The New York Times has a fascinating story up this morning about withering Great Plains towns which, after years of population loss and decline, are seeing a resurgence thanks to Hispanic immigration.
For generations, the story of the small rural town of the Great Plains, including the dusty tabletop landscape of western Kansas, has been one of exodus — of businesses closing, classrooms shrinking and, year after year, communities withering as fewer people arrive than leave and as fewer are born than are buried. That flight continues, but another demographic trend has breathed new life into the region.
Hispanics are arriving in numbers large enough to offset or even exceed the decline in the white population in many places. In the process, these new residents are reopening shuttered storefronts with Mexican groceries, filling the schools with children whose first language is Spanish and, for now at least, extending the lives of communities that seemed to be staggering toward the grave.
Is this what we need here in the North Country? We have plenty of towns that are aging, dwindling, looking for fresh blood.
Maybe we should be encouraging our migrant workforce — on dairy farms, apple orchards, the tourism industry, etc. — to begin putting down roots here? As always, your comments welcome.