Friday, May 9, 2008

Preserve Our Rural Lifestyle

I've been seeing signs like this on recent trips to El Dorado County, California, not far from where I live in Sacramento. As you will have guessed, the campaign slogan caught my eye. Teresi is running for the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. This sign is at the intersection of Grizzly Flat Road (love that place name!) and Mt. Aukum Road in the tiny community of Somerset. It's just a wide spot in the road with one heck of a good restaurant, the Gold Vine Grill, thanks to the surrounding wine region.

But El Dorado County is not small in land area or population. It covers 1,788 square miles from the Sacramento County line to South Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border; its population is 156,299. A great deal of it is National Forest, and it includes two highly populated areas: El Dorado Hills, an upscale exurb of Sacramento with a population of 18,000, and historic Placerville (aka Old Hangtown), the county seat, population 9,610. Here's a county map, which also shows the five districts. Teresi is running for county supervisor for District 2, that wide east-west swath that is essentially the southern half of the county.

Based on my description, you can imagine that El Dorado County politics, to a great extent, might boil down to a battle among the "cities" on one hand, the Lake Tahoe region on another, and the rest -- the rural remainder. Maybe that tension is what Teresi is playing on. If elected, he would represent a big chunk of what might be fairly classified as rural by several measures (note the home-made sign next to his is for a 4-H event), but which also borders on exurban, or rural gentrification. Let's just say that, particularly with the burgeoning wine region, a second-home aesthetic is evident in parts of that district. (You probably cannot see Teresi's photo well enough to tell that grapevines appear to be the background).

So, this sent me to Teresi's website to look at what it might say about rural matters. Turns out, it doesn't say that much about rurality. He does use the phrase "rural quality of life," but in a separate paragraph from the mention of traffic congestion. And he notes the threat to the "rural lifestyle" from the expansion of an airfield in neighboring Sacramento County.

In any event, I can see why Teresi chose the slogan. Like the use of "rural" in many contexts, it evokes nostalgia -- in both oldtimers and newcomers. Indeed, that may be the greatest benefit of the slogan: it plays to each group's notion of what makes rurality worthy of preservation.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Absolutely fascinating.

Two things.

Firstly I am linking you to a blog I run called

The idea is that I find good rural blogs or others already linked recommend their favourites; I then link and then ask the linked to recommend to me (as I am asking you) their favourite rural blogs/farm blogs/resources.

I then link to them and write to them and they recommend to me.

Secondly your post on the impact of rural incomers.

You really, if I say so myself, check out:

Kind regards,