Below is an excerpt from an excellent article discussing varied misconceptions about rural life. You can read the entire article at the Center for Rural Strategies. Written by Dee Davis and Tim Merema.
The American image of rurality is a complex and contradictory amalgam of myth, wish, and fact woven into an idea that is simultaneously fundamental and antithetical to a national identity. Statistically, we have not been a rural people for the better part of a century. Today, the rural population of approximately 56.2 million people accounts for only one in five Americans. But rurality lingers in our national DNA. Our nation’s founders lived in and imagined a rural nation. They wrote a constitution and set up a government that reflected rural sensibilities and values. Rural America with its frontier antecedents has long been considered more than place. It is both a storehouse of our values and the point of origin for our national mythology. The countryside remains a source of essential American ideas and archetypal figures that transcend historic reality and become powerful and inspiring figures in our collective imagination.
But the rural America of our imagination is at odds with reality. The size of the rural population is shrinking dramatically in proportion to the overall U.S. population. Rural children who don’t move to the city as adults are the exception. The rural economy and its traditional occupations have been transformed by powerful forces beyond residents’ control. Suburban sprawl is obliterating the landscape and local cultures of many rural areas. Chronic poverty grips generations of residents of large rural regions. Yet the nation continues to point to rural places as a source of such values as economic independence, just rewards for hard work, community cohesion, strong families, close ties to the land, and others.
There exists a disconnection between the perception of rural life and its reality. This disconnection means the nation “can impart virtually any values we want” to rural people and places, writes scholar David Danbon. Like a complex sacred text or an abstract painting, rural America is open to interpretation. As a result, people as diverse as Jefferson, Thoreau, counter-culture commune builders, and the Aryan Nation have found inspiration there. “Whatever the reality of rural America, the idea of rural America will always be popular with major segments of the population because, in the last analysis, it is America’s field of dreams,” Danbon writes. [read on]
What a strange sight: Blue lines covering everything from the floor to the walls and all over the ceiling. If you look close enough at these gigantic blue roots, you realise that it’s all made of plastic rails, more precisely, of blue plastic toy rails we used to play with as kids! And if you look at the patterns longer, you recognise model stations and mountains alongside the rail tracks – one big diorama. You’d eventually find a pinhole-sized goat on top of the model mountain! Paramodel are Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano, an artist duo from Eastern Osaka, and they unfold such 3D, graffiti-like patterns on any surface: not only on the white walls of a gallery or the floors of a back-street factory, they extend their haptic art all over a Japanese onsen tub and don’t stop with even covering the water surface of a pond. PingMag was eager to meet up with the paramodel duo for a chat during their preparations for the Dialogue with the city exhibition in Yokohama.