Wednesday, October 25, 2017

On timber and Trumplandia: "timber is a real thing when you get out of New York and Washington DC, right?"

This Q & A feature from the Princeton Alumni Weekly is annoyingly hard to read because it captures the spoken word, unedited. Still, I found myself wanting to share this excerpt from the interview with Carolyn Rouse of Princeton University's Anthropology Department because in some ways it captures beautifully the rural-urban divide in our country.  In particular, it sums up urban folks' failure to understand rural economies, rural labor markets, rural residents, rural concerns.  
...being in California, I was staying in a motel next to a timber mill. We would pass cars with, you know, trucks with timber. Timber is a real thing when you get out of New York or Washington DC, right? And so, how do you frame [a scholarly paper/inquiry] in a way that makes readers in your audience — I mean, the concern is the audience, right? Well, who’s going to read a paper if they’re not interested in timber? So, but timber’s really important. We use it to build houses and buildings, and there’s an ecological element to it, right? So where are we with — I don’t even know. I don’t know where we are with respect to timber in terms of global warming, in terms of — right, the economy, nothing, right?
Rouse is talking about timber, but it seems to me we could substitute lots of rural "products"--perhaps even food/farming/agriculture--for "timber" in Rouse's comment. 

1 comment:

RodFleck said...

Oh my lord, this is exactly the bizarre lack of understanding that my rural community faces constantly. Yes, you are absolutely right that we could replace "timber" with "farming" or "mining" or any of the specific natural resource or agriculture products created in our rural communities in this nation.

Yet, there is a true challenge laced in the rather inarticulate question there - how do we in our rural communities make the much needed connection on our vital economic issues with the large urban population centers?

Thanks for getting the blood pressure and the brain kicked started early this morning. ;-)