Endangered Spaces, Enduring Places: Change, Identity, And Survival In Rural America

1st Edition

Janet M. Fitchen

Published June 7, 2019
Reference - 330 Pages
ISBN 9780367003425 - CAT# K402828

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Rural America as a place and a way of life is undergoing major transformation. The farm crisis and the decline of manufacturing dealt a double blow to the rural economy in the 1980s. Rural communities continue to lose farms, factories, and young people. Rural lands are increasingly being sought as places for vacation homes, state prisons, and waste dumps. Rural people are ambivalent about new residents and activities that are coming in and unsure of their own rural identity. Old assumptions about rural life and rural community are now open to question. Based on years of field observations and hundreds of interviews in fifteen rural counties in upstate New York, Fitchen's book explores these interconnected changes. It describes the financial stress in dairy farming and the efforts families made to hold onto their farms. It records the stunned disbelief and difficult adjustment of rural factory workers and small communities as local plants shut down. The author chronicles the struggles of communities plagued by toxic chemicals in their drinking water and of young families slipping farther into poverty. She reports on some communities that are campaigning to "win" a state prison and others that are protesting against a proposed radioactive waste dump. The book illustrates the persistence of rural ingenuity and determination but argues that these alone cannot solve the problems of rural America. A well-informed federal and state commitment is necessary. With policies and programs appropriate for rural situations, most communities could adapt creatively to the changes, integrate around a new rural identity, and survive into the twenty-first century as enduring social settings for their residents.

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