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News Brief

July 24, 2017MARYVILLE, Mo. |  By: Nienow

Senior citizens key to revitalizing rural communities

It's often said that children are our future, but a researcher who has studied hundreds of rural communities argues that seniors are the key to revitalization.

Doug Griffiths, author of "13 Ways to Kill Your Community," stresses that older people have knowledge, time, experience and wealth -- all critical elements to building a successful community. Some of the changes rural communities need to make involve construction of low-maintenance condominiums, but other offerings can be as simple as creating a square-dancing club.

Griffiths says too much of rural America has failed to realize that seniors tend to believe strongly in volunteerism and that they've often saved money to spend during their retirement years. He says it's ironic that another key demographic for rural communities is Millennials.

He notes that many Millennials aren't interested in 80-hour work weeks and urban living that was a hallmark of "Generation X." Griffiths says people often joke about the fact that Millennials post pictures of their food to social media sites, but that actually tells you something about their nature.

Griffiths says too many rural communities have been sabotaged by complacency but they can be revived with little things such as social activities; big things such as investments in technology and housing; and strategies that encourage competition between businesses and volunteerism.