Small Town | porchlight - Indiana Public Media

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Small Town


Uncle John's Gift Shop, Paoli, Indiana

We are gradually moving toward becoming a society where physical address will no longer place restrictions on an individual’s ability to access information, products, or even employment. Yet if a private residence within the vast digital world is where these connections are forged and engaged every day, the importance and the distinctiveness of small local places will be diminished.

Regionality And Individuality

This trend towards being uprooted is reflected in the fact that while 75% of the nation’s land area is non-metropolitan or rural, that area only contains 14% of the U.S. population. Throughout the country, regional dialects, cuisines, and customs are vanishing as more and more Americans receive their news, entertainment, and in fact the bulk of their daily discourse through digital devices.

Being affected by a small town or a hometown, its history, its presence, its rhythms, requires practices that individuals are doing less of in the 21st Century, no matter where they live. That is: engage face-to-face in real time with others who occupy their neighborhoods and communities and also physically walk around outside to explore their immediate surroundings.

An absence of local influence is how the generic becomes more attractive, more available, perhaps even more affordable, as it increasingly displaces the distinctive. What we don’t miss, we’re likely to lose, even when it’s right in front of us all along.