I was born and raised west of the 100th meridian and lived close to the land and people of western Kansas for more than 40 years. When I entered high school, I set a goal of knowing everyone in the school within two weeks and I accomplished that. I also knew the name of every street in town, thanks to my having a paper route. Within my lifetime, I have seen dramatic changes in both the land and people. When the Poppers first introduced their Buffalo Commons idea, I was governor and I came out guns blazing like Matt Dillon. Like many Kansans, I wondered what two East Coast academics could possibly know about the Great Plains. Seventeen years later, I must admit I was wrong. In some areas, from Alberta to the Rio Grande, the depopulation has been even greater than what the Poppers predicted. That was disappointing to me as my families’ roots are deep in western Kansas. My mother and father built a house in Atwood and lived at that same address for 51 years. During that same time period, I’ve had 29 different mailing addresses, exemplifying changing lifestyles.

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