Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Remembering Dorothea Lange on the 120th anniversary of her birth

Read more on NPR here.  Lange was born in 1895.   An excerpt from Maria Godoy's story, which is accompanied by several of Lange's extraordinary photos, follows:
Her photographs gave us an unflinching — but also deeply humanizing — look at the struggles of displaced farmers, migrant laborers, sharecroppers and others at the bottom of the American farm economy as it reeled through the 1930s.

Lange worked for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s, chronicling rural poverty across America and the agency's efforts to provide relief.

Her most famous photo is often referred to as "Migrant Mother." Shot in 1936 at a campsite full of unemployed pea pickers in Nipomo, Calif., the image features Florence Owen Thompson, a poor farmworker flanked by two of her seven children, while a third, a baby wrapped in burlap, rests on her lap.

Freezing rain had destroyed the pea crop. Thompson and her kids "had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed," Lange wrote in her notes. "She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food."
Godoy reports that one of Lange's pet peeves was having her photos published without the captions she put so great effort into writing for each.  One author who has written about Lange's Depression- era work, Anne Whiston Sprin, notes that Lange traveled to the Imperial Valley of California in 1935 to document
the situation of Mexican, Filipino and "white American" farm workers "living in hovels made of cartons, branches, and scraps of wood and cloth, with primitive privies, no waste disposal, no potable water." One of Lange's captions noted: "On these workers the crops of California depend."
Accompanying this story are also Lange photos of African-American farmers in North Carolina, "Mexican" farm workers in the Imperial Valley, and a white family en route to the Arkansas Delta to pick cotton.  Of the latter, Lange wrote in her notes: 
The people have left their home and connections in South Texas, and hope to reach the Arkansas Delta for work in the cotton fields. Penniless people. No food and three gallons of gas in the tank. The father is trying to repair a tire. Three children. Father says, 'It's tough but life's tough anyway you take it.'
Of a father and daughters whom Lange photographed planting sweet potatoes in North Carolina, she wrote:  
Her father hopes to send her to school.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Boko Haram and the rural/urban dichotomy

In the midst of my distress over today's NYT story about the widespread rapes by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria, I was intrigued by the mention of "rural" in the story's lede.   
Hundreds of women and girls captured by Boko Haram have been raped, many repeatedly, in what officials and relief workers describe as a deliberate strategy to dominate rural residents and possibly even create a new generation of Islamist militants in Nigeria
In interviews, the women described being locked in houses by the dozen, at the beck and call of fighters who forced them to have sex, sometimes with the specific goal of impregnating them.
What is odd—and frustrating—is that journalist Adam Nossiter does not circle back in the story to explain the emphasis on "rural."  Is he suggesting that Boko Haram seeks only to dominate rural places and their residents?  or that it is only the rural places and residents that the militant muslims have thus far succeeded in dominating?  The story's only other mention of spatiality as it relates to the rural/urban axis is this one:
As the group has lost control of towns and thousands of people have fled in recent weeks, a grim picture of that treatment has emerged: hundreds of women and girls as young as 11 subjected to systematic, organized sexual violence.
Perhaps the point is that, until recently, the towns and villages of this region have been easy pickings for Boko Haram—that the Nigerian government has not devoted the resources to protecting these spatially dispersed residents who are presumably harder to reach.  Perhaps these places have been seen as less worthy of the government's investment in protecting them because fewer lives are at stake.  Perhaps it is the "space tames law/the state tames space" phenomenon I have associated with rurality.

This also reminds me of the attention that has been paid to the challenge that rurality and remoteness has created in Nepaelse efforts to respond to the earthquake there last month.  Read more here, here and here, along with this story about the reverse migration wrought by the natural disaster.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

