Remember the television show Cheers? “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.”

Small town life can be like that. Everybody knows your name. In fact, sometimes they know the name of your parents, your children, your siblings, your twice-removed-second-cousins, and the family dog!

While some people may believe that small town life has less to offer, I’ve been reflecting lately on the positives. My hometown and the surrounding small communities hold a special place in my heart. 

Small towns may not be flashy. Sometimes they’re only referenced when there’s a tornado warning.

This way of life is a best kept secret of the Great Plains. I love walking into the local grocery store and having a conversation with at least five other people before leaving with my groceries. Once, I forgot a pizza on the check-out counter. The owner of the store drove to my house and put the pizza in the freezer before I even made it home!

Local sporting events are fun – not just to encourage the local youth but to catch up with friends.

We wave at people when we’re driving.

We call a wrong number and still have a ten minute convo.

Many have discovered that no matter how fun it is to travel or live beyond this remote area, it’s still a great place to raise a family.

Not everything is perfect. Gossip and drama can travel fast. In the same way, good news also travels fast. So do prayers and casseroles when people are hurting.

I might live hours from urban shopping centers, major league baseball, and concert venues. However, I can also find a parking spot seconds from the door of almost any destination. I fight muddy roads and snow drifts with four wheel drive vehicles, but never the stress of traffic jams. 

The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular and unobstructed – just like on the ocean, except we look over waves of grass and crops. The air and tap water are clean. With no nocturnal light pollution, the stunningly vast number of visible stars makes it difficult to distinguish the constellations.

The people of small towns make these places vibrant despite some faded facades. The friendliness found on the Plains is genuine and unrivaled. The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well not just out of necessity, but because it’s fun to work alongside of friends when supporting the school, church, golf course, 4-H club, or charitable benefit.

Technology keeps us small-towners connected to the rest of the world in ways never imaginable a generation ago. That we also stay connected with fellow members of the community over a salted caramel latte in the local coffee shop makes it the best of both worlds.

There are challenges ahead for most small towns, but there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Our young people benefit from opportunities to see bigger places and new faces. It’s great to experience the amazing things offered elsewhere and then bring back fresh ideas and a broad perspective of the world. 

Make no mistake – I enjoy big cities. When I visit, I love the energy, noise, diversity, multitudes of people, museums, restaurants, shopping, music scenes, major sporting events, art, architecture, and all the attractions that are usually only found in major metropolitan areas. 

And then I love going home to the countryside in my flyover state.


Diane Karr

Diane Karr lives on a family farm in south central Nebraska with her husband and four sons. Besides chasing after her busy boys and the farm, she volunteers as a church organist. Diane graduated from UNL in 1996 as an agribusiness major, shares stories about farm life at, and is a volunteer for CommonGround Nebraska. She also enjoys Husker football, hazelnut lattes, cooking and baking, boating, photography, and spending time with family and friends.