Friday, November 27, 2009

Rural Divestment in the 21st Century

A typical Thanksgiving in America gives the majority of our population a chance to engage in a great many traditions surrounding our national day of giving thanks.  The two that I have in mind are relatively simple, yet undoubtedly widespread: gracious eating and time around the TV.  In fact, a portion of my Thanksgiving revolved around these two normalities.  I'm not a particularly devout television watcher (although I make time for Storm Chasers every Sunday) so I am not particularly abreast to the latest in sports, sitcoms or commercials for that matter.  However, if you have been near a television in the last couple months, it would have been difficult tot miss the onslaught of  IBM commercials aimed purporting a smarter planet and smarter cities. See below.

Great!  America, and the world for that matter, are getting smarter.   Or are we?  Unfortunately, this thoughtful and well intentioned ad campaign has left me with one single question:  What about rural America? Has the tide finally turned where the great corporate engine turns it's back on the resource providers and laborers of this great nation?  Now that the scale has tipped towards an undeniable urban trend, who is thinking about smarter ways to engage rural populations as a valuable member of the national ethos?  I understand that cities need to be smarter, especially considering the massive population influx that is occurring.  However, would it be equally smart to encourage stable populations in rural areas and small towns as a catalyst to alleviate the constant stress of the urban complex while promoting growth among the blighted rural populous?    Therefore, are we divesting in the success of our nation as a whole to promote the growth of an unstable and unsustainable urban population influx?  Ad campaigns such as this leave me with this question thoroughly ingrained.


  1. Making cities more desirable is the best thing that can happen to rural communities. All our best, deep lowland soils are becoming permanently encrusted in suburban concrete because people don't want to live in "cities."

  2. Mat,

    Thanks for your comment. I'm going to have to say that this issue definitely depends on perspective and geographic local. The rural communities I observed in New York when I have visited there were much different than the Western rural that I often picture. For these small western communities, there is no such thing as suburbanization, just cities. The eastern rural is much closer and denser and probably would benefit from higher urbanization. However, out in the great plains and the west, urbanization spells death for rural communites.