Embed America: The fading of small towns
Gary Person, 41, cooks at the Chatterbox Cafe in Lone Rock Iowa, a town struggling to keep young people. Person says he'd leave if he could find other work.
July 21st, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Embed America: The fading of small towns

By Lisa Desjardins and Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Lone Rock, Iowa (CNN) – The American small town, the inspiration for singers and playwrights and a cornerstone of the American identity, is in danger. Across the country, rural populations are dropping and the average age of their residents is rising.

Rita Schroeder, a resident of Lone Rock, Iowa says:

[3:20] "I’m scared to even think about it because as we lose one place after another it almost makes us feel like we’re a little dying town. But we don’t want to think that."


Embed America: Postcard from Arkansas
John Burbee and his son dig for treasure at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.
July 21st, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Embed America: Postcard from Arkansas

By John Sepulvado and Jonathan Binder, CNN

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas (CNN) – As we travel across the country for Embed America, we're filing occasional "sound postcards" from the road. CNN Radio's John Sepulvado sent this postcard from Crater of Diamonds State Park, where families come carrying shovels with the hopes of striking it rich.

Arizona, Georgia, California, Florida and at least 20 other states have cut park funding due to budget shortfalls. Overall, it seems the public views the parks as a low priority. A June CNN poll revealed that Americans did not list preserving the environment, maintaining park space or keeping them operational as important issues this election.

One park visitor, John Burbee, says he’d like to see the parks fully funded:

"In our family, it’s something we use a lot. And we like to think of the land as something we’re borrowing from our great grandchildren. [1:27]

You can see all our Embed America coverage here. And track the team's progress on our Embed America map.