More bad news for rural (really "agricultural") California

Timothy Egan writes in an editorial in today's New York Times under the headline, "The End of California?" with some bad news for "rural" California.  It seems to me that Egan is, more precisely, writing about agricultural California, which is not quite the same thing.  The story is basically about California's drought and how the state must respond to survive—which Egan is confident it will do. Here are some of the key quotes regarding the rural-urban binary:
The morality tale behind California’s verdant prosperity will most certainly change. In the old narrative, the evil city took water from powerless farmers. Swimming pools in greater Los Angeles were filled with liquid that could have kept orchards alive in the Owens Valley, to the north. 
* * *
But now, just about everyone in California knows that it requires a gallon of water to grow a single almond, or that agriculture accounts for 80 percent of the water used by humans here. Meanwhile, the cities have become leaders in conservation. It takes 106 gallons of water to produce an ounce of beef — which is more than the average San Francisco Bay Area resident uses in a day. 
* * *  
It’s outlandish, urban critics note, for big farm units to be growing alfalfa — which consumes about 20 percent of the state’s irrigation water — or raising cattle, in a place with a third of the rainfall of other states. And by exporting that alfalfa and other thirsty crops overseas, the state is essentially shipping its precious water to China.
Egan notes other rural vs. urban morality twists, such as the fact that San Francisco gets its water from the Hetch Hetchy dam, in Yosemite.  The flooding of the Hetch Hetchy Valley is widely believed by conservationists to be one of the bigger crimes against nature in the state's history, and many advocate restoration of the Valley.

Egan notes that California agriculture produces just 2% of the state's GDP and employs only 3% of the state's workers.  In light of that, Egan predicts a power shift coming from the drought, one that puts more power in the hands of the wealthy—and the cities, of course (with whom "wealthy" is largely synonymous).

Nevertheless, Egan predicts, "[a]griculture will not give up its perch atop the power pyramid without a fight."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Rural drug abuse in Indiana makes it onto the NYT front page

Abby Goodnough reported a few days ago in the New York Times under the headline, "Rural Indiana Struggles to Contend with H.I.V. Outbreak."  The dateline is Austin, Indiana, population 4,295, where more than 140 residents have tested positive for H.I.V. in this "largely rural region just north of the Kentucky border."  Austin is in Scott County, which is 98% white and has a poverty rate of 19%, just short of the "high poverty" designation.

One of the women who has tested positive hasn't yet started treatment because she does not want to be seen entering the clinic on Main Street.  She comments:
I thought it was just a homosexual disease. I didn’t ever think it would be in my small hometown.
Goodnough explains that this crisis "would test even a large metropolis" and Austin is especially ill-equipped to handle it, even with help from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, along with non profit groups and the state.

In fact, it seems that the state may be part of the problem:  
Gov. Mike Pence reluctantly authorized a needle exchange program last month, but local officials are not running it according to best practices, outside experts say. Austin residents still must wait for addiction treatment, even though they have been given priority. And getting those who are H.I.V.-positive on medication, and making sure they adhere to the protocol, has been difficult. 
Officials here say the need for education is urgent and deep; even local health workers are learning as they go. 
Specifically, the local officials have become aware of local discomfort at visiting a needle distribution center, so they are taking needles directly to users in a van.  One local public health nurse commented:
If you would have asked me last year if I was for a needle exchange program, I would have said you’re nuts.  I thought, just like a lot of people do, that it’s enabling — that you’re just giving needles out and assisting them in their drug habit. But then I did the research on it, and there’s 28 years of research to prove that it actually works.
Austin lies not far from the I-65 corridor, which has led to an educational campaign "encouraging truck drivers and travelers along I-65 between Indianapolis and Louisville to avoid prostitutes, use condoms and limit their sex partners."

An earlier story about the southern Indiana crisis, this one on NBC, is here.  Other New York Times coverage is here, here, here, here, and here.

One of those stories included this quote from Austin's police chief regarding the crisis and it's broader impact on the community:
It's done a lot. It's probably hurt our economy. It's hurt the people, maybe kept away some people who come here and spend money. There's a lot of negatives that can come with something like this.
And this quote—very depressing indeed, especially if it is correct in associating this epidemic with rural America--is from Jennifer Walthall, the Indiana Deputy Health Commissioner:
There's nothing that makes Scott County different than any other rural county in America. It just happens to be the first that brought our attention to this constellation of events. There is an opiate epidemic across the United States.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Exoticizing rural Arkansas … in the New York Times

The "Lens" feature of the New York Times last week ran a piece called "Love and Loss on the Road to Arkansas." It features the work of Nina Robinson, who took a road trip (from New York) to southwest Arkansas to see her aging grandmother.  Her grandmother died while Robinson was there, and so the photographer stayed longer than she had planned, chronicling the lives of her extended family in Dalark and nearby Arkadelphia.  The photos are poignant and lovely, and I am glad the New York Times ran this feature.  But I cannot help think how odd it is that the everyday lives of people in the rural south would be of interest to the cosmopolites who read the New York Times.  Are the lived experiences of African-Americans in Dalark of interest to NYT readers?  Are they of "interest" in the way the lives of small tribes in the south Pacific or Africa are of interest?  That is, do they represent the exotic?  I'm not sure.  Regardless of the answers to these questions, I suppose the photos matter—and justify this showcasing—as art.  

