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Update: A second accuser emerges with misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Also on the Monday rundown: We take you to a state where more than 60,000 kids are chronically absent from school; and we'll let you know why the rural digital divide can be a twofold problem.

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Researcher: Rural Communities Can Thrive Again by Welcoming Seniors

Author and researcher Doug Griffiths says that, while it may not seem like a big thing, even a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for rural communities. (Leonardo Marchini/Pixabay)
Author and researcher Doug Griffiths says that, while it may not seem like a big thing, even a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for rural communities. (Leonardo Marchini/Pixabay)
July 24, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – It's often said that children are our future, but a researcher who has studied hundreds of rural communities argues that seniors are key to revitalization.

Doug Griffiths, the author of "13 Ways to Kill Your Community," stresses that the elderly have knowledge, time, experience and wealth - all critical elements to building a successful community.

Some of the changes rural communities need to make involve the construction of low-maintenance condominiums, but other offerings can be as simple as creating a square-dancing club.

"Giving them a quality of life, making sure they have the things that they're looking for will help your community. They'll spend that money locally rather than going someplace else," he says.

Griffiths says too much of rural America has failed to realize that seniors tend to believe strongly in volunteerism and that they've often saved monies to spend during their retirement years.

He also says it's ironic that another key demographic for rural communities is Millennials. He notes that many Millennials aren't interested in 80-hour work weeks and urban living that was a hallmark of "Generation X."

Griffiths says people often joke about the fact that Millennials post pictures of their food to social media sites, but that actually tells you something about their nature.

"They've realized that it's about living a little bit more in the moment, not for retirement, 'cause some people don't reach retirement," he explains. "And so, they're very community focused, and with technology they don't have to live in the city."

Griffiths says too many rural communities have been sabotaged by complacency but they can be revived with little things such as social activities, big things such as investments in technology and housing, and strategies that encourage competition between businesses and volunteerism.

Kevin Patrick Allen/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - IA