It's obvious the world is changing at a rapid rate. What an understatement.

The older generation reminisces about the time when the world moved a slower pace. Sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade in the evenings after supper, chatting with a neighbor over that white picket fence, taking the time for real conversations face-to-face as opposed to a quick text or Snapchat over a screen.

There was a time when a person's life centered on his or her town. Usually, he or she worked in that town or nearby, their children went to school in that town, they lived, shopped and worshipped in that town.

But oh, how things have changed.

In today's world, it's not uncommon for both mom and dad to commute an hour one way for work - and often across state lines in this region.

Kids' activities are no longer restricted to their block or even their school. They take part in sports and clubs that require traveling to multiple communities, which means they make friends in multiple communities. They may live in Bay City, attend school in Prescott, belong to Burnside Pluckies 4-H and take swimming lessons at the Red Wing Family YMCA.

Families don't always attend church down the street anymore: They commute for that, too.

As evidenced by stories of small businesses closing, consumers don't always shop in their towns anymore, but stop on their way home from work wherever is convenient.

The point is, our sense of community has changed. No longer is our world restricted to the doings of one community. Yes, we all have a "hometown," a place we call our haven. But the fact is, our horizons have broadened, whether we like it or not.

Our access to the world has expanded not only through extensive motor vehicle travel, but through digital devices. People can obtain almost any information they want by looking at a phone. Regional news has become more obtainable, more desired and more relevant.

What's going on in New Richmond, Wis., may very well have an impact on someone in Ellsworth, or Goodhue or Cannon Falls. An issue in St. Croix County government may have a counterpart in Pierce County - or Washington, Dakota and Goodhue counties across the state line.

Topics such as water quality, education, public safety, government, health care, entertainment and business touch us all. They are not limited to one community.

That is why the Red Wing Republican Eagle has expanded its definition of "local" news. As part of RiverTown Multimedia, we have created coverage teams. You have started seeing their work in pages.

So while maintaining your loyalty to your beloved hometown - whether you were born and raised there or chose it for your own, take the time to get to know stories from other communities. Because chances are, you can relate to them.

Don't narrow your horizons, broaden them.