We’ve explored a number of topics revolving around social problems we face in rural America, but just because we’re studying problems in rural America doesn’t mean everyone is miserable. Rural places are awesome places to live and there’s endless amounts of great things going on. But here´s our essential question today – can one make the case that you are happier living in a small town than anywhere else? To find out, we were very fortunate to discuss this topic with author & Knox College psychology professor, Tim Kasser. Dr. Kasser is well-known for his research on happiness which he’s conducted over the past 20 years. He is the author of several book such as 2002s¨The High Price of Materialism¨ and has been featured in documentary films like 2011s ¨Happy¨ which explored reasons why even though the US has the largest economy, we rank just 23rd in happiest nations throughout the world.
From January 2016 to January 2017, the region known as Forgottonia lost approximately 2,775 jobs. To learn why, we sat down with Dr. Trenton Ellis, a rural sociologist from Black Hills St. University. Although he lives in Spearfish, South Dakota, Ellis is a native of Forgottonia growing up in Canton, IL and graduating from Spoon River College in 2005. After SRC, Ellis completed undergraduate and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University in Macomb. In 2009 he matriculated to South Dakota State University’s Department of Sociology and Rural Studies where he graduated with a PhD in sociology in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded an outstanding Teaching Award at BHSU.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Ellis.
On this episode we wanted to share a cool experience we recently had in our psychology class. We were visited by the lovely Mrs. Karen Hahn a social worker from Psychology Specialists in Canton, IL. Karen’s visit is definitely consistent with our objective to examine the social problems we face in our own context of rural America; specifically these 16 counties in western IL referred to by many as Forgottonia. In fact if we want firsthand insights of what exactly the issues are and what it takes to overcome them, I’m not sure there’s anybody better to talk to then a social worker like Karen.
Part 1 – Karen’s Story (0 – 4 min)
Karen Hahn is a licensed clinical social worker at Psychology Specialists in Canton, IL. She grew up on a farm and was a good student throughout school. She wanted to be an accountant because they made money. She attended Truman State University to get a business degree, but discovered she had a passion for sociology. About 1.5 years later, she changed her major–despite her father’s protest– and got a degree in child and family health. From there she moved to Canton and worked at a daycare, with runaways, in the foster system, the college, and the community mental health system; all these places with a social service degree. Later she discovered a passion for working with hospice patients.