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View Diary: A scary but enlighting map that gives me hope on second thoughts (130 comments)

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  •  LOL. (3+ / 0-)
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    RosyFinch, Shockwave, NotGeorgeWill

    Hon, I don't want to be patronizing, but from your words I feel confident that you are rather, um, young.

    First, people raised in cities might consider their environment "normal", but people raised outside of them don't, and never adjust -- not in an entire lifetime.  The noise, the stench, the crowds of ill-mannered people, are simply appalling.  And mind you, I wasn't raised in the country, just the fairly inner suburbs.  Like many of my generation, I made a beeline for as far out as I could get and remain employed, working at a small town hospital in rural Ohio.  The people I treated there, from the deep country, were afraid to drive into Cincinnati because of the dangerous levels of traffic.  I later drove there myself in order to work -- but thankfully, I did it at 3 a.m.

    Racial and ethnic diversity?  Yes, I love them.  Until they insist on turning their stereo speakers up so loud that I can't shut out what they call "music" (which sounds to me like someone shouting angrily in my face, NOT conducive to good mood) even by wearing earplugs.  Don't get me wrong.  I ran AWAY from a small town in Oregon because among other things I was getting the creeps from the lack of browner faces -- I had lived in Richmond Virginia for fifteen years, and not having black neighbors was just WEIRD.  But not having a decent Chinese restaurant, let alone an Indian or Vietnamese one, within an hours' drive was unliveable (grin).

    Social media?  Hardly.  Facebook gives you the opportunity to post intimate details of your private life for advertisers, and incidentally for people you already know.  Unlike an old-fashioned topical e-mail list or usenet, where you held long conversations with strangers until they became friends.  Social media is all about me, me, me.  I tell people what I am doing; I don't talk to them.  With a mailing list, I corresponded regularly with a hundred people all over the world.  REAL conversations, not fifty-word soundbites.  Social media is rather lame by comparison.

    Politically, the urban-rural divide is not as benign as you believe.  Look at the long swath of red linking the Dakotas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.  There's your New Confederacy, and note that it effectively divides the East from the West with several hundred miles of harsh and unfriendly territory inhabited by savages and crossed only at wide intervals by government-supported highways.  It's a strategic territorial advantage that outweighs the minimal local populations.

    But look, I'm not arguing that I wouldn't LIKE urban areas to export some of the good things in life out to the countryside.  I've finally found a Vietnamese restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia, for instance -- that's only two hours away from my cabin in the woods.  I would ADORE importing an Hindu neighbor or ten onto my mountain in the heart of rednecked evangelism.  There are probably six properties up for sale currently at low prices, ya'll COME!  Heall, I'm not picky -- it's mountain land, only good for goats and ginseng, and I'm lonely.  Somebody from Peru or Columbia or Albania might have the farming expertise to settle in and make good.  A good deal of what the back-country suffers from is inbreeding -- not just genetic, but cultural and educational.  In that sense, anything that opens minds and offers new ideas could work miracles.

    But it takes more than user-centered social media to do that.  Yes, ideas carried by major TV programs help to liberalize the rural young, but remember that the most closed-minded communities reject TV, and many rural communities still have limited access (for instance, I can't even get SATELLITE reception on my mountain).  Ditto for internet.  Yes, urbanophiles, consider the situation of people for whom telecommunications options are limited to a single overpriced provider with a local monopoly, aging copper wires, and no incentive to upgrade.  And that's in VIRGINIA, a wealthy Eastern state relatively close to massive government centers.  Actually, that's about an hour's drive from Blacksburg, one of the original hubs of the internet.

    So if you want to change those Red rural areas to Blue, you've got one option: you've got to go there yourselves, like I did.  In person.  Move out, move on!  Teach by being and doing.  Demonstrate to the people who only learn from other people the only way they will learn: by being there.  Anyway, there's a crying need for more permaculture and sustainable communities, and you have to have land to do that.  You're not going to afford that in crowded downtown areas.  You will never achieve basic food independence from corporate agriculture so long as you cede the mass of usable cropland to Monsanto.  So come on out!  

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