Picking apples in Granville:
It’s hard to think of a more sanitized source for news than local television. Once they get past the house fires, car crashes, and crime most of what is left comes pre-packaged and is, I’m sure, mostly guaranteed to keep people from tuning out before the weather forecast.
Life Expectancy in US Drops
Opioid Deaths Reach New High
Millennials Unlikely to Earn More Than Parents
This when the United States has just elected a President which John Michael Greer not only predicted a year ago would win the White House, but years ago he described to a “t” in his aforementioned book. Kunstler’s prediