Closure of services in small towns can have big impacts on the people who live in them.
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The only post office becoming no more, centuries-old pubs shutting down, a general store under threat of closing its doors for good.
Interfering with the demise of these sites, 'people power' has fuelled some awe-inspiring movements in the past.
But what typically comes first is a (forced) filtering of emotions - where people have to process what day-to-day life might look like if those places disappeared.
Not unlike a process of grieving, a strong sense of loss can be associated between people and places when this happens.
Usually it's because the link between somewhere and someone runs deeper, an expert told the Central Western Daily.
Charles Sturt University's senior lecturer in Communication, Dr Travis Holland spoke about people and a "sense of place" attached to the towns they live in.
The social impacts of those service closures can be unsettling for many residents.
"Any institution helps to create a sense of place and belonging and when those institutions start to disappear, particularly from small towns, that sense of place and belonging can be disrupted," Dr Holland said.
"The daily routines and the intersecting pathways that people literally take throughout the day can shape our social relationships and our social world so much that they just become the background.
"But you do notice it suddenly when it starts to disappear, or is under threat. [For example] we don't think about power lines until the power goes out."
Using two examples during his PhD studies, Dr Holland's research looked at the way tourism organisations and mining companies use a "historical narrative" to suit different purposes.
He found that those stories not only contributed to how a person sees the place that they live in, but how they see themselves within those places.
Strong bonds can be formed and be deeply attached to various infrastructure.
This means that when a well-known or cherished site is under threat, it can send alarm bells to someone's sense of identity
The answer is because it's all linked.
"From a communication theory background, I always look at it in terms of the stories that people tell; about who they are and how they relate to each other," Dr Holland said.
"People experience the social world through those stories, through figuring out how we relate to each other, and essentially those institutions can help to give form and be a repository [storage system] for those stories.
"And so any organisation or any institution - from the corner store, to the pub, to the local newspaper - has a role in telling and reinforcing those stories for people."
The communication expert said that infrastructure "performs its job really well" in terms of buildings and the like going quietly unnoticed.
I always look at [sense of place and identity] in terms of the stories that people tell; about who they are and how they relate to each other.- Senior lecturer in Communication, Dr Travis Holland
Paired with social constructs linking residents to those sites - which are often shops, relationships with people and so on - those places often convey information to help people feel connected.
Even without realising it, two essentially becomes one.
"[Those sites] just become an infrastructure that we don't see anymore until something breaks down, until they close or they disappear," he said.
"And while regional are towns struggling, we're often seeing real consolidation going on from the small towns into the larger towns."
Tied in with less access, the number of services getting concentrated in the cities, or central districts, have risen.
"And that's a problem for the outlying towns," he said.
"Because they do lose their identity somewhat as they get absorbed into the bigger towns."
Dr Holland said the COVID era also brought home "the importance of local" for people in their communities across the board.
During a time where we could only play in our own backyards, so to speak, many village flaws became exposed.
It was then that residents' level of realisation and care for their hometowns went on the up more than ever before.
Discussions marked areas lacking shade, footpaths that didn't exist, or pedestrian crossings that weren't quite up to scratch.
Conversations between friends or neighbours were sparked about walking miles to their nearest cafe for a simple cup of takeaway coffee.
"We probably have come to realise how important it is because once [travelling] gets shut down and you can't actually go anywhere, 'the local' comes into focus a lot more," he said.
"Suddenly you see a lot more in the local neighbourhood that you might've taken for granted before and I call it a refocus, because people start to build their worlds a bit more around what they can see.
"Imposed or shaped by some of those limitations [from COVID restrictions] that we saw, we started to notice."
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