rural urbanism, proposal, spring 2012
The world is more urban than it is rural, migration to cities offers more employment, more opportunity and more social mobility than the small towns and villages in rural hinterlands. However, such towns and villages still hold much of the character and identity associated with national cultures. It is a paradox, but the past, often pre-urban, still contains much potent imagery. As well, usually connected with resource extraction, new towns are being designed. Some rely on traditional centred models, others on network systems, still others on new sustainable distribution of energy and resources. What is going on in our hinterlands?
some of the thoughts that lead to this theme for onsite 27:
There is a linkage between W O Mitchell's Who Has Seen the Wind, 1947 and the shooting of four RCMP officers at Meyerthorpe in 2005. There is a violence in small towns and rural areas that is thought to be both lawless and natural.
In The Music Man ( 1962, lyrics by Meredith Wilson), the small town pool hall was neatly categorised:
Well, ya got trouble, my friend.
Right here, I say trouble right here in River City...
with a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'pool'
David Murray, who works in Edmonton, restored a pool hall in Vilna, Alberta. Unprepossessing, family lived in the back, but it was a Pool Hall, and yes, that meant trouble. Now it is a heritage site.
The Legion. Often, the Legion was the only hall in town for dances, parties, wedding receptions. and they all had a bar. Growing up in my small coal mining, pulp and paper mill, dock town, the dance on Friday night at the Legion inevitably ended in a fight and the bass drum was kicked in.
Company towns. I would call Calgary a company town: a CPR stop originally and today full of corporate headquarters: no matter, all companies. There is no civic space in a company town because there is no civil society. There is work and there is living accommodation.
The spatial relationship between the old downtown and the strip out on the highway. This seems to be a universal. There is a spatial relationship, but is there an economic and a cultural relationship? Is the strip a small town's contact with the globalised world?