Updated: Dec 31, 2021
ASTC is predicting a lot of changes for Rural Appalachia over the next 20 years.
This blog will have two parts.
The reasoning behind why there will be an influx of new residents. The most aggressive inflex will be in Far Eastern KY, Far Southwestern VA, and Far Southwestern West Virginia.
ASTC will go through bullet points on why this region will actually increase greatly in population over the next 20 year and have a lower median age demographic.
First, please read the following story from Marshall University, Brad Smith.
Next we will present a 10 step guide on how to meet your new neighbors so that all can reach their potential and prevent a rapid erosion of culture in small rural towns.
I. Bullet points on the argument of an influx of residents to Coal Country
2/3rds of the nation’s population is within a day's drive.
10 year leap in business practices that allow people to work from home.
Far less population density.
Less drastic weather and climate risks.
Continued investments and improvements in telecommuting.
Continued improvements in high speed internet access.
Tax incentives and subsidies by state capitals for industry and infrastructure investment.
Greater individuality and freedoms and the search for self-reliance.
Baby Boomers will continue to leave the region.
This Boomer depature will bring about decreased home and building prices.
Continued inflation and cost of living in major cities.
Northern retirees may continue to only go halfway to Florida and stay here.
Tourism and visiting 12 months a year.
The creation of more 4 lane highways into rural areas.
Resurgence of Passenger Rail.
As public 4-year colleges continue to raise tuition, rural colleges will enroll more.
Grant funding will continue to be available via various organizations.
Improved tourism and nature based tourism spurred on by governments.
More Industrial parks and enterprises in rural areas spurred on by governments.
A more homogenized American Culture will create less social constraints.
More counties will continue to consolidate their schools to offer better education.
Past mountain top removals have the potential for economic development and or natural resource conservation.
More organizations will purchase large tracts of land that will have the potential to be turned into economic development, and or natural resource conservation.
More counties will increase taxes on large landowners to create pressure to sell land to allow for more economic development and or natural resource conservation.
The 10 step guide on how to best
meet and develop friendships with your new neighbors
This guide works for people who move into your neck of the woods from a couple of hours away, or from the other side of the world. These neighbors could also be an organization.
This guide is designed to prevent the fast erosion of Appalachia small town culture by meeting individuals, families, and organizations as early as possible to prevent their isolation. Isolated groups may develop coalitions with others that wish to radically change your community. A conflict of visions may cause resentment toward each other and degrade quality of life and human potential.
1. Meet your new neighbors at the front door. Ideally theirs. This is a great ice breaker. Welcome them to the community. This will put them at ease, because they are not sure of how they will be accepted. They may feel a huge relief and like you from the get go!
Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are joining the community and not trying to change it to resemble the one they left.
2. Get to learn something about your new neighbors to develop common interests. Once you learn where they are from, do some research about their culture so that you can better understand their point of view and how to better connect.
Pay particular attention to Collectivistic cultures which contrast with the Individualistic culture of the USA. Collectivistic cultures tend to be high context with relationships. This contrasts with the low context culture of the USA. However, the Coal Country region of Appalachia is more collectivistic and more high context than other regions in the USA.
3. Invite your neighbors over to eat or to a community gathering. Continue to learn more about each other and do more listening than talking. If you know of any skills they have, try to create an environment where they can help the group and showcase their talents. This will create more community unit integrity with your new neighbor.
4. Offer to drive your new neighbors around the town and provide important information that will help them during their day to day lives. When possible talk about the history of the area.
5. Tell your new neighbors the values and interests of your community, and listen to their feedback. Ask them about the values and interests in the community they left. Try to create common ground to build off of.
Try and get other neighbors to help you with this so that your new neighbors can network and get a different perspective.
6. Create a conversation on the fundamentals of the origins of the US and create a dialogue of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Ask their opinions on what the American Dream means. Give your honest opinion on what the American Dream means to you.
7. Be sure to offer a copy of the U.S. Constitution to your new neighbors. Remind them that it's the little guys who keep this document going. Make the argument that you are equal stakeholders in your community, state, and country.
If you need a copy of the U.S. Constitution and ever near Norton, VA, swing by Pathfinders & High Knob Outfitters to pick up one.
This conversation would also be a great time to explain how the legacy of the USA is found in the future of its children, and how you should both work together to make sure the next generation reaches their potential.
Try not to get into specific politics or talk much about the two political parties found here. This continues to be a very polarizing subject, and should get worse in the near future.
8. Have your children take your neighbors children under their wing in school. This goes for academics, sports, and social events.
Have their kids over and watch some classic movies and tell them a good story about your community. Take an active role in helping these children reach their potential.
9. Ask your new neighbors about their vision for themselves and children in the community. Tell them yours. Continue to try to find common ground so that you can help each other.
10. Except that both of you will leave impressions upon each other. You will change too. Also except that the culture of all communities is always shifting and never truly static.
If you follow the 10 steps above, you will actively help preserve the small town character of your community, love thy neighbor, and possibly improve the content of each others character.
If things turn awkward, or if the conversation gets slow or stops, consider putting on the James Brown Song, “Living in America.” and then talk amongst yourselves afterwards.
Appalachia Sustainable Tourism Collaboration