The Daily Yonder's coverage of rural economic issues, including workforce development and the future of work in rural America, is supported in part by Microsoft.
We often wonder here at the Yonder why some places make it and others don’t. Everybody looks for some program or step-by-step guide, when what they really need is a good dose of Canadian — as in Canadian, Texas.
“We specialize in being audacious,” Laurie Ezzell Brown, the editor of The Canadian Record, told New York Times reporter Jere Longman. “We haven’t accepted the fate of most dusty Panhandle towns. At some point, we decided not to curl up and die.” Longman wrote about Canadian’s football team — now 4-0 after years when it never won a playoff — but the story is really about a town that refused to go away. There are no programs mentioned, no grand state or federal grants, no Toyota plants or industrial parks. What Canadian seems to have are a lot of people who try things to make the town better, and who keep trying. The downtown is restored. The town has made investments in eco-tourism. It’s a commodities trading center. The richest guy in town has a broom and dustpan in the back of his pickup to sweep up trash he finds around town.
“We’re 100 miles from any place you can buy underwear,” said Tresea Rankin, 50, owner of the Bucket sandwich shop, who supplies seven restaurants across the Panhandle with her celebrated sourdough bread. “You make a choice. You can be of the world or have your own. We choose to have our own.” There you have it — the key to rural economic development.