The grass isn't always greener in the big city
Submitted by Howard Owens on October 22, 2009 - 10:35pm
Why do a small town's best and brightest young people relocate to big cities?
The common assumption is that they leave to seek better opportunities or more excitement.
Bill Kauffman has a different theory -- our teachers, civic leaders, parents and American culture try to convince rural young people that to be an achiever, you have to go elsewhere. There's little thought to the notion that you can achieve right where you're rooted.
Kauffman discusses this idea in a book review for the Wall Street Journal:
The sharpest insight in "Hollowing Out the Middle" is that "small towns play an unwitting role in their own decline" by inculcating, in school and too often at home, the belief that fulfilling one's promise means leaving for the city lights or the manicured suburbs. The purpose of education today, as Kentucky poet-farmer Wendell Berry argues, is to train young people to leave home. And so, the authors note, "the investment the community has made in them becomes a boon for someplace else."
Batavia is full of bright, young people who have decided to stay, or who have come back. I've met them. Batavia's future would be even brighter if we could convince more of them to stay and help build new businesses and invest in the community that nurtured them.