Read more about Dalark here, here and here (the latter from a site called ePodunk).  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tom Cotton on the similarities between rural and urban

The New York Times Magazine's interview with Tom Cotton, the freshman Senator from Arkansas who also happens to be the youngest U.S. Senator, featured this Q & A:
Q:  You were raised in rural Arkansas, attended Harvard and Harvard Law and served in Afghanistan and Iraq. What was a bigger culture shock for you?   
A:  The Middle East and South Asia have a lot less in common with America than 18-year-old kids in Boston have with 18-year-old kids in Arkansas. Teenagers are kinda the same wherever you find them in America.
For the record, Cotton grew up in Danville, Arkansas, population 2,392.  Danville is one of two county seats in Yell County, population 21,951, which is part of the Russellville Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part CXI): Newton County joins the prison industrial complex

This is a post I have not been in a rush to write because I find the development more than a little depressing.  It's the story of the opening of Newton County's long-awaited jail.  My lack of enthusiasm for this project is suggested by the title of this post.  Read more here and here (embedding links to many prior posts) about Newton County's jail travails over the past 7-8 years.

You see, the only way Newton County was able ultimately to open the jail was through a contract with the State of Arkansas to house state prisoners--those state prisoners being in addition to whatever local riffraff might run afoul of the law and wind up in the local jail.  Following are some excerpts from the Newton County Times over recent months, including this report from October, 2014:
“I'm proud to say that things have gone better than what I have expected,” said Sheriff Keith Slape. “Our current census is 19. We have many active warrants that we are pursuing now and I'm sure the census will go up. “ He also said on Friday, Aug. 29, that the jail standards committee was at the facility at 10:30 a.m. to do its final inspection. This should lift the lawsuit against the county that the state attorney general filed when the old jail continually failed inspection, he noted. 
According to the first monthly report of operations, the jail had a total census of 34 with an average daily population of 21 inmates. 
The Arkansas Department of Corrections was assessed $14,700 for housing state prisoners. Other inmates were charged pay for stay for a total amount of $9,765. 
Total meals served daily totaled 63 with the month’s total oft 1,890 meals served. The average cost per meal is $1.01. The month’s total food cost was $2,216.32, according to the report. 
The quorum court [County Board of Supervisors] adopted a jail budget totaling $85,237.16 for the remainder of 2014. 
The jail’s budget was contingent upon receiving fees to house Arkansas Department of Corrections inmates due to overcrowding in state detention facilities. The General Assembly met in special session recently and released funds to help the department pay counties to house its prisoners and to make new spaces for additional beds. 
Slape had been waiting to open the jail until he received a written commitment from the department of corrections. He said he met with the corrections board and received that commitment. 
This editorial, which appeared in the Newton County Times on October 7, 2014, provides more information about the relationship between the State of Arkansas and counties across Arkansas:
When the Newton County Jail opened in September it was contingent upon an agreement from the state prison system that it would pay the county to house state prisoners. The state’s detention facilities are overcrowded. An agreement was reached, but the state is only paying the county $28 per prisoner per day. The state said they would pay for 15 beds, but would be willing to pay for more. Under the current agreement the state is paying the county $12,000 per month. This money is dedicated to the jail’s operation. Statewide, county jails estimate the reimbursement rate of $28 is well below the actual cost to counties, which is more like $45 per day. 
According to the Arkansas Association of Counties, there are about 2,300 state inmates being held in county jails throughout Arkansas. 
That is more than the largest state prison and this is despite the General Assembly appropriating in excess of $6 million to the Department of Corrections to hold more state prisoners during the Second Extraordinary Special Session of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly this summer. About 25 percent of county jail beds statewide are being used to hold state prisoners. 
At 2,300 state inmates, one year of reimbursements would be almost $24 million but the General Assembly appropriated only $16.5 million. Of this, $7 million is in category “B” funding, which will not be accessed until May/June 2015 and will actually manifest only if state revenues are better than projections. This means that the counties are owed from the state $1.95 million each month, but can only be paid, on average, about $750,000 each month to cover payments it owes to counties. 
The County Judges Association of Arkansas and the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association recently agreed to actively pursue a solution to a shortfall in state budgeting for county jail reimbursements for state inmates housed in county jails. They want the governor to call a Special Session of the General Assembly to amend the appropriation and funding of county jail reimbursement to provide for the prompt payment of the anticipated shortfall.
Both the sheriff’s and judges also feel that a1,600 prisoner threshold should be respected and adopted in budget recommendations by Gov. Beebe and the 89th General Assembly, and that the next governor of the state of Arkansas and 90th General Assembly duly provide for direct or indirect payment to private contractors for holding state inmates in excess of the 1,600 inmate threshold and to promptly appropriate, fund and pay the just debts of the state to the counties for holding state inmates for remainder of FY 2015 and FY 2016 at $45 dollars per day. 
Lawmakers will have to determine what is more cost efficient, building more and larger prisons or paying counties more for housing state prisoners. If it is the latter, we believe counties should be reimbursed for their actual costs. In some cases it may be less than $45 per day. In others it may be more.
You can see more clearly why I am thinking that this brings Newton County into the prison-industrial complex if you read this earlier post about the practice in Louisiana.

