Monday, August 18, 2008

"Introducing one segment of America to another"

That is part of the caption for Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" photograph, which is featured in a New York Times story this morning about a documentary that will air on PBS tonight. The documentary is called, “Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the F.S.A./O.W.I. Photographers.” Here's the story's lede:
“Migrant Mother,” Dorothea Lange’s image of a weathered, grimy Depression-era woman in California surrounded by her children, is one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century, as is “Fleeing a Dust Storm,” Arthur Rothstein’s shot of a farmer and his two young sons in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl whipped by the wind, a shack in the background.
Of course, looking at these photos (the link to the story's multimedia feature is here), and recalling that era would always be good for a blog post about matters rural, but I was really moved to post because of that caption on Lange's photo, saying it "introduced one segment of America to another." Sometimes I think we need to make a re-introduction of metropolitan America to its country cousin. A lot of "information" about rural America is out there for urbanites to consume, as in vehicles of popular culture, but too often it is partial, even wrong. A proper re-introduction might be in order, for example, to achieve better policy solutions to enduring social problems that plague both rural and urban communities. But how might such a re-introduction be properly and meaningfully achieved?

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