I remember hearing from Sonya Solomon that Illinois had a lot of interest in rural revival, and here a program that is trying to address directly the demise of a sense of community:
Stewardson villagers are looking to mimic the success of other small towns in the area, such as Dieterich and neighboring Strasburg, in revitalizing their community.
The village has been struggling economically, and according to residents, has lost its sense of community. So, villagers are looking for ways to make it vital in the future.
In order to do that, community members have enlisted the help of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs in “mapping” out Stewardson’s future. MAPPING (Management and Planning Programs Involving Non-metropolitan Groups) is conducted by representatives of Western Illinois University, Macomb, and Illinois Commerce of Economic Opportunity. . . .
A series of five meetings will be set up to discuss the present-day status of Stewardson, plans for the future, how to get there, how to make it happen and how to keep it going. . . .
For Stewardson Steering Committee member Kristine Renshaw, the project also is an avenue for returning the village to the town it once was — a “true” community.
My experience is that this is very difficult without a critical mass of people. Restoring community is just as tough as restoring an ecosystem–in fact, they’re really the same thing.