Orange City stretches over about a square mile and a half of Iowa and has a modest population of 6000 people, give or take. It was founded by immigrants from Holland, but as anyone who lives here knows, predominate American culture is anything but Dutch.
However, this small town is flourishing and thriving while similar rural areas in America stagnate. Larissa MacFarquhar wanted to find out why. And what she found is fascinating, indeed. The town’s success is not based on economics, but on the special relationship the residents have with their community.
As MacFarquhar, puts it, "Orange City is one of the most conservative places in the country, and those who leave it tend to become less so. It is not despairing, however, nor is it stagnant. Change happens differently in a place where people tend to stay. But staying is not for everyone."
Orange City possesses a special brand of charm. And it is for that reason, according MacFarquhar, that a significant number of those who leave, eventually return — and many who grew up there never leave at all. MacFarquhar says that is what sets them apart from other rural areas in America and the cornerstone of their unusual prosperity.
The secret is planting roots. As MacFarquhar writes, "After all, it wasn't those who fled the town who would push it onward, politically or economically - it was the ones who loved it enough to stay, or to come back."
To read more about Orange City and the lessons we can learn from this thriving rural town and its people, click on the link below.