Monday, August 15, 2011 By Aaron Brown
I was struck by this quote from the Peterson story:
"Since I've moved here," Schuerman said, "we've lost the grocery store. We've lost the café." Standing alongside beautifully crafted post office boxes whose dials have been turned by leathery farm fingers for generations, she softly added: "This is one of the last things we had."That's very much the theme inspiring one of my upcoming radio projects, only in regard to the Iron Range. Though these pieces focus on the dwindling population of farm country, population loss and demographic change are big themes here on the Range and in other post-industrial places, including some big cities.
The sun is slowly setting on parts of rural Minnesota.
Fundamentally, so many of our problems are related to this sense of "placelessness." Where do we belong? What is the true "cost" of living there? What should we do for these places? Why do they matter? Our economic system is not making this primal urge of civilized people easy to resolve, and that's why we're all so uneasy.
Those who lack a place are uneasy because they might not find one. Those who have a place, whether it's a nice house in the suburbs or - as with myself - a little plot in the country, we fear that it will all come crumbling down. For these small town residents losing their post offices that's what is happening.
So it is all over the nation.
And so we must take back our homes, not from any particular people as might be suggested by some, but from the machinery of our world that informs us, though human minions, that such places and people like us have no value. Scratch the angriest liberal or conservative in rural Minnesota and you would find similar fears. Let's not dwell on differences. Let us unite behind the last things we share. Our places and our cultures. Our hopes that a child born here can make good someday.