In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas. By 2010 that number had dropped to 18%. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes led to significant growth of America’s urban areas. Yet, less than 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.
Many Americans assume that rural communities are endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from outmigration, ailing schools, and overused land. But that perception is far from true in many areas with rural Americans working hard to sustain their communities. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Crossroads: Change in Rural America will explore these questions while engaging rural communities in a rich and exciting discussion about their futures.
Crossroads: Change in Rural America offers small towns in Michigan a chance to examine their own paths and to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.
There is much more to the narrative of rural America and Crossroads is your chance to share the story!
The Michigan Humanities Council is coordinating the exhibit’s tour in Michigan and seeks six partner organizations in rural communities to host Crossroads in 2019-2020. Selected sites will host the Smithsonian exhibit, work with local partners in their community, and create additional programming to support the exhibit.
For more information on this traveling exhibition, visit the Museum on Main Street website.