New York Times has run a series of articles on the effects of rural depopulation in and around the Great Plains. They are good and well written pieces, although a bit depressing. Thomas Krannawitter, who hails from a small town in Kansas, has a few thoughtful paragraphs on the issue that is worth reading. A sample: "The economic consequences of this loss in population have been grave: of the poorest counties in the nation, more than half are found in the rural belt running from Nebraska down through parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, where there are few people, little commerce, and virtually no economic growth. For those who have never lived in a smaller midwestern town, they may view the shrinking population simply as a function of economic and demographic trends. But for those like me who know first-hand what it means to live in a place where your neighbors are your friends, there is something sad about it. As an observer explained in one of the articles, life in the Midwest is ’built on reciprocity and trust. You do favors without expecting you will be repaid, but you know you will be repaid by someone.’ That kind of character-building experience is hard to find in a city."