Revitalizing Rural Communities: How Churches Can Help

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2006-06-10
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Kirschenmann, Frederick
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Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
The Leopold Center is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative environmental and social impacts of farming and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources.
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There is a popular American perception that ru ral communities are places of failure. It is a perception that is apparently shared by rural communities themselves. North Dakota rural sociologist Curtis Stofferahn and his colleagues, in a 1991 study, discovered that by the late 1980s most rural citizens in the Mi dwest already harbored the notion that their communities were dying. Researchers found that the metaphor which dominated the thinking of rural community residents was the “corpse.” On one hand, rural citizens believed that the death of their communities was inevitable and their only reason for staying around was to prepare the corpse for burial. On the other hand, some believed that a new industry might yet come to town and revive the corpse. 2 But they found no evidence of hope that renewal could come from within thei r rural communities.

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