From the standpoint of a community, Greensburg is now an important town. Before the tornado it was just another dying town in western Kansas. Everyday small towns across the high plains become more rural. Every time a school, store or post office closes, or the local paper is not printed anymore, or a building or a house is torn down in one of these small towns, the countryside slips in a little bit more. But Greensburg is still being built and promoted as a place with a future.
Someday Greensburg could be one of only a few existing towns in western Kansas. This would mean Greensburg would be a center of regional business and stable population – a settlement or frontier outpost as it were. Future travelers could be told in places like Wichita, “well there are a few towns left out there in the western part of the state, Greensburg is a notable one”.
It’s hard to imagine population and opportunity could further dwindle to hear a conversation like that. But the reason for bringing western Kansas into this perspective is not all silly when you observe the exodus communities across the Great Plains have struggled with for years. When the land is claiming back its prairie vista by drought, depleting aquifer and lagging opportunity, what can we dare to see?
Some may think the ideas expressed here disregard the new wind farm and booming oil industry that is bringing added prosperity to Kiowa County, that instead it is evidence we are moving ahead and will continue to grow in western Kansas. But the local economic boom is not incompatible with a hundred more ghost towns lost out there on the prairie. You can read about it almost every Sunday in the Hutchinson News.