, in the words of the Statler Bros, “Now don’t tell me there’s nothing to do.” *Quotes are from the PowerUps: Rural by Choice facebook page which also describes PowerUps as “21-39 year olds who are rural by choice. The PowerUp movement is about recognizing the value of PowerUps who have made a conscious decision to embrace and enhance the rural communities in which they live.”

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