Community Revitalization Dialogue - Part III
American ruralism and the clash with modern values
In the New York Times on August 22, Abby Goodnough wrote about ruralism in Florida and what developers are looking for. The term ruralism in this case refers to the romantic notion that city and suburban dwellers are looking for peace and quiet. People are longing to own a pickup or tractor while watching birds in the day. It is the idea that people will buy a piece of the rural landscape to hear the wind in the trees.
The reason that the romantic notion of American ruralism is catching hold is that people long for a time that they remember and not what is reality. Many city and suburbanites grew up in rural areas and they want their children to experience that life. There is a major problem with this picture however.
Living in a rural setting that reminds them of the life that they may have grown up in is vastly different then what they really want. People want the convenience of “small-town” living without the hardships. Many rural communities existed for years and still exist with only the minimum resources to turn to. People long for that “chic” rural way of life but they also want Espresso houses, video stores and tanning salons in these communities. They want peace and quiet surroundings but convenience around the corner that living in the city brings.
If we are to promote the rural way of life as a means to help us attract people to our small communities in rural areas then we must be realistic with our marketing approach. What we need to make clear to everyone is that while rural living may appeal to many, it does not come without some price. To preserve our rural, local culture, as we know it, we cannot continue this schizophrenic desire to be both urban and rural.
Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or for more information contact Michael Holton at email@example.com
Center for Rural Affairs
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