Speak Your Piece: Rock Bands and Rural Development

[imgbelt img=frontporchjam.jpg]We spend too much time worrying about jobs that come and go when the real wealth of a community can be found in the things that last.


“The Ballad of the RAA” is about life on the prairie if you are from Alberta or Nebraska. It’s also about the mountains if you are from the Rockies or Appalachia and the river if you are from Mississippi. While cities are home to constant and new struggles, rural life, although certainly not always idyllic, remains often the last best good thing that we can hold on to.

Indeed, holding on to the things that “will last” is at the core of economic development. So many towns chase after factory jobs. But while branch plants come and go, the things that will last are the things that are created in the community. This “creative economy” is often a community’s most important asset — the minds and imaginations of their citizens. We encourage people to buy new designs, new art, and yes, new music that reflects the community in which it was created, partly because that’s development that will be around after the latest factory shutdown. 

I don’t want to oversell this band that most of you have never heard of — I don’t think a Rolling Stone cover is in their immediate future or even the cover of Economic Development Quarterly.  For many of you, your epiphany about rural life may come in listening to Robert Johnson at the Crossroads or maybe reading Annie Proulx on the mountains of Wyoming.  But whatever your choice of media, art, both traditional and new, can speak to the rural condition and help us move forward.  Even if we stop to check our favorite music blogs every once in a while.

Dan Broun is director of special projects for Regional Technology Strategies, a development group in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.