Here's more from the Newton County Times, starting with a January, 2014 Editorial, "Take Advantage of the Prisoner Boom":
During legislative budget hearings in preparation for the 2014 fiscal session, the governor presented a balanced budget proposal that projects more than $5 billion in general revenue spending. 
About $10 million in additional funding would go to the state Correction Department, which operates state prisons. About $7 million of that amount would be spent to reimburse county jails for costs incurred while holding state inmates.

Although the inmates are under the jurisdiction of the state, they are housed in county lockups because of a lack of space in state prison units. 
Newton County could receive some of that money if it’s [sic] jail gets up and running.
The Newton County Jail was dedicated in December 2011, but is still not housing prisoners. However, it may be open this spring thanks to an Arkansas Rural Development Commission Grant of $400,000. The grant comes from an appropriation made on behalf of the county by State Sen. Michael Lamoureux. The county’s cost of $1,050,000 and in-kind services used to build the facility serves as the local match. 
According to Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape, the grant will be presented to the county in two cycles. The county is receiving $219,004.31 in the grant’s first funding cycle. The second cycle goes from April through June and that is when the remainder of the grant is expected to be allocated. 
Slape said other sheriffs have told him the state has been about 100 days late in paying them for housing state prisoners, but the counties are being paid.

Presumably, the additional $7 million proposed for the state budget will get the state caught up with its commitments to the county jails. 
Newton County has also had to house its prisoners in other counties. A savings should be realized when the county can start housing its own prisoners. 
We also learned last week that the old jail, which is currently housing the Christian Food Room, will be reclaimed by the sheriff’s department for use as extra space for housing state prisoners. 
We should not consider this a long-term funding opportunity for Newton County. The increased funding for the Correction Department would bring the department’s annual operating budget to $316.1 million, and would also allow the department to open new prison units with capacity for about 300 inmates.
As for using the old jail to house state prisoners, that seems impossible—and certainly contrary to civil rights law and perhaps the U.S. Constitution.  You see, the state condemned the old jail several years ago, which is why the county embarked on this long quest for a new jail—the one just opened.

And to complete the economic picture, here is the text of the August 10, 2014, story titled, "Newton Jail hiring."
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said the budget for the Newton County Jail approved by the Newton County Quorum Court this week will undoubtedly help the county’s economy. 
* * *
The jail, having been inspected and meeting standards, is expected to open in about two weeks. Jailers and dispatchers are undergoing cross training so all staff will be certified in both areas, Slape told justices of the peace [Quorum Court]. 
* * * 
Slape has been waiting to open the jail until he received a written commitment from the Department of Correction. He said he met with the corrections board last week at England, [Arkansas] and received that commitment. 
“It’s taken a while to get done,” Slape told the Daily Times
* * *
The budget establishes employees’ compensation for the final five months of the year: An administrator, $9,240; a sergeant, $8,360; eight full-time jailers, $7,480 each; two part-time jailers, $5,984 each and a nurse, $3,960. Along with Social Security, retirement, health insurance, unemployment and other fringe benefits the total budget is $133,177.50. 
* * *
Slape said the department of corrections wants to transfer its first inmates to Newton County from Sebastian County on Monday, Aug. 25. Newton County District Judge Tommy Martin is also eager to begin sentencing jail time to defendants found guilty of committing certain crimes.
As far as I am concerned, this is all really bad news.  Newton County was better off without a jail—especially if the only thing that made the jail viable was incarceration of state prisoners.  No two ways about it:  Little ol' Newton County, Arkansas has become part of the prison industrial complex.

