The U.S. Census Bureau says a place is rural if it lacks any urban cluster of 2,500 or more people, but "In a country as large and varied as the United States, characterizing 'rural' is almost impossible." That's how DTN paraphrased remarks that bureau Director Robert Groves made at a Council of Foundations meeting in Kansas City this week on rural philanthropy.
Groves "noted that three facts do stand out: Rural places have twice as many gas stations per capita as metropolitan America, have about the same number of eating and drinking establishments, but have only half as many dentists' offices." Access to health care is a chronic problem in rural areas, and research has shown that oral health is linked to overall health.
Groves said the last decade saw population losses in agricultural areas far from cities, and a demise of many small businesses because of the Great Recession.
Those at the meeting also heard from sociologist Cynthia Mildred "Mil" Duncan, research director of AGree, "a foundation-funded effort on the 2012 farm bill," which has as one goal "to shift the focus of the farm bill to local foods and job creation," DTN reports.
When Duncan ran the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, it divided rural America into four types of communities: Amenity-rich communities such as those near lakes and mountains; transition areas with amenities such as old paper mill towns; declining resource-extraction areas without the amenities that attract outsiders; and chronically poor communities such as Indian reservations and Southern and border communities. (Read more)