Reason #14: Dispelling myths of rural apathy

Rob Vander Giessen-Reitsma

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Reason #14: Creative collaboration among our neighbors and members of the community will increase social cohesion and help dispel myths of rural “voicelessness” and apathy.
One of the first questions I often hear when I tell people where I live is, “Why Three Rivers?” Even though rural areas are responsible for most of the food people eat, there’s a general bias toward urban areas as centers of learning and culture where people who are smart and sophisticated choose to live. Rural towns are perceived as backwards, places where change is resisted and where fierce independence trumps the common good and people in their twenties and thirties leave rural areas in droves. If you can, you get out.
To be sure, Three Rivers has some problems that are related to these general perceptions of rural areas, as generations have been taught not to expect much from our rural city. However, mixed in with the self-deprecation is an intense optimism and longing. We recognize that there might be more resources and opportunities to develop the kind of place we hope Huss will become in a more densely populated area. Realizing these dreams might be easier in a city. But here’s the question we always come back to: why shouldn’t Three Rivers have access to the same benefits of community development and arts programming as other places? The people of this city have so much to offer and our kids deserve as much energy and imagination as we can muster. Getting there is like putting together a million-piece puzzle, but we have faith that the picture we create will be one of such beauty that it will melt the hearts of the nay-sayers and transform the lives of the young in our small town.