A very thought provoking comment on my short post on demographics the other by Melissa Seamans from a book "Communities & Consequences: The Unbalancing of New Hampshire's Human Ecology, and What We Can Do About It" by Peter Francese and Lorraine Stuart Merrill. As our school district begins the community conversation about moving the 6th grade class to the Academy, this is a good and relevant read.
Below are some excerpts.
“Loss or absence of members of one or another segment of a human community can have a profound impact on the health and prosperity of the whole. In New England, and particularly in our state of New Hampshire, we are starting to see that well-intentioned actions by members of small communities can have unfortunate long-term consequences for the region’s inhabitants."
"The most significant and potentially most harmful consequence is the high out-migration of young adults. This exodus will leave New Hampshire with slowing workforce growth, declining numbers of children—the future workforce—and a population aging at an even faster rate due to increasing numbers of older residents…."
The authors do offer solutions: “Fortunately, the unbalancing of New Hampshire’s human ecology is happening slowly enough that it can be changed. If people act soon, working together in towns and cities over the next few years, we can avert a very undesirable future.” The goal of this project is “to raise awareness of the negative outcomes of basing local residential development decisions primarily on one issue—school costs—instead of on the full range of social, economic, and environmental needs and concerns of balanced, vibrant communities.”
The authors believe that at some point, NH will reach a tipping point where the workforce will shrink , the healthcare costs for the growing older population will grow, and employers will not be able to find employees and will move to where the workers reside. It is avoidable and the book suggests that the solution is for citizens and leaders of our towns to push for a balanced community where people of modest means can live and work, and where young families are welcome.
Sounds simple right? It isn't of course, but we do need to start thinking a lot more positively about creating the future and definitely need to stop thinking that nothing can be done.
As the book concludes, "If people act soon, communities across New Hampshire have an opportunity to replenish their social capital and build a brighter, stronger future for all of us. "