An Exploration of Small Town America with State of the Re:Union, Cowbird & Hollow

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What’s THE ONE THING about your town… that made you stay? That made you leave? That made you… return?

Share your story on the website Cowbird, and your town could be featured on the award-winning NPR program State of the Re:Union in 2014!

People keep leaving rural America. According to U.S. Census figures from 2010, just 16% of the country’s population lives in rural areas, down from 20% in 2000, and down dramatically from 72% about a hundred years ago. Behind those statistics, though, is a whole collection of stories, both of the people who left their rural hometowns— and of those who’ve stayed, that small percentage of Americans who still live in the hollers, backwoods, and ranches of this nation. There are stories, too, of people who’ve returned, drawn back to the small towns they left for myriad reasons. We want to know those reasons, and the story of rural life that they tell.

In this partnership, State of the Re:Union, Cowbird, and the interactive documentary Hollow are working together to gather stories of small town America, and the narratives behind both the exodus and the forces that keep people from leaving.

There are so many things we love and hate about where we’re from…. Share THE ONE THING that made you decide to stay or go.

Here's how:


  Join Cowbird (it’s free!)

2 Sign in and click Tell a Story in the right-hand corner and tell a story starting with the line, “The one thing that made me stay…” or “The one thing that made me go…” or “The one thing that made me return…” Keep your story short—50 to 250 words.
3 Find a photo and/or some sound (in mp3 format) to illustrate your story, and add them to your story by clicking on the photo icon/microphone icon on the right.*
4 Before you publish, click on the tag icon on the right and write “The One Thing” (it should pop up as an option, which you can click). That will help us to find your story. HELPFUL HINT: You should also click on the globe icon on the right to tell us “Where” your story took place.
5  Hit publish and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or through Email. Congratulations! You’re done.
*Please no copyrighted material: only original photographs and recordings.

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