Just over six years ago, my adolescent brother Cory wrote me a affecting email. Afterwards hardly accepting apparent nor heard from him for several years, I was afraid to acquisition in my inbox a lengthy, anxious amend on his life. (We had not been on the a lot of affable of speaking agreement above-mentioned to that due to conflicts accompanying to his biologic addiction.) In his message, he batten about his contempo move from the mountains of rural Appalachia to Austin, Texas. In Austin he had assuredly begin a association that was active in his addiction recovery. By volunteering at bounded attainable charities, anxiously accessory a ball association and altering his plan belief to be beneath abrupt and added deliberate, he was able to see the accent of “the greater good” over the accent of the “temporal indulgence” of his addiction.
In animosity of his accepted contentment, however, he bidding to me some affliction over award his alcove in such a ample city.
As he wrote:
“The alone down ancillary to [Austin] whatsoever is that its citizenry is abundantly fabricated up of adolescent able individuals that all came from about that acceptable needs them. The “brain drain” aftereffect to the max. There are so abounding amazing humans actuality reciprocating activity off anniversary other, I can’t advice but anticipate about all the baby towns that are missing that antecedent of personality and income… “
I apprehend these words from the computer lab at my medical academy in the better city-limits in the US, New York City. I was demography a abstraction breach from neuropathology. As a second-year medical student, I was spending twelve to fourteen hours at the medical academy architecture on East 69th street. What little remained of my alive hours was spent walking to and from my accommodation on East 77th street. Looking out the window at the active circle of East 69th artery and York-one abounding with fast-walking pedestrians to and from the barrio in the New York Presbyterian and Memorial Sloan Kettering medical centers-I wondered how our association would attending if all the advantageous jobs in the abridgement were in rural areas.
Imagining this academic scenario, I began a anticipation agreement that I still echo from time to time to this day.
What if the bread-and-butter beforehand over the accomplished 200 years went in the administration not of urbanization but of ruralization?
In the 1800′s, able-bodied over 90% of the US citizenry lived in rural areas. In 1900, that bulk had alone to 70%. Today, a paltry 19% of the US lives in a rural area. What if the statistics were reversed? What if 20% of the US lived in cities while 80% lived in the country?
Now, afore I beforehand to far into this status-quo analytic band of thought, I wish to acknowledge aboriginal and foremost that I don’t hate, or even lament, the actuality of cities. I’ve lived in New York City, Boston, London, Madrid, and Houston, and I’ve begin a appropriate affection for every one of them. I admired getting able to get up and airing down the artery to civic conferences while active in New York City-limits and in Boston. In Madrid, I adored the Cercanías alternation that could get me from Madrid’s Barajas airport to my wife’s accommodation abreast ‘Nuevos Minesterios’ busline stop aural bisected an hour, acceptance me to drive every anniversary from my doorstep abreast Brussels to her doorstep in Madrid aural a few hours. I adulation the cultural, amusing and bread-and-butter affluence that cities accept to offer.
Back to the anticipation experiment.
If we brainstorm the rural/urban arrangement of present day burghal association getting not 20% rural: 80% burghal but rather 80% rural: 20% urban, the current-day countries that would fit the bill would be ones like Swaziland, Malawi, or South Sudan-countries which accept not enjoyed even abutting to the bulk of bread-and-butter beforehand as Western countries accept over the accomplished two centuries. The accompanying beforehand of bread-and-butter standards of active alongside urbanization could betoken on the one duke that urbanization leads to bread-and-butter growth. So has been the argument-urbanization leads to efficiency, economies of scale, bread-and-butter growth, etc. This trend could aswell betoken that the urbanization and bread-and-butter beforehand are artlessly allusive trends and that one does not necessarily advance to the other.
If we could put actual blinders on-which I apperceive is not absolutely possible-would it be attainable just for a moment to anticipate a association with the bread-and-butter accepted of, say, Switzerland (GDP per capita $84,000/year) while still advancement a rural: burghal arrangement of 80% rural to 20% urban?
Many would say ‘absolutely not,’ but if we anticipate for a additional about capital bread-and-butter casework that are associated with urbanization could just as able-bodied be supplied in a rural-based economy.
Take aliment assembly to start. The all-inclusive majority of Americans’ aliment accumulation could apparently be supplied by home gardening. Abounding homesteads accept been able to accumulation their absolute year’s accumulation of aliment with just a half-acre lot on which to abound vegetables and accession livestock. If specialized foods are needed, abounding can be acquired locally or even bartered for. And if families ache from poor harvest, dearth or pests, those with affluence could abutment those with beneath autumn through association pantries-on a bounded level-or inter-region food-sharing agreements on a beyond scale.
Electricity, as well, could apparently be supplied to a ample citizenry in a rural-based economy. Solar panels (especially with advances in production), hydroelectric energy, wind activity and simple conservation-from not befitting ample burghal appointment barrio running-could accumulation abundant of people’s bare electricity. And if deposit fuels are needed, there is annihilation preventing ability plants from bartering people’s ability in rural areas.
As well, busline can be fabricated about as attainable in burghal areas as it can be in rural settings. Cars of advance accept been the ‘staple’ of rural families in this country, but that doesn’t accept to be so. If added humans paid for trains to go to rural areas (as in France and abundant of the blow of Western Europe), a flourishing, all-encompassing alternation arrangement could carriage humans amid rural cities for abundant beneath activity than cars could. As well, even air biking could be fabricated acutely attainable to rural areas by either self-piloting or accommodating buying of planes, area groups of families allotment buying of planes. Abounding Alaskans administer to reside hundreds of afar from the abutting city-limits by aerial their own planes.
Finally, superior healthcare could, I would argue, be delivered in a rural-based economy. Country doctors (general practitioners) could accumulation the lion’s allotment of medical care, and if added specialized affliction is necessary, abundant of it could be handled through e-consults online (as is more the case in rural settings). Abounding lab tests can be performed on a accommodating bags of afar away, and imaging could be apprehend by apprehend by a radiologist from around anywhere. Admitting as abundant as 80% of people’s medical needs could be met in a primary affliction setting, absolutely there are cases area a being needs a anaplasty from a abroad surgeon or a biologic beverage from a appropriate blight center. But-with a able-bodied alternation system, aerial accommodating or claimed aircraft-a accommodating could just as able-bodied biking a thousand afar in a day. And for the appearing procedures, there are means to acclimate to rural settings (e.g. ambulances with CT scanners and clot-busting agents for strokes).
I will stop my anticipation agreement here. I accept said annihilation of entertainment, sports, or apprenticeship in a rural-based economy, admitting I anticipate that they can all be fabricated attainable to a lot of humans in the book I’ve just described. That will be for addition post.
My point is not to accomplish a Luddite case adjoin avant-garde technology-which I actual abundant appreciate-but to accession the catechism of whether the accompaniment of urbanization that we’ve accomplished in the West needs to be the cachet quo.
After account my brother’s message, I took an continued breach from my studies to compose a reply. I thanked him for autograph and encouraged him to abide in his association account endeavors that helped him “climb one bedrock higher” over his addiction. I aswell proposed that he and I yield a cruise together, to reconnect afterwards years of abstract wrought by addiction. He replied quickly, adage that “he wouldn’t miss” the befalling to absorb much-needed time together. He abominably suffered a bike blow afterwards that, afterwards which he relapsed and concluded up in prison. Several years later, though, we were assuredly able to accomplish that cruise together. Afterwards over a decade of estrangement, we absolved the Primitive Way of Saint James, reconnecting in the mountains of Asturias-hours abroad anatomy any city.
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