David Roberts @drvox Seattleite transplanted from Tennessee; now blogging for vox.com/ about energy politics. Climate hawk, deficit dove. Not a doctor. Jul. 23, 2019 1 min read

I spent a lot of my vacation driving around rural areas, through NC, KY, and TN. My impression: horrible land use, bland, ticky-tacky strip-mall architecture, & economic decay. I feel compassion for those people but I have zero time for romanticism about US rural life.

Texas is a microcosm:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/07/business/texas-economy-jobs-cities.html 

All right, y'all can go on with your moralizing, but spare me. I grew up in a small TN town, went to college in one, have friends across the South, spent countless hours in/around/between its small towns. On vacation I spent time in Asheville, Louisville, Atlanta & Crossville TN.

Crossville's a great example: the remains of an original downtown, mostly with closed-up local shops, with big five-lane highway strips grown up around it, with Walmart & fast food restaurants & health-care services for the aging population. It's a "small town" ...

... but there isn't a single square inch of it that you can navigate without a car. Same for everywhere we went, even the tiny towns between the medium ones -- they are mostly wide spots in highways, with shuttered businesses & a few chain stores.

This is not to say there are great places to be found. It's not to say *anything at all* about the people (some of my best friends, etc.). But cruddy land use & desiccated local economies are the rule, not the exception, in the rural South.

So y'all can throw around all the coastal-elitist-Vox-blah-blah you want -- I'm not going to deny my own life experience, what I've seen with my own eyes in the places I was born & raised. I'm not going to romanticize it. Most of it is just blech. That's why people leave.

And with that I shall mute this thread and go back to wishing I was still on vacation.

You can follow @drvox.


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