Friday, February 27, 2009

As rural-urban boundaries blur, so do interests, creating potential for collaboration, writer says

We reported here that President Obama created a White House Office of Urban Affairs but appears to have no plan for a rural counterpart. Jason Gray writes for the Daily Yonder that while White House policy appears biased toward urban areas, breaking down the rural-urban divide is the best way to create a more prosperous country.

"The small but growing number of rural-urban collaborations emerging across the country suggests that people realize that a collaborative framework is in everyone’s interest," writes Gray, a North Carolina writer-consultant. "These small seedlings are responding to the realities of rural and urban America for the 21st Century. Understanding and acting on this shared fate will go forward, but the Obama administration needs to realize now that important opportunities will be lost without federal leadership."

The boundary between rural and urban areas is becoming increasingly blurred and federal policy needs to address this change, Gray writes, noting that about half othe nation’s rural population lives in a county that is part of a metropolitan area. "Keeping rural and urban interests separate misses the point," he writes. "Advancing both the interests of the cities and the countryside requires us to see how the two work together."

A report Gray helped prepare, “Our Shared Fate: Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide Creates New Opportunities for Prosperity and Equity”, is providing insight on what the policy could look like. "Places we used to recognize as discrete and distinct – neighborhoods, communities, cities, suburbs, towns, counties, and rural areas – now have fluid boundaries with system interconnections and interdependencies that challenge our traditional policy making," the report says. "We are beginning to realize that we need to develop a more nuanced understanding of place – including what is ‘rural’ and what is ‘urban’ – in America." (Read more)

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