Census: Change is here (still)

Posted in Vibrant Rural

It’s that time again… Census data to drive conversation about state demographics and community health.  With the release of more 2010 Census data on March 15, that conversation has seen a spike.

Some of the most interesting rural-focused coverage is out of Aaron Brown’s MinnesotaBrown blog and Dave Peters’ coverage in Minnesota Public Radio’s Ground Level Blog.  Star Tribune highlights  the changing face of Minnesota and the Pioneer Press provides an interactive snapshot.

In short, population shifts out of St. Paul and Minneapolis proper to suburbs.  Growth in Rochester, replacing Duluth as third largest Minnesota city.  Rural communities are seeing a variety of changes, with a mosaic of population loss or gain, depending largely on where there is work and attraction for retirees.

Reporter Dave Peters summarized:    “In the past, areas with declining populations tended to line up along the rural western and southern borders of the state. That trend has caused plenty of hand-wringing over the future of rural Minnesota. The new numbers will only intensify that concern because that pattern took a giant step east and toward the center of the state.”

Minnesota’s state demographer, Tom Gillaspy, has been talking about these trends for some time and just co-authored a new report about it. 

Change is here.  For some, it’s been here for a while.  Former Willmar mayor, Les Heitke, shares lessons learned in Willmar as that community has worked to work effectively across differences there and reframe change as opportunity.   See video interview.