Missouri sees growth in Amish communities – News

The Amish community in Missouri grew.

What does this mean for rural Missouri and community planning?

Dr. Krista EvansDirector of Planning at Missouri State University, has explored these questions in his recent research.

Local student project sparks interest

Evans’ interest in the relationship between the Amish and community planning was sparked while teaching one of her courses, Planning Practicum.

“During a downtown revitalization project with the students of Practicum, Seymour, I learned about the conflicts and issues that exist between the Amish and the English, or non-Amish,” Evans said.

However, among the local community there were also positive perceptions of Amish growth. People looked favorably upon the economic opportunities the Amish brought to the community.

“So I thought, ‘Hey, I need to dig into this. “”

Along the way, Evans discovered a gap in the literature.

“There is a lot of literature in the fields of anthropology and sociology on the Amish, but there is virtually nothing in the field of urban and community planning concerning the Amish,” she said. .

The process

Evans surveyed three Amish communities in rural Missouri: Seymour, Jamesport, and Clark Madison.

She started by talking with three planners and an Amish leader in each community.

“I spoke with planners at the regional, county, and city levels, in addition to a bishop or Amish leader at each case site,” she said. “I wanted to get their perspective on governance and land use issues.”

Fewer regulations, more interest

It turns out that Missouri is a sought-after region for this group of people.

Many counties in Missouri have no zoning or land use regulations, making the area very attractive to the Amish.

“The Amish are very interested in areas where there are very few land use regulations,” she said. “For example, typical zoning regulations might not allow horses in a residential area. No zoning allows the Amish not only to have horses, but also to run businesses away from home and live off the grid.

“Furthermore, the cost of rural land [in Missouri] is relatively affordable, unlike places like Pennsylvania or New York.

Change in cultural interactions

Evans also found that interactions between Amish and non-Amish (English) cultures were increasing.

Their traditional cloistered agrarian way of life is becoming less and less accessible.

It is not economically feasible for everyone to farm, so they turn to trades such as carpentry. “While cultural norms dictate that the Amish remain distinct from mainstream society, economic realities necessitate alternative means of earning a living,” Evans’ study concludes. “As the Amish pursue occupations other than agriculture, increased interaction with non-Amish results.”

Contribution behind the scenes

Many people would assume that the Amish would not participate in local governance or planning processes, but Evans found that to be untrue.

“The Amish actually participate in planning and governance processes; however, they usually do so indirectly. They will make their voices heard if their unique culture is taken into account.

For example, a planner running a community giving event needs to make sure attendees have a place to park horses and buggies, and not rely on cutting-edge technology, like smartphone polling during such events. Steps like these increase the chances of Amish participation in the planning process.

A concept of great importance

Evans’ research will be key to understanding community planning processes that include Amish voices.

“With the high birth rates they have and the number [of Amish] who are starting new communities in the area, we are going to experience significant growth in the Amish presence,” she said. “With this, it is important to understand how community planning processes can be modified to meet the needs of the Amish and English communities.”

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