Download Full Text (335 KB)
Historically rural community development was rooted in self-help and collaborative efforts. Often organized on informal bases, these social actions and behaviors fell into the general rubric of “being a good neighbor.” Lacking access to political capital and external resources, residents of many small communities discovered that if something was going to get done, they had to do it themselves. Cooperative community action such as building schools, churches, stringing early electrical lines, and other public goods were rooted in a common belief that neighbors helping each other was the only viable way to make community improvements. These shared values of helping each other were manifested in citizens investing in their own community for local development. One of the hallmarks of rural communities was doing it their own way and not accepting outside resources with strings attached.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Community Economic Development, Sociology
Agricultural and Resource Economics | Civic and Community Engagement | Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Rural Sociology
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publications in Digital Repository @ Iowa State University are made available for historical purposes only. The information contained in these publications may be out of date. For current publications and information from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, please visit
Lasley, Paul; Ferrell, John; and Arbuckle, J. Gordon, "The Role of Farm Families in Local Community Philanthropy" (2013). Extension Community and Economic Development Publications. 27.