Is “rural” the right word?

Posted in Vibrant Rural

Graph courtesy of Center for Rural Affairs

How would you describe where you live? Daily Yonder takes a look at this question through the lens of the recent Center for Rural Affairs poll. The poll found that forty-two percent of Americans classify themselves as “rural,” while 45 percent say they’re from a “small town.” Armed with this knowledge, does there need to be a shift in how we’re framing the rural narrative?

It maybe not so important for the simple exchange of “rural” and “small town,” but the article goes on to discuss the language used when calling for action from rural Americans.

Communications aimed at motivating and inspiring rural and small-town Americans to act on issues affecting them should start by framing the issue around strengthening the rural and small-town way of life. As rural Americans, we strongly value our way of life and understand it is at risk.

And while their way of life may be at risk, rural Americans have specific views on what role the government should play to revitalize rural and how inequality should be addressed.

Rural Americans and all Americans are concerned about inequality and committed to opportunity. Messages focused on stemming rising inequality by providing genuine opportunity to all, reducing favoritism for the rich and giving everyone a fair shot are well received in rural America. For example, 85 percent of respondents favor preschool programs to prepare lower-income children to succeed in school.

But there is resistance to messages that imply inequality should be addressed by imposing heavier taxes on the rich to give to the poor.

Overall, many valuable insights can be gleaned from how rural Americans think of themselves, their communities, and the opportunities and challenges that reside within them. The Daily Yonder article closes out by saying

The bottom line is fairly simple. Rural and small-town Americans strongly believe their way of life is good and worth preserving. They prize independence and ownership and retain a deep sense of doing what is fair. They want a fair shot for the little people who work hard but struggle through no fault of their own.

How we frame the rural narrative makes a difference in whether it resonates with rural Americans. Take a look at the Center for Rural Affairs poll for more information.