What happens when rural Georgia dies?


Image by The Suss-Man (Mike) via Flickr

Living in Atlanta provides a certain degree of isolation from rural Georgia. I’ve enjoyed spending time in the North Georgia mountains and have traveled across the southern part of the state for three days with a client. But despite this seeming detachment, Atlanta and the rest of Georgia are mutually dependent. I don’t see any way to file for divorce, even if we wanted to.

So when I read stories from rural Georgians saying the area is dying, I take notice.

It’s true that the past decade has not been kind to rural Georgia. But is rural Georgia really dying?

The Peanut Politics blog definitely thinks so.  The rural Georgia blog provides a pretty pessimistic outlook for the future of anything outside Georgia’s metro areas.

Here’s a snippet from a column published Friday:

From the swamps of the Okefenokee to the Onion fields of Vidalia to the Appalachian Mountains of Blue Ridge to the peanut fields of Southwest Georgia , the rural areas of Georgia has been losing people for decades, a slow demographic collapse.

Keith MacCants, the author, writes about the death of the family farm and rise of agribusiness. Corporate farming has taken a toll for sure. Keith goes on to write about the collapse of the middle class and the growing pockets of poverty.

In the end, he leaves us with a bleak image of Georgia’s future:

With the current trends showing no sign of reversing, we will eventually be left with a lot of places without schools, stores or even government. ‘We will depopulate much of the rural Areas of the state and it won’t stop there.

But let’s think about this a different way. What if rural Georgia isn’t dying? What if rural Georgia is simply going through a transformation and will become something different, something better? How will rural Georgia look after the metamorphosis?

I say that’s a question worth asking. We should try to shape that positive vision instead of accepting an image of a Georgia wasteland as inevitable.

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