Refugee or not, many migrants maintain a deep attachment to the homeland. I see that in the Rust Belt Diaspora, exceptionally so for Pittsburgh natives. That's why when I see a good international diaspora story, I take notes. From Ireland:
The visitors came at the invitation of Ireland Reaching Out, an organization that just put on its first Week of Welcomes after a year spent tracking down the descendants of Galway exiles and preparing for their return.“The project is based on a very simple idea: Instead of waiting for people of Irish heritage to trace their roots, we go the other way,” said Mike Feerick, who has been leading the charge to rekindle ties between the Irish and their diaspora.“The people who left Ireland were in some sense the best part of us,” said Stephen Kinsella, an economist at the University of Limerick. “They were the most dynamic, the most ambitious, the most willing to succeed, and we did not give them the conditions where they could succeed.” ...... “I want Ireland to start thinking of itself not as a physical place, but as a people,” Mr. Feerick said, and he wants it to start acting like it, too, through local projects like the one in Galway.
The last two comments form the crux of my post. The people who left the Rust Belt were the best part of those struggling communities. That's the brain drain problem. The brightest are the most able and willing to leave. Hence, calling myself a "Rust Belt Refugee" is disingenuous. My father's move to improve was a strategic decision.
The second comment is the solution to the brain drain problem. Fixing the Rust Belt on a map is a debate, not a fact. Beyond reproach is someone who identifies with the Rust Belt. You don't have to be born there in order to feel a deep connection to Pittsburgh.
That connection is a pathway for economic development. That's diaspora economics. The Rust Belt is the most prodigious producer of talent the world has ever seen. Why that matters is the way forward for shrinking communities.