Future Here Now: The Future of Rural looks a lot like its past
This week’s Future Here Now focuses on a particular type of location: the future of rural places, especially in the U.S. Rural places have been stereotyped as backward and slow to progress for much of the last 200 years, but a closer look at history shows us that most rural places were as deeply impacted by the Industrial Era as cities were.
It’s hard to imagine a more industrial environment than a shaft ore mine, or a early iron furnace, or a modern commercial farm. And the people who moved to rural communities during their industrial height often came from the same countries and cities as the immigrants who powered the massive factories and mills that we associate with the height of the Industrial Era.
So rural people have been hardly static. Given what we know of the Fusion Economy and its demands and opportunities, what does the future of rural look like?
One thing we definitely know: it will look different from its past. Because it always has.
“In Appalachia, where I’m from, we have a saying, mind your own business.”
“We are poor it doesn’t bother us. It’s just how we live. Keep your world we’ve seen it lol.”
comment on a rather rambly TikTok video titled “can rural places change?” about my early thinking on re-engaging with rural planning after over 10 years away.
Over the last 10 or more years, the challenges facing rural U.S. communities has surged back into the popular and policy consciousness in a way that it probably hasn’t since the 1960s War on Poverty. And too often, that challenge is framed exactly as this commenter framed it – Change Everything or Leave us the hell alone.
Either-or choices almost always obscure the real options. Especially in the Fusion Era. We don’t get the choice of not changing. We never have, especially in rural places.
Rural places have had nearly 300 years