Harry Reid's rural, working class upbringing—and his consequent attachment to place and bluntness

On the occasion of Harry Reid's announcement that he would retire from the U.S. Senate at the end of this term, Amita Kelly reported today on NPR that Reid has never forgotten his path to the Senate, starting with his childhood in Searchlight, Nevada, population 539, where he grew up in a miner's shack made of repurposed railroad ties.  Reid moved back to Searchlight, which is in Clark County (also home to Las Vegas) with his family in the 1990s.  Reid stayed there until last year, when he moved to Las Vegas to be closer to his children. 

President Obama surprised Reid by calling into KNPR yesterday during an interview with the Senate majority leader.  The president commented on Reid's respect for where and how he grew up:   
I don't know anybody who understands more his roots, where he came from, what it means to not have anything when you're born, and scramble and scrape and work to get something.  He has never forgotten the path that he took ... in terms of someone who's got heart and cares about ordinary people trying to chase the American dream, I don't think there's been anybody ever.
In a 2005 profile of Reid, the New Yorker noted that he has called Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan a "political hack," Clarence Thomas an "embarrassment" and George W. Bush a "liar" and a "loser." The writer seems to find this remarkable, but I see it as a working class kid speaking with the characteristic bluntness associated with those who grew up in the sort of hardscrabble circumstances in which Reid was raised.

Friday, March 27, 2015

From rural China to tall-building careers in Shanghai

Frank Langfitt reports for NPR in a two-part series.  The second is headlined "An NPR Reporter Chauffeurs a Chinese Couple 500 Miles to their Rural Wedding," and the related story from the prior day is "Two Brothers in Rural China Beat the Odds; Practice Law in Shanghai."

Here are some excerpts from the second story, which focuses on the village wedding of one of the younger son:
Chinese New Year is the world's largest annual mass migration, when hundreds of millions of people pour from the big cities on China's developed coast back to their rural roots.

* * *
"When I was little, I used a bucket to get water here to water plants," says Rocky, 30, as he walks through his family's farm fields. "We also helped harvest peanuts." 
Most of the village's young people moved to cities long ago to work in factories and offices, he says. "Now, nobody takes care of this place." 
The concept of one's hometown is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. 
"They are supposed to come back," says Guo of her two sons. "Even if you are at the ends of the earth, this is where your ancestors are from, this is your birthplace." 
But Rocky may not do that.  He is planning to buy an apartment in Shanghai.   Rocky comments:
We had thought about coming back to the village after we get old, but I think this may not come true.
Langfitt observes that China's booming economy in recent decades has enabled migrating children to send some of their urban earnings home.  Rural homes are now larger, and some villagers now own cars or motorcycles.  Yet the boys' mother, Guo, still cooks with wood, and her home is not heated.  She does, however, have running water and a flat screen TV.

And here are excerpts from the prior day's, which introduced the family, this time focusing on the two sons' fortunes as lawyers in Shanghai, having successfully escaped village life with education: 
[M]any educated Chinese choose English names. And this Rocky, he took his name from Rocky Balboa, the fictional boxer from my hometown, Philadelphia. It's quite appropriate. Both Rockys were real long-shots. Our Rocky, the lawyer, he's the son of poor farmers. 
Many farmers' kids do end up in factories on the coast, but it's a lot harder for someone like our Rocky to actually make it to a Shanghai law firm. We begin our story on Rocky's wedding day. 
I'm driving some wedding guests in my rented Buick van. And up ahead, Rocky and his college sweetheart - her name is Xiao Piao - they're standing halfway out of the sunroof of a black sedan. And they're racing passed these terrace rice fields. Rocky's older brother, Ray - he's also a Shanghai lawyer - he's driving. It was this great image. 
You get an incredible sense of how far Rocky and his brother have come from this small village. … They're in a BMW. And they've just driven past a woman, an old woman, who has a bamboo pole on her shoulders. And she has two wicker baskets on either side. 
ROCKY: (Through interpreter) Everyone's fate, career and job are the result of one's struggle. They don't fall from the sky. It has nothing to do with feng shui. If I didn't take the bar and sat around at home, what use would good feng shui have been?
Langfitt emphasizes the influence of the boys' mother:  
You know, to understand the brothers' journey and what it means, you've got to meet their mom, Guo. She's 58. She's a spark plug with copper-colored hair. 
Guo financed the boys' education by selling fruit and vegetables—and even funerals clothes, but also had to borrow money to pay for Rocky and Ray's education.

