The purpose of this paper is to confront the notion of "decline" at the village level by illustrating a more immersive approach to sociological and demographic research within rural and remote communities. The research uses case studies of three villages in Australia, Canada, and Sweden, all of which have been labeled as "declining villages," typified by population loss, an aging population, high rates of youth outmigration, and loss of businesses and services. This paper argues that focusing solely on quantitative indicators of demographic change provides a narrow view of rural village trajectories and ignores subtle processes of local adaptation that are hidden from quantitative data sets. Our research integrates quantitative data from the "outside" with qualitative data from the "inside," including visual ethnography, to develop a more balanced perspective on how villages have been changing and what change could mean locally. These objectives are accomplished by revisiting a Dirt Research methodology applicable to a broad range of research into rural and remote villages.