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Small town resilience

SMALL town America is alive and well. As a citizen of a small rural community, I have been pleased by my town's response to the economic and social problems of today. My town is Clarion, Iowa, located 90 miles north of Des Moines, the state capital, and 60 miles southwest of Mason City. Its total population is 2,500. It sits in the middle of Wright County, said to contain the highest percentage of grade A soil in the nation.

Having all this terrific soil has not meant that our farmers have not been hit by the recent farm crisis. A single edition of our local paper carried five notices of farm sales in the community. Under these circumstances, tensions rise and despair can settle in.

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However, our town has not given in to these conditions. There is a very real sense of unity growing between the town person and the farm person. The business on Main Street knows its livelihood depends on a strong farm economy. The farmer needs the town for the sale of his products and the purchase of goods. The two sides are facing the problem together.

At a recent Sunday School class I attended, the entire hour was spent discussing the farm problem. No solutions were found and none were expected, but heart touched heart. This also occurred a month ago when town churches got together for a community prayer service.

For several years our town has been trying to develop a spirit of community pride and involvement. Area residents are encouraged to spend time in town, meet in town, and work toward bettering their town's conditions. It's working! The Clarion Development Commission has spent long hours toward bringing new businesses and industries into town, and the past year has seen the startup of ten new businesses.

Social events also add to community cohesion. The Chamber of Commerce supports an Ag Banquet every year during National Agriculture Week. Chamber members invite farm couples as guests.

Even though our community is facing its hardest times since the depression, our people are responding with courage and sympathy. The strength of our nation lies in its people. Here, at the roots of America, our people are as dauntless and caring as ever.

Joan D. Sellers is a farm wife and free-lance writer.

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