One of the anecdotes Langfitt shares is that the mother has prepared her own tomb, though it is traditional for one's children to do this.  She proudly offered to show the tomb to Langfitt when he arrived in town for the wedding.  You can see a photo of it on the story. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Colorado (and Dutch) food innovation: but is it all making rurality obsolete?

NPR reported yesterday under the headline, "Is Colorado Primed to Become the Silicon Valley of Agriculture?", but the story seemed to be as much about The Netherlands as about Colorado.  Here's an excerpt:  
[A]t the first Colorado State University Agricultural Innovation Summit, held Mar. 18-20, Governor John Hickenlooper didn't start by trumpeting the state's farmers or scientists or entrepreneurs. He started instead by touting the accomplishments of a European country six times smaller than Colorado. 
"The Netherlands isn't very big. And they don't have a whole lot of people," Hickenlooper said. But, he noted, the Dutch economy has become a powerhouse in growing vegetables, producing dairy products and processing poultry. 
What they lack in manpower, they make up for in science and cooperation. Dutch universities pass research on to farmers. Food processing companies have staked headquarters there. Small tech start-ups pop up to solve nagging problems. They do it all as neighbors, in a tightly knit area called the Dutch Food Valley. 
"What's interesting is we're doing that exact same kind of innovation right here in Colorado," Hickenlooper said. That's why Hickenlooper and economists are increasingly talking about Colorado's potential to become the Silicon Valley of agriculture.
And here's the part that makes me wonder why I'm writing about this on Legal Ruralism:  
"The urban core is in fact the heart of agricultural innovation in the state of Colorado," Graff said. 
New neighborhoods in Denver and otherNorthern Colorado cities are being structured around gardens, small farms and food hubs,taking the local food movement to a scale where it's actually having a measurable effect on the city's economy. 
"We're seeing this industry grow exponentially in Denver," said the city's mayor Michael Hancock. "Small businesses are going into incubators and they're coming out as stronger businesses ready to contribute to the marketplace." 
Denver's also home to some of the biggest players in food processing, hosting headquarters for the largest maker of mozzarella cheese in the world, Leprino Foods, and the country's biggest flour milling company, Ardent Mills. Greeley is home to JBS USA, the North American arm of the largest meat packing company in the world. Boulder has become a hub for the production and processing of organic and natural foods with companies like Celestial Seasonings and Justin's Nut Butter.
Is this another example of urban brilliance making the rural obsolete?  (Having lived in The Netherlands for three years in the 1990s, I seem to recall that it is perhaps the most densely populated counties in the world—and that suggests urbanity.  Yet the country is also associated with farms, with cows, with milk, with cheese.)  Read other illustrations of the virtues of urban farming here and (urban links to rural farms) here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"The Western, Rural Rustbelt: Learning from Local Fiscal Crisis in Oregon"

That is the title of one of Professor Michelle Wilde Anderson's latest publications, in the Willamette Law Review (2014).  The abstract follows: 
Oregon’s rural timber counties have a great deal in common with the historic, post-industrial towns and cities of the Midwest. In both settings, the Great Recession pressed more pain into areas already downtrodden by the automation of human labor and global marketplaces for construction materials like steel and timber. Gone are olden days of plentiful jobs at livable wages, when hard, steady work earned a man enough money to afford a patch of land and a safe, upwardly-mobile life for his children. When jobs are scarce long enough, individual hardship widens into collective hardship. Sinking revenues mean that local governments can no longer look out for people fallen on hard times, and public services drop to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West. Local voters, as well as state and federal legislators, face striking questions about how deep they are willing to cut back the public sector: Must there be police and ambulances available for emergency dispatch at night and on weekends? Do we need a safety net related to mental health disorders, drug addiction, and poverty in old age? 
Rural Oregon thus has a great deal to learn from — and teach to — state and local governments of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and other hubs of steel and coal country. A more complete and nuanced picture of local fiscal crisis emerges from viewing the two regions together, a picture that overturns some of the settled political expectations and alignments created by viewing the traditional Rustbelt alone. In support of remedial efforts by legislators, scholars, and courts, the present article seeks to synthesize such a national exchange of experiences and policy experiments related to local government fiscal management.
An earlier post about Professor Anderson's work in relation to rural (well, exurban?) California is here.  Other posts about the fiscal crisis in rural Oregon are here and here.