City life — 6 Comments

  1. This is something that has puzzled me too. I grew up in the middle of a state forest on the side of the Galty’s and I would love to move back to that area, but I’m an electronic engineer, without changing career there are few opportunities for me to support myself there. Modern society doesn’t approve of a career choice of ‘hunter gatherer’ and I’m fairly certain that my family would balk at the idea. Apart from myself though, the problem is fairly basic (as I understand it). If you have a rural community where everyone has a job to do and it operates affectively then that can work just fine, and I think there are plenty of these in existence. The problem is that such communities can only provide food and employment for a limited number of people, and we are rather adept at making more people, stretching the resources of said communities. Cities have a greater degree of elasticity in this regard, there are more ways to earn money, many of them not very nice, but at least they are available. There is a version of the Amish people (Hutterites) who, if their community exceeds about 150 people they deliberately split it into 2 communities. In fact there are many cases where this is seen to be the natural limit to a close knit community (‘Tipping Point’, Malcom Gladwell), above this and problems arise. Urban dwelling has greater anonymity and as such does not suffer from this limit. So there you have it, rural idyll spoiled by too many damn people.

  2. Maybe it’s about more than practical economics, though. I remember a Canadian friend who had lived in Medicine Hat in Alberta who loved living near Belfast because there were all sorts of cultural opportunities in the city – theatre, music, etc – that had not been available in his former home. Having just got my Leinster season ticket through the post, cities also provide the critical mass for major sporting events. Travel opportunities are also far greater (no matter how much I may hate Dublin Airport).

    Now I must head out to journey to Rathmines for a meeting and Ballybrack is not the ideal starting point – N11 or M50? Hmmm.

  3. Hmm, different strokes for different folks I guess, but I still reckon the example you gave is down to resource poverty from overcrowding, rather than the desire to catch the latest cultural must-see.

  4. I can’t for the life of me understand why. I live in a city where traffic’s in gridlock, everyone wears black, it costs a fortune to commute and I’m only 40kms from the CBD . . Why does everyone have to start work at the same time and work in town? Actually my new job is all about decentralising and building affordable, sustainable houses and communities in the burbs . . not sure if you can actually construct a community where there was none but we’ll see in 20 year’s time. Grow Up has a point. I think the other issue is that kids in the country don’t want to be ‘boghoppers’ or farmers, they prefer the buzz of city life and simply ‘end up there’. You’re right about theatre, clubs, sports . .they’re largely city based. For the Phillipinos and even more particularly the Chinese, cities mean wealth, they are paid much better than if they were on the land despite their appalling work conditions. It’s only as we get older I think, that we appreciate the simplicity of rural life. I’d trade it in a heartbeat if I could earn a living in the country.

  5. Certainly for the people in Manila it’s about resource poverty (you are old enough to know not to expect consistency from clergy!), but I think the ‘Local Hero’ sentiment in these islands isn’t as widespread as we imagine. The idea of country life is OK but when it comes to choosing somewhere like the Irish Midlands for home, work and family life, the enthusiasm is not so great.

  6. I could earn a living in either place and have always said I planned moving to a rural parish in 2011, but, as the year comes closer, I am less sure. My Leinster Rugby season ticket would hardly be feasible; nor would seeing Bruce Springsteen or Fleetwood Mac; and a distant move from the airport would mean day trips to England to see family or friends would no longer be an option.

    Church life in the country would be different, the levels of attendance are much higher, but the challenge would not be there in the same way.

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