It’s about more than camping. It has to be. Afforded a comfortable level of material wealth, are we now challenged to advance to a higher standard of being? The first phase of a longer-term goal is to develop a location with services that support the experience of contemplation in a rural environment.

I consider the future based upon present trends and ask myself if the status quo can continue. I’m concerned about the future of communities and the economy. How do we promote opportunities to live in harmony with our environment and one another? If city populations increase in the future as predicted, what will happen to rural populations?

The rural landscape is a green pasture of possibilities. While the wild vistas of natural environments are not manicured, they are structured. Processes that respect the ecosystem of our planet are regenerative, harnessing laws of ecology that sustain life. The future is connected. Sustainable opportunities promote the future. Shared experience and knowledge contribute to understanding each other. The ability to relate to the humanity of others builds connections.

I grew up in Central New York on the land to be the location of C Trail. The property is a beautiful resource with natural splendor and potential. However, towns in the area are facing challenges. Trends indicate that the population of young residents is dwindling. Agriculture is the dominant land use. Food production is important, however its appeal suffers from crude stereotypes.

Technology is advancing quickly in all industries, including agriculture. New modes of value-added agriculture including agri-tourism are growing with the behaviors of aware, connected consumers. The understanding and adoption of technology is imperative to enhance the cohesion and relevance of contemporary communities. People are transformed by the examples and expectations around them. Experts in online activities cultivate local advances by spreading fresh ideas. Portals to the digital economy become familiar with proximity to physical businesses.

The settlers of this country built strong, local networks as they pushed forward into new frontiers. Increasingly diverse economic activity consolidated specialized means of production, creating a disconnected workforce literally driven to the edges and requiring longer commutes, dispersing local connections. Small communities faced increasing challenges to be the vibrant, supportive places they once were.

Things are shifting again. High-speed bandwidth is reaching into more sparsely-populated areas. The means of production of digital work is a common laptop or tablet. Even the tools to transform physical material into products can be reasonably acquired for home-based businesses. As connections to the Internet proliferate, the advantages of the city and country are changing. A new paradigm repopulating rural areas would make them more vibrant and revitalize rural life to make it more desirable for youths. If virtual connections among residents of sparsely-populated regions is as effortless as connections to the next cubicle or building, what is the future of connectedness? Would a balanced life include a healthier relationship with nature? Can digital work coexist with the natural processes of growing food and stewarding our natural environment? The edge of a city, village or town is not a hard line and rural is as rural does.

Maybe it isn’t your thing to be in a serene environment with a wide vista of nature, growing, organic. As a rural resident, maybe there IS an app for that…IT. What do we need to share to cross-pollinate ideas and experiences?

It won’t happen without the collision of these forces. If we expect that the food and beverage we consume is easily produced elsewhere and nature is as trivial as a screen saver then we lose the real source of our humanity. If the natural rhythms of a rural lifestyle seems slow-paced, what is a faster pace providing? We can achieve more by working together. Sharing a greater appreciation for the multitude of lifestyles benefits everyone.

Is the distribution of goods and services the reason we flock to cities? Virtual and material distribution networks are now ubiquitous. Work can be anywhere. Are micro-communities and production more valid with the information technologies that are now prevalent? In the city, land is measured in square feet. In the country, land is measured in acres. The market value of a 100-acre (4,356,000 square feet) plot of land in the country is often less than a plot 1/1000th the size in a desirable suburban location. Wider webs of connected homesteads would support more parity.

We all have biases that give our lives order. Each of us have blindspots that justify self-serving actions and challenge clear and truthful thought. Can we learn to see differently? The predominantly older, white residents of Central New York appear an affront to diversity, but beware your assessment. Everyone’s choices can positively contribute and it’s never too late to make new connections.

We move ourselves and things around a lot. Why do we relentlessly drive to the market for food when it can grow outside our home? Considering how youth originates ideas and insight, does life experience that instills humanity lead to a different mode of identifying and solving problems? How much value is in a digital product? Virtual experiences cannot be sustained without the physical world. In the opposite case, truth is pending. Tomato 2.0 may be interesting, but Tomato 1.0 is still compatible. Sometimes older technologies are just as good, if not tastier.

There are many problems to be fixed. We all need to roll up our sleeves and dig in the dirt once in a while. What value are the skills to build and repair? There are many desirable activities that happen in a chair, and outside as well. Physical, mental and emotional health is not without a full-time investment. Invest in your nutrition and your well-being. The laws of ecology apply to a sustainable life.

As an entrepreneur, I try to solicit engagement and build opportunity around ideas. I feel that the future of work is collaborative. To best serve the community that will participate in this business, each stakeholder must be active.

The future of rural living depends on new ideas that reposition it in the digital economy. Rural areas are wonderful destinations that can now be reached online. Future possibilities are rife with connections, including the business and educational opportunities at myriad locations. Tourism is a flow of people augmented by exchanging ideas, collaborating and disseminating experience and knowledge.