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Freeing a Fountain of Youth - Horizons

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Being a recent transplant to this area, I see our small struggling communities as prime places to create your own opportunities. The cost of living here is low, the natural environment is bountiful and we are within visiting distance to three large cities. Oh, speaking of large cities, I am reminded: there is no traffic here! Since making this place home, I have noticed the lack of people in their twenties and thirties. Where did they go? You guessed it, to the big cities to chase jobs, culture and education. But what if we were to convince them to stick around or come back? I can definitely relate to growing up in a small town and wanting to get away, but now I find myself in an even smaller town! Who would have guessed it?

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When the time finally came to consider life after high school, I remember not really knowing what I wanted to do for "a living". I had the good fortune of enrolling in the post secondary program which gave me a taste of college during my senior year. I remember being coached; "if you don't go to college in this day and age, you will never get a real job." Well it wasn't too long after my first year of college, that my parents told me I would have to take out a loan to continue. Being enrolled in a music industry program, I found my real passion after class by writing and recording music with friends. Even with the threat of; "you are on your own if you quit college," I walked away and have never looked back. I liken these first independent years to a tree's thickest grow rings. When living on your own you grow in a hurry.

Not being tied down by debt, I was able to raise enough money to take a trip to Europe and Turkey a year after dropping out of college. This experience gave me a broader perspective of this small world we share. The opportunity to see other cultures in action and have a temporary break from the same old influences is hard to beat. Staying clear of a pile of debt allows one to have experiences and take risks that wouldn't otherwise be prudent. Getting out and seeing the world a bit, can help to foster appreciation for where you come from.

Thanks to the Internet, we are more than able to connect with the world and educate ourselves for little or no cost. That said, we can't forget about the wealth of knowledge to be learned from our family, friends, regional neighbors, tech schools and local libraries. Maybe you share similar dreams with your children and could start a company together? Maybe you kind of like your parents and wouldn't mind building your own house on a portion of their land to stay close to home? If you see or hear about a neighbor or local family starting a business, make a point of supporting them. If we truly desire to thrive as small communities once again, we best return to a path of interdependence. No better way to do this than by encouraging and supporting the youth in hopes of keeping their dreams, ideas and energy around.

Michael Dagen lives and works in what he calls, "the suburb of Wadena" aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a songwriter, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors. Dagen is married to artist Amber Fletschock and you can track their doings at abandonedscoutcamp.com.

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