Rural Community Development: Know Your Neighbors

Many of us enjoy the country life for the peace, quiet and solitude. But sometimes, good neighbors and an alliance can make all the difference when it comes to rural community development.

| November/December 2006

It's best to know your neighbors and create an alliance when it comes to rural community development. 

When Susan Clark was doing research for her book on New England's annual town meetings, she visited a little town called Newark, Vermont, population 470. These townsfolk, Clark says, are more involved in their town meetings than any other town in New England. So Clark asked the town clerk, "How do people here stay so informed? Is there a newspaper?"

The clerk guffawed. In a town of 470?

Is there a post office? A bulletin board where everyone posts things? No, the clerk responded, just a little post office in the village store.

So where do people gather to talk about what's going on? Clark tried desperately.

"Oh!" The clerk answered, understanding at last. "At the dumpster!"

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