Urban and Rural Populations.

 
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Rural areas cover 97 percent of the nation's land mass but contain less than 20 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau. Many parts of rural America suffer from a loss of industries and population, and the isolation can deepen division among the remaining residents. Exchange programs that help build connections between rural and urban residents, despite a political and social climate that can put them in opposition, may be a way of encouraging economic prosperity and sustainable development, according to Stateline.

The Kentucky Rural Exchange Program (RUX) is an example. This group, which is supported by donations and grants, including a $45,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, brings together Kentuckians who are interested in getting to know different areas of the state while developing their professional and leadership skills. "They take part in three intensive meetings in various communities to build connections across cultural, racial, economic and geographic divides. Participants engage in conversations and activities that can challenge their identities as Kentuckians but also help them to see their similarities," the Stateline article explained.

A city councilmember for Louisville Metro and RUX member traveled to Kentucky's largest coal country, "a region with pockets of lively arts and culture offerings that also struggles with entrenched poverty," according to the article. Visiting Whitesburg, Kentucky, where the population has dwindled to about 1,900, the councilmember developed a greater...

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