Sometimes things just click. Take the last couple of days, for example.
FROM THE GROUND UP
First, my friend Susie introduces me to Micah White. White, one of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has written a book, called The End of Protest.
Susie knew I’d like White’s tome for two reasons: (1) he lives in tiny (population 278) Nehalem, Oregon (my beloved birthplace), and (2) he argues the next big — as in global — wave of revolutionary social & economic change is going to happen in rural Cascadia.
That’s right. Us. Revolutionaries. White believes real planetary change is going to occur, slowly but surely, from the ground up. And that it’s going to start in the small towns and rural regions of northern California, western Oregon and Washington, and — wait for it — pretty much all of British Columbia.
IF A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST…
Secondly, I was in Kamloops the other day, talking about rural development in BC. The meeting served to remind me of both how much is going on “out there,” and how little most of us know about it.
This isn’t a trivial issue. We miss out on so many opportunities to cooperate and collaborate, to learn from one another’s successes and failures, precisely because we have no real means of staying in touch with one another, no way of sharing information & inspiration between communities and regions in rural BC. Distance, rugged terrain, and often-crumbling infrastructure are traditional obstacles to effective communications in our part of the planet.
Today, that’s a problem. Tomorrow, it’s an opportunity.
And lastly, I was listening to BBC over coffee this morning as an editor from Atlantic Monthly explained that most of the big investments in Silicon Valley these days are going into AI — Artificial Intelligence — start-ups. In five years, he warned, millions of jobs, white collar as well as blue collar, are going to begin to go the way of the Dodo. “There’s no escape,” he said. “The future looks grim.”
So what in all this “clicked” for me?
Simply this. The crazier, the more crowded and urbanized and robotoicized the world in general becomes, the more valuable small, rural communities become. And by extension, the more important those of us who choose to live in rural places.
Why? Well, this is what White had to say about his move to Nehalem:
“I mean the urban areas, they coddle you and you become this large, comfortable child-egg baby. One of the things that’s nice about living here is that it’s terrifying to move here. People hunt; they have guns. They have floods here where you cannot leave for five days in a row. This place is all about resilience and sustainability.”
YOU SAY YOU WANT A (RURAL) REVOLUTION…
In other words, folks in places like Nehalem — or Crawford Bay, Horsefly, Bella Bella, or Kaslo — have learned how to be self-reliant. We tend to think for ourselves — a trait that can get in the way of getting things done, occasionally, but in a world increasingly dominated by One-Speak, on balance it’s a tremendous strength.
We understand how to co-exist with nature, because if we don’t, we’re hooped. We choose to live where we live precisely because we value those things in life — ready access to family, friends, food, and fun (most of it of the outdoor variety) — that make us human. We’re not against making a buck — but we know a bulging bank account probably isn’t the main reason for our existence.
On a planet seemingly hell-bent on de-humanizing, that’s a rare and beautiful thing.
Sort of revolutionary, really.