Recently, during a light debate on my small hamlet's Facebook group under a post warning locals about trunk break ins at the local Dollar General, I noticed a bit of a divide between residents. It seems that Gen X, Millenials, etc are on one side, while our parents, mostly Baby Boomers are on the other.

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A debate divided

What I noticed during this particular debate was a stream of lamentation from the older generation, mostly crying out with displeasure about the state of our little Outer Rim hamlet. In short, one participant noted the town used to have multiple grocery stores, as well as a number of services. They also said, based on the car being ransacked at Dollar General, that the small town was facing some big problems. Another said that trust was an issue in town.

Within the wider Gen X et al demographic, we have committed ourselves to pushing back with words and measurable actions against the doom and gloom. Whenever these discussions arise, we remind the naysayers of the good work we're doing, collectively, to bring our towns back. In the hamlet where I live, a rag tag group of us have brought back community events that were slated for extinction, boosted our local theater's visibility, established a community farmers market. A young couple with young children who are transplants are remodeling a storefront that will be serving up coffee and art. A new store on the edge of town is opening offering local goods. Similar things are happening in the next town over.

Our problems seem small in comparison

Personally, I don't feel our town or others is facing big problems. To me, petty theft and vandalism are things that rural towns deal with day in, day out, and are marginal problems at best. When I think of small towns with big problems, I think of Appalachia, and the vast losses that were encountered with the loss of coal mining. According to the New York Times: "West Virginia ranks among the most distressed states in child poverty rates and median incomes, in population loss and in working-age adults out of the labor force." We're not quite there yet.

One thing that multiple media outlets note is population decline among small towns. This is most glaring when looking at numbers of our local school districts. Most have declining populations. As with small, rural towns, ours are not immune to people growing up and fleeing due to lack of opportunity.

What does the future look like?

Despite this, small towns in Otsego County, New York are pushing back. I do a weekly deep dive into these towns with my Hometown Throwdown feature. What I'm seeing is new, interesting businesses pop up where grocery stores and clothing shops once stood. New faces and locals alike are stepping up to the challenge, and opening up interesting spots with food and other offerings. This has especially accelerated post pandemic.

I don't think our small towns are in decline at all. Based on observation and research, it seems that our towns are on the precipice of something big and quite bold.

What's your opinion?

Take A Look Inside The Most Expensive Home For Sale In Otsego County

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