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Reviving Small Towns Policy in Short


*To read the policy in full, see further below


In our extensive backroad traveling, we have come across town after town that is dying. On an Original 13 Colonies Tour, we stopped in Mt. Vernon, Maryland (pop. 400). Mt. Vernon, a fishing village and farm community on the Eastern Shore, once had a grocery store, a General Store, a clothing store, and a restaurant. Maysville, South Carolina (pop. 694), used to be pretty much the same, we learned on a stop there. Now there's practically no business in either town, with most people driving 10, 20, 30 miles to big box stores that are centrally-located between clusters of these small towns. As a result, global warming increases exponentially and town interdependency and community building decreases exponentially.


I told the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper in Brattleboro, Vermont, that it is crucial we vigorously fight this trend and revitalize these downtowns. The non-profit organization, Community Service Inc., is doing just that in Yellow Springs, Ohio. On a stop there, we learned some big box chain stores were slated to go in on the outskirts of town. Community Service helped mobilize residents to fight this with open public meetings, letters-to-the-editor, and yard signs. They won -- as did protesters in Eureka, California . In Eureka, we learned Wal-Mart had expressed interest in locating there. A citizens group formed and mounted a successful referendum against it.


And as we say no to these big box retailers and the concept of centralism in general, it is essential we move to a more decentralized orientation, with the rebuilding and/or revitalizing of these small town downtowns, like they have done in Platteville, Wisconsin. On a stop there we learned some downtown store owners have moved in above their stores, (the main street becoming their front yard), buildings are being renovated, town people are being educated about why it's important to shop locally.

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