Coming Together, Staying Together, & Growing Together: A How-to for Rural Revitalization

— Written By Maude Dinan

Despite the diversity and unique characteristics among our nation’s rural towns, there exists a widening gap between prosperous urban and distressed rural areas. To preserve the valuable resources and character of these towns, revitalization as a result of stakeholders uniting to identify pressing issues and highlight opportunities has emerged rapidly.

Collaboration is strongly suggested as a means to maximize resources to achieve goals. However, students in Dr. Erin Seekamp’s course, Theory and Practice of Partnerships for Conservation and Community Sustainability, recognized the challenges that arise when uniting efforts in collaborative pursuits. Their term project, now Extension publication, highlights the necessary steps to foster “coming together, staying together, and growing together.” The publication presents guidelines that can establish productive and enduring processes conducive to rural revitalization.

While the process of collaboration can be daunting, rural communities should feel optimistic in these endeavors. Given the strong sense of place and deep-rooted social networks, rural communities are uniquely equipped to capitalize on the benefits of the collaboration. 

Key components of the publication include:

  • How to identify and engage stakeholders to bring them to the table
  • Methods to nurture social assets for lasting and productive relationships
  • Ways to make strong leaders to take proactive and entrepreneurial approaches
  • Detailed examples of collaborative efforts in American rural towns 

While the article emphasizes collaboration in the rural revitalization context, these guidelines are applicable across all collaborative efforts. Core underpinnings in these guidelines include an understanding of people and how they operate together to achieve their goals.