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Old 04-26-2011, 02:07 PM
 
185 posts, read 301,034 times
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Are there any small towns out there that are still economically self-sufficient from local sources?

When I say self-sufficient, I just mean that from an economic perspective, not a total perspective.

There was this one guy on TheOilAge forums who described small towns in four different ways.

A) They're pretty much dead, or a declining, suffer from brain drain, the remaining residents are aging out, etc. There are probably more meth heads than farmers.

B) The town is either just a "pit-stop" on the highway or is a satellite of a larger city. The latter isn't self-sufficient, and the former only works in a world of cheap oil and easy motoring.

C) The town is a tourist destination, also meaning that it is not self-sufficient and it doesn't work in a world of expensive motoring.

D) The rare type is a town that is self-sufficient on either agricultural business and/or pre-automobile age industries. Think of a small mill town connected to a railroad, or a town where the town square is still the center of commerce and activity.

I guess small college towns could fit under D.

Does this make sense to people?

Last edited by GlobalistPotato; 04-26-2011 at 02:26 PM.. Reason: Wanted to add something.
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Old 04-26-2011, 06:13 PM
 
2,878 posts, read 3,925,382 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlobalistPotato View Post
Are there any small towns out there that are still economically self-sufficient from local sources?

When I say self-sufficient, I just mean that from an economic perspective, not a total perspective.

There was this one guy on TheOilAge forums who described small towns in four different ways.

A) They're pretty much dead, or a declining, suffer from brain drain, the remaining residents are aging out, etc. There are probably more meth heads than farmers.

B) The town is either just a "pit-stop" on the highway or is a satellite of a larger city. The latter isn't self-sufficient, and the former only works in a world of cheap oil and easy motoring.

C) The town is a tourist destination, also meaning that it is not self-sufficient and it doesn't work in a world of expensive motoring.

D) The rare type is a town that is self-sufficient on either agricultural business and/or pre-automobile age industries. Think of a small mill town connected to a railroad, or a town where the town square is still the center of commerce and activity.

I guess small college towns could fit under D.

Does this make sense to people?
That's a tough one. I always wished I had enough money to "make" a town. Sit down, design it properly have one big parking lot at edge of town, if you want to drive you have to somehow get to it otherwise either horseback, bicycle or walk, community gardens somewhere in town, water source local to town, no sewage except for composting toilets - everything goes into a big compost pile on edge of town, horse facilities etc. etc. I wonder if that could ever work...

Would this town satisfy your guidelines? Hampstead - A Life Well Lived

OD
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Middle America
37,143 posts, read 43,058,077 times
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My hometown, a midwestern community of about 7,000, best falls under option D. A variety of agribusiness and being a freight railroad hub with a large grain terminal connected to a railroad spur, and nearby access to a major river to further transport the grain via barge, is what keeps it that way.

It is, I believe, self-sufficient, in the bare-bones sense of the term, although most people who live there choose to go outside of it for quite a few services. However, it does have schools, law enforcement, hospital/medical, fire protection, local newspaper and radio, local water source, basic shopping (although most of it is underutilized in favor of big box stores at the interstate exchange 15 miles up the state highway). I would definitely NOT consider it to have a "bustling town square" that operates as a center of commerce anymore, but neither does it have a completely defunct downtown...some businesses do better than others. Banks, doctors, dentists, and the newspaper office seem to do fine, restaurants come and go with large turnover, retail merchants who stick around are really only the ones who are doing it as a hobby, not those who actually need to turn a profit. Some seasonal shops, like H&R Block, round out the balance. It does have a dedicated Chamber of Commerce who work very hard to keep seasonal community activities in the downtown area, but, basically, it's a tough row to hoe.

However, in terms of major necessary services, it's quite self-sufficient.

It's not a tourist destination, and at 100+ miles from any sizeable city, it's not a viable satellite or bedroom community. It's decidedly not a college town, though, with the nearest university being about 45 minutes away, and a local community college about 20 miles away.
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:41 PM
 
Location: Perpetuality On Wheels
424 posts, read 415,856 times
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Just in case if you havn't heard it yet. There is huge network called Intentional Communicty around, many rural ones of them carry some or all basic characteristics of pattern D I believe.
Tabula, care to disclose the vicinity at least? Thank you.
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:24 PM
 
185 posts, read 301,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
My hometown, a midwestern community of about 7,000, best falls under option D. A variety of agribusiness and being a freight railroad hub with a large grain terminal connected to a railroad spur, and nearby access to a major river to further transport the grain via barge, is what keeps it that way.

It is, I believe, self-sufficient, in the bare-bones sense of the term, although most people who live there choose to go outside of it for quite a few services. However, it does have schools, law enforcement, hospital/medical, fire protection, local newspaper and radio, local water source, basic shopping (although most of it is underutilized in favor of big box stores at the interstate exchange 15 miles up the state highway). I would definitely NOT consider it to have a "bustling town square" that operates as a center of commerce anymore, but neither does it have a completely defunct downtown...some businesses do better than others. Banks, doctors, dentists, and the newspaper office seem to do fine, restaurants come and go with large turnover, retail merchants who stick around are really only the ones who are doing it as a hobby, not those who actually need to turn a profit. Some seasonal shops, like H&R Block, round out the balance. It does have a dedicated Chamber of Commerce who work very hard to keep seasonal community activities in the downtown area, but, basically, it's a tough row to hoe.

However, in terms of major necessary services, it's quite self-sufficient.

It's not a tourist destination, and at 100+ miles from any sizeable city, it's not a viable satellite or bedroom community. It's decidedly not a college town, though, with the nearest university being about 45 minutes away, and a local community college about 20 miles away.
Well that sounds like quite a town!
How big is it?
The thing is, successful towns like that tend to draw people to them, making grow larger, eventually becoming a small city.
That's probably one of the reasons why it's so hard to find successful small towns: it's because they grew into a city.

For example, take Austin Texas...
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Middle America
37,143 posts, read 43,058,077 times
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Most small towns with agriculturally-based economies do not draw people to them in droves who do not already work in the ag industry. They also do not tend to retain young people in very large numbers, which is why the population (noted in my post at 7,000) remains static and will likely eventually decrease. It is too far from urban communities with jobs more common to the younger generations to be a viable commuter town, or to grow into a de facto suburb, so it's not likely to grow into a city. I think it's pretty much topped out, and will probably shrink, if the main economic engine doesn't significantly change. Agriculture is not the same business it was at the time of the community's founding.
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Middle America
37,143 posts, read 43,058,077 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seagull84 View Post
Tabula, care to disclose the vicinity at least? Thank you.
Northern Illinois.
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:30 AM
 
13,615 posts, read 26,055,528 times
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I thought "intentional community" referred to co-housing and stuff like that, not to an existing town or community that has grown organically (I guess that would let out the "Intentional" part). I am curious about this network, and will do some looking.
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Perpetuality On Wheels
424 posts, read 415,856 times
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Default www.IC.org

Yes you're right with town's definition, I put more emphasis on Self-sufficient small community.
To me, real self-sufficient can only be achieved by some collectivism, i.e. inorganic effort.
I only visited one before, twinoaks.org in VA I believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brightdoglover View Post
I thought "intentional community" referred to co-housing and stuff like that, not to an existing town or community that has grown organically (I guess that would let out the "Intentional" part). I am curious about this network, and will do some looking.
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Old 04-28-2011, 11:13 AM
 
Location: Perpetuality On Wheels
424 posts, read 415,856 times
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May drive by later in Spring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Northern Illinois.
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