Friday, December 4, 2009

Score One Great Plains!

Check out this incredibly interesting map and ponder why is America's midsection bleeding red?

The simple answer would be because it's so darn prosperous and beautifully contrary to popular belief about much of the Great Plains. According to a new STUDY released Andrew Isserman, an economist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, America's rural midsection is doing astoundingly well . Obviously, there are some glaring low points to be addressed around the nation. However, as a person with particular interest in the Great Plains and after reading much about the demise of the area and hearing word of these sentiments in books such as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Hollowing Out The Middle", it is refreshing to see some uplifting and positive data about my beloved great lawn of the nation.

The article points out that the statistical data were analyzed using somewhat different dimensions and ideas to define prosperity.  With close ties to the Great Plains, I can see how this would be beneficial.  Rural folks out on the plains still consider themselves to be America's Heartland and take a great deal of pride in knowing exactly what that means.  In particular, many of these people disdain measuring success purely by monetary gain and reject much of the popular sentiment being conveyed from the urban bookmarks of our nation.  Yep, out there, they still have some some strong core values, family ties and an unmatched work ethic.

Working to redefine success in one's own mind is a monumental task, especially while residing within the urban ethos. I am proud to see some researchers that realize the monumental differences between the urban rural ethic that so divides both populations socio-economically as well morally.  The intrinsic value of rural lifestyle cannot be measured, but is at least noted on a minimal basis with this survey.  According to this subset, the Great Plains in the above diagram easily depict their namesake as the blood red heart of our nation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Urban Water Reliance

In the event to continue to bridge the gap widening between America's urban and rural residents, I see it fit to shed some light on water and the great battle it wages in the western reaches of our nation.  This ARTICLE from Montana is a poignant reminder that urbanites must remember that their lives are not a free lunch among the grand buffet of nature. 

Coming from Colorado, I have witnessed the hard fight between the urban and rural contention over valuable water resources in the most convoluded water law state in the union.  However, I never realized this was not a way of life for everyone until I moved to Dallas where they routinely have more water than they would like.  Often I have heard or read about how much water rural agriculture uses and takes from cities available resources.  This concept is strange to me as I have come to understand most western urban residents have no idea that their water is actually a commodity that has been bought on their behalf from a rural landowner.  Their seeming misunderstanding is troublesome and at the core of the continued division between the two population.  Urban residents must remember that they do not have any right to water other than what their city is able to provide.  In contrast, rural landowner have junior and senior water rights and could be said to actually "own" the water on and beneath their ground.  Their use of this water provides the bounty for which the urban market clamours.  In contrast,  many urban uses of water provide nothing more than luxury items such as lawns, luscious landscapes, golf courses or car washes.  Yet, when the inevitable drought cycle (and yes it's a cycle, not global warming) strikes, they are panic stricken and looking for answers from all of the farmers using "their"water.

Urban residents need to be reminded that their life and luxury is predicated upon the hard work and resources of the rural public supplying them with food, fiber and natural resources.  Green lawns and car washes are a luxury, not a right. Food is not a luxury, rather a necessity and it requires water to create.  As the highlighted article suggests, urban growth and growth in general is important to an state economy.  But at what cost?  Why are we creating laws that are disproportionately unfair in their distribution of water assets?  If you are an urban resident, please remember to conserve your water before you ask the the same of others.