Posts tagged “rural brain drain”

'Brain Drain': Put a Stopper in Your Mouth

A few years ago, at a conference about the woes of rural America, one speaker really caught my attention with a very simple message. “Never say ‘rural brain drain,’” She told us. “Think about it.” She pointed out that to say “brain drain” in a rural community is basically telling everyone  present — the people who stayed — that they’re dumb. You’re implying they somehow missed the boat and are demonstrating low IQ just by being rural. 

"West Virginia's Bleak Outlook"

A portrait of McDowell County, West Virginia (the same county Hollow will focus on). See the full story from Australian Broadcasting Company here.

I spoke to Jean Battlo (a resident featured in the segment) earlier today and she was quite disappointed about how negative the piece is. 

Home-stay tourism begins in Astam

POKHARA, Nov 7: In order to check brain-drain, around two dozen homes in Astam village in Dhital of Kaksi district have launched the home-stay service in the village. 

This initiative will provide economical accommodation to foreign tourists and employment opportunities for local youth who are otherwise migrating aborad for work, locals said. 

Local tourism entrepreneur Jhabi Adhikari said that the villagers have started the home-stay service with the hope that the flow of tourists will increase with the passage of time and this will help create employment opportunities right within the village. “We have started this service in order to stop the flight of human capital and to bring back those youths who have been working abroad,” added Adhikari.

Most youth go abroad due to lack of employment opportunities in the village. “If the youth can be engaged in the tourism sector in the village itself, they do not need to migrate to foreign destinations for jobs and this can help boost domestic tourism as well,” said another tourism entrepreneur Bishwo Raj Adhikari. 

Immigration and ageing population will "put pressure on Wales' public services"

A Welsh economist also warned that the stats reflected a “worrying” trend in a “brain drain” of young talent leaving Wales for the rest of the UK and further afield.

Professor Brian Morgan, an economist at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said that young people were leaving Wales far faster than they were coming in.

“That is a problem, especially putting that together with older people coming into Wales,” he said.

“They bring with them pensions they have accumulated, and I don’t necessarily think there would be an increased strain on the economy as a whole, but they certainly dampen the effect on GDP, as they are not in the workforce.

'We Don't Have to Die'

A rural Texas’ town’s struggle with rural brain drain. 

Seven out of ten rural young people in one survey said they had never been asked how they would make their communities better. That’s a big mistake. Adults need to ask.

Increase to stop brain drain in Fiji

Fiji’s struggle with rural brain drain.

Photo-Documentary: Coal Mining in Appalachia

Photographer, Les Stone, has been photographing the coal industry for the past 3 years in McDowell County. There are some really beautiful photos on the blog. It seems there is a new project about coal mining coming out of West Virginia on a daily basis ( and there has been for the past 50 years). Growing up in a coal-mining family I believe it is time that we start sharing stories from West Virginians who aren’t coal miners. Hollow will focus on the MANY other people—artists, students, entrepreneurs, teachers—and unique characteristics that make up the communities across Southern West Virginia.

Will the postman soon be as mythical as the milkman?


I have read several stories like the one below about the closing of post offices throughout Southern West Virginia. I wonder if one day “the postman” will be just another mythical character in our imagination like the “milkman.”


Residents in Southern West Virginia are expressing concern about their mailing system ahead of possible post office closures. Now, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is urging the postmaster general to halt the closures until “you can provide the American public with a practice and realistic plan for managing and responding to their concerns.”

According to a release from Rahall’s office, the USPS Appalachian District has scheduled more than 40 public meetings, “raising doubts that the postal service can appropriately manage the public feedback received from each meeting and prepare for continued mail delivery should a closure occur.” 

Other members of West Virginia’s Congressional delegation have expressed concern over possible closures. Rahall joined Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both R-W.Va., and Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., in writing a letter to Donahoe expressing their concerns about potential job loss.

Manchin said that he understands the postal service’s situation, but West Virginia workers should not have to “bear a disproportionate share of cuts.”

"West Virginians are the hardest workers I’ve ever met, and the postal service should take advantage of our excellent workforce instead of cutting jobs," he said. "My office stands ready to help any workers who may lose their jobs in this process, and I encourage the post office to give anyone who is laid off the help they need. It’s clear the post office needs to change how it operates, and I will continue to pus them to make changes that don’t affect hardworking frontline employees."

Rahall also questions the postal service’s motives for closing rural facilities. He said the USPS statutory charter requires the postal service to provide “a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services” to rural areas that lack a self-sustaining post office facility. This rule, he says, prohibits small post offices from being closed for operating at a deficit.

Every Friday I will be sharing interesting facts/details about Southern West Virginia, particularly McDowell County…Did you know that Steve Harvey was born in Welch, West Virginia? True story. Harvey was born in Welch, the son of Eloise and Jesse Harvey, a coal miner.His family moved to Cleveland and shortly after high school he attended Kent State University and West Virginia University.

Every Friday I will be sharing interesting facts/details about Southern West Virginia, particularly McDowell County…Did you know that Steve Harvey was born in Welch, West Virginia? True story. Harvey was born in Welch, the son of Eloise and Jesse Harvey, a coal miner.His family moved to Cleveland and shortly after high school he attended Kent State University and West Virginia University.

‘The Glass Castle’- Best selling author comes to Bluefield College’s symposium



Admirers, readers, students and faculty shared an evening with best-selling author Jeannette Walls Thursday evening as part of Bluefield College’s year-long symposium titled “Celebrate Appalachian.”

A former resident of Welch, Walls memoir ‘The Glass Castle’ told about her impoverished youth in the Southwest and growing up in McDowell County. The book became a New York Times Best Seller and was rated one of Amazon.com’s Best Books of the Decade for the 2000s.

Walls was on Bluefield College’s campus Thursday night to discuss her book and will be there today to talk with college freshman who have read the memoir.

Phyllis J. Owens, assistant director of the Bluefield College Division of Education, is also Walls’ former ninth grade English teacher. Owens said it was an honor to have her former student return to speak at the college.

“It is just a double honor to have her here,” Owens said. “She is so gracious to come, and we are so honored to have her. The freshmen students this year read her book and it was selected by the faculty. The reaction students have had to the book is wonderful. Our students have enjoyed reading about a person most of them describe as ‘real.’ Many of our students have indicated their life or the life of someone they know has been similar to hers. Her resilience is really what they admire.”

Walls said she dealt with a lot of shame as she worked to tell her story in the memoir.

“I never told anyone in my life about digging for food out of the trash,” Walls said. “I must have written that scene 20 times. If you are going to be honest, then you have to tell the whole truth. You have to be open and confront things that embarrass you.”

According to Walls, the reaction to the book showed her she was not alone in her experiences.

“After the book was published has been the most transformative period in my life,” she said.

“Shame is an isolating emotion. I thought no one else had gone through this or experienced this. No matter where I am — whether in West Virginia or New York or California — people come up to me and say the details may be different, but that they had an experience similar to mine. It has created a world of friends rather than enemies. People are ashamed and they will tell their stories to me. The book gets other people to tell their stories and to share what they’ve gone through, or someone else has gone through.”

During her speech, Walls thanked Owens and her former high school science teacher who had come to the event.

“There are so many educators in this world who change lives,” Walls said. “I hope you, educators in the room, never forget your impact on students and their lives. I think education is the great equalizer. The second most important thing is respecting the kids and giving them a sort of dignity. I don’t want sympathy and I don’t want pity. Pitying someone only gives them permission to pity themselves. It’s so easy to stereotype people, to stereotype kids who are ‘from the wrong side of the tracks.’ Everyone has a story and, if you listen to that story, you find out what people are really like. Kids in poverty just want the same opportunities of everyone else.”

Walls said there is much debate over whether her parents were good caretakers or abusive to her and her siblings when they were growing up. Walls said she chooses to believe in the good in her past.

“Everything in  life is a blessing and a curse,” she said. “We choose what to focus on. I think I had a wonderful, magical childhood, which was rough at times. I hope people can learn something from my life. Most of all, this book is not about me. It is about what the readers get from my story.”

Ghost Town, U.S.A. from Elaine McMillion on Vimeo.

I interviewed Ed Shephard back in August in his hometown of Welch, West Virginia. He talks about the changes he has seen over the past four decades and what he thinks the future holds for McDowell County.

Read the story that inspired this project

When Ry Rivard shared this article from “The Chronicle of Higher Education” with me along with and a list of “dying towns” supplied to him by a demographer at West Virginia University, we both knew this was a story that needed to be told. This article talks about the issue of “rural brain drain” and the term “hollowing out.” It was written to compliment the book "Hollowing Out The Middle."

The most dramatic evidence of the rural meltdown has been the hollowing out—that is, losing the most talented young people at precisely the same time that changes in farming and industry have transformed the landscape for those who stay. This so-called rural “brain drain” isn’t a new phenomenon, but by the 21st century the shortage of young people has reached a tipping point, and its consequences are more severe now than ever before. Simply put, many small towns are mere years away from extinction, while others limp along in a weakened and disabled state.

In just over two decades, more than 700 rural counties, from the Plains to the Texas Panhandle through to Appalachia, lost 10 percent or more of their population. Nationally, there are more deaths than births in one of two rural counties. Though the hollowing-out process feeds off the recession, the problem predates, and indeed, presaged many of the nation’s current economic woes. But despite the seriousness of the hollowing-out process, we believe that, with a plan and a vision, many small towns can play a key role in the nation’s recovery.</span>