Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why Save Craptown?

I spent a lot of time this week trying to catch up on the New York Times, which since we began subscribing about a month ago has turned into an intimidating tower of reading threatening to take over our living room. Anyway, last week there was this story about a mill town in New Hampshire called Berlin that's dying. Apparently paper milling is disappearing as an industry in the United States and its dragging Berlin down the drain with it. (Who makes paper now? Brazil?) With no industry and a rapidly dwindling population, the town is desperate to save itself and has therefore cooked up two new industries to attract and retain residents-- a prison and a off-roading truck park. I don't want to make light of the Berlin's new industries. Prisons have to go somewhere I guess, and why not in the middle of nowhere. But clearly, when you're counting on an SUV park to save your town, you've reached the point of desperation.

My question is: why bother saving the town at all? Why not let nature take its course and let the town die. Couldn't this just be better in the long run? Pull down some of the houses, dig up the concrete, bulldoze the strip malls and give the whole piece of land back to nature. Or give it to a Native American reservation.

Let it go. Its dead. Why is there this obsession with keeping this crappy town alive? There are thousands of dead end towns across this country, and, quite frankly, we don't need them. They take up space and occupy land that would just be better used in an ecosystem.

Any thoughts?


HoBs said...

i believe a lot of paper comes from china.

yeah, as for letting towns die, cold hearted economists would agree. but then that ignores the feelings of those who spent their lives there.

i guess people just don't like change. my mom was complaining because our home town actually is growing too much. it is losing that small town feel and becoming more of a yuppie-ville.

hcduvall said...

Paper for the US or Canada comes mostly from, well, the US and Canada. It actually depends where you're printing. Paper isn't particularily worthwhile to ship, unless you're account for printing costs. That being what it is, we get Chinese paper in things printed in China, but probably not a lot of American paper gets to China, since printing is so much cheaper there. That and shipping containers.

Man, if New Hampshire's having problems, imagine the midwest and actual farm country, but as Hobs said, without being able to quantify culture, it's hard to argue what you keep and for why. The differences between the anxieties of a town growing and a town dying are probably worth exploring.

HoBs said...

Really, I didn't realize I said that. I'm smart huh.

Yeah, and the nytimes foisted on me a free daily subscription, which I didn't want. They wouldn't take no as an answer.

I got the sunday edition (almost $5 for just one newspaper!!!) for the magazine, and have become addicted too all the new quarterly magazines they put out (Travel, Sports [an excellent sports magazine for the non-sports fan, or the snoot sports fan], Architecture, Design, even Fashion, etc.). Was thinking of canceling, not Times Select is gone (that was one of the other main perqs of subscribing).

Now I'm dreading the mountains of paper.