Pandemic influencing city dwellers back to rural communities
The great city exodus, rural communities attracting city resident back to Bigger open spaces, less bureaucratic control and lower taxes
We could dream of decarbonization, Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG), Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and Renewable Energy, as long as government keep increasing the costs to consumers and the cost of doing business, we will be forced to focus on the individual bottom line, that is survival in the most economical and effective way, which will not include the environment and the desired result government and the UN is driving for.
Our ancestors and indigenous people did not rely on taxes, Special Interest Groups (SIG), UN mandate and Government control to live responsibly with a take only what you need and leave it as you found it approach.
Legends and folklore in various parts of the worlds reflect the age-old practice of use but don’t waste.
From a Trinidadian culture, also known as ‘Maître Bios’ and ‘Daddy Bouchon ‘appear to be in many forms that guards the animals of the forest. He has many tells such as the sound of a cow’s horn to alert the creatures living in the forest if there are hunters in the area. He despises the destruction of his forest. There have been reports of Papa Bios appearing to hunters as a deer to lure them deep into the forest and then turn into his true form to issue a stern warning before vanishing. (a) (Morris, 2018)
The affordability and space offered by rural and small communities continues to be attractive to young and growing families. With the pandemic set in and most of us are house bound, there is a new realization that we can work form anywhere and living close to work is no longer an ecofriendly requirement. Looking at their options outside the city, now that working from home — or anywhere — feels more permanent. COVID-19 has brought new waves of “disaster gentrification,” raising some considerations for contemporary approaches to rural development and rural-urban dynamics.
Cities across North America are facing and ongoing dearth of affordable housing. As businesses and workplaces close and unemployment continues to spike, more and more residents will be squeezed to make rent payments. The cost of housing, food, local taxes and transportation continues to rise at nearly twice the rate of average incomes between 2008 and 2019.
As the coronavirus crisis and its economic, social and political fallout continue to sweep across America, it seemed the death of cities was imminent. Story after story charted a “great urban exodus,” as the affluent and advantaged from major cities start the exodus to the suburbs, rural farms , summer cottages or their winter getaways in Arizona or Florida.
This gloomy outlook is supported by a rapid succession of calamities that struck at cities in the wake of the pandemic — the most severe economic collapse, bankruptcies and job loss since the Great Depression; the metastasizing crisis for small businesses, retail, and arts and culture; and looming fiscal deficits for provinces, states and cities.
All of this is followed by the wave of social disruption in the form of riots and protests set in motion by the brutal police murders of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police, the slaying of Breonna Taylor who was shot eight times by Louisville police as she slept in her bed, and the killing of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s drive-thru in Atlanta, not to mention the savage murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a pair of would-be vigilantes in Glynn County, Georgia.
These acts reinforced and reflected the long history of racial division and injustice that stand at the root of American society. And at the same time, the Pandemic took its greatest toll on disadvantaged communities in city after city across the U.S. and around the world, people of all races and classes emerged from months of lockdown and social distancing to join in the fight against systemic racism, a virus that has ravaged America for far longer than Covid-19.
Would these intertwined crises put an end to the great urban revival of the past quarter century? It would be one thing if the death of cities thesis was limited to the familiar chorus of anti-urbanists and city bashers, but it was picked up and reinforced by the major media and even by some leading economists. “I fear that the prominence of the city, and particularly city centers, will decline,” is how Stanford University’s Nicholas Bloom put it. “First, the pandemic has made us much more aware of the need to reduce density. That means avoiding the subway, elevators, shared offices, and communal living. Second, working from home is here to stay. So why not live further out, where housing is cheaper?” As another commentator starkly put it, the big question was whether or not those who left cities would “ever return.”
Are People Really Leaving Cities?
The pandemic is encouraging us to rethink the way we frame how and where we work and to be more critical of why ideas of rural resilience can feel so appealing.
Epidemiologists recommend social distancing or staying a few feet away from anyone who might have the coronavirus. That's easier in spacious little towns with no mass transit, long lines or dense crowds. It may be simple to rationalize that where you have more individuals, you increase the likelihood of transmission of infections.
City dwellers are in transition and the City Disinvestment or “White Flight” phenomena is taking flight like we haven’t seen in decades, being driven by over regulation, high taxes, reduced services, pandemic spread due to densification, already beset by high rents, restricted access to elevators in high rise apartments and condos, clogged streets, crowded transit systems, the virus is now forcing urbanites to consider social distancing as a lifestyle.
A & P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.), 246 Third Avenue, Manhattan. 1936
Rural Pull, Urban Push
The key question becomes: who is this for?
We tend to focus primarily on cities in discussions about the complex nature of urban-rural migration. Everywhere else is peripheral. This tells us a lot about the position and perspectives of the people shaping decisions about rural futures: whether you are at the centre of the story or on its edges depends entirely on who is narrating.
It also reveals that people still choose to move to communities with the infrastructure and amenities that support their lifestyle aspirations and that allow them relatively easy proximity to their current urban networks. This makes more remote rural communities or those with less robust social and physical infrastructure (particularly broadband) unlikely to benefit.
Rural communities need adaptive, place-based investments that ensure they are not just attractive to potential new residents, but healthy and supportive communities for the people already living there and future generations still to come. Shifting our priorities to purposeful investments in supporting vibrant, inclusive, prosperous and uniquely rural communities will make all of our futures brighter, no matter which dot on the map we call home.
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Dave Gajadhar is an Advisor, Speaker, Educator, and an Advocate for Human prosperity and resource optimization at Resultant Group, business modernization, waste mitigation. Supply chain integration and transition advisors.
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