A recent posting on V2020 caught the INKster's eye, so she Googled the mentioned Web site to check it out. Earlier this month, The Progressive Farmer magazine released a list of the "Best Places to Live in Rural America." Each year, the rankings name the top-10 rural counties and profile each in the magazine. This year, Kent County, Md., was awarded top honors.So just what is a "Progressive Farmer" you may ask? (as well as why, since "Crime" is a ranking factor, did Latah County with a murder rate last year greater than most large U.S. cities rank as #55, but I digress.)
The magazine also listed the top 500 rural counties by region, and the INKster was pleased to learn some of the surrounding counties made the top 100 list in the Western Region.
Nez Perce County ranked No. 11 in Idaho, with Kootenai County No. 23 and Latah County coming in at No. 55. Asotin County in Washington ranked No. 70, but as the V2020 poster noted, "neither Whitman nor Spokane counties cracked the top 100."
As those chamber of commerce types continue to note, "things are lookin' good in the Valley."
I read what the magazine had to say about its top rated place to live, Kent County, MD:
By all reasoning, Kent County should be covered with homes, strip malls and "farmettes." But it's not. Not anywhere close. [And Kootenai County is #23 by this standard? Go figure. - tf]Then it became readily apparent to me. A "Progressive Farmer" must be a wealthy, well-educated escapee from some big city that lusts after open spaces and breathtaking views and is willing to deprive the locals of their progress and property rights in order to keep it. It's just the old elitist, drawbridge mentality.
Instead, Kent County is a rare holdout in the sprawl and development in this country that clearly is out of control. Kent County maintains a culture of farming, wildlife, and small towns and villages that are relatively untouched.
For a county to be in our Best Places list, we hold them to the usual standards—good schools, health care, safety and other desirable qualities. But what makes Kent County stand out is its residents' resolve to maintain a solid rural heritage. At the foundation of that effort is farmland preservation, something that started decades ago with foresight, cooperation and some far-sighted planning.
I'm frankly very happy glad Whitman County didn't make such a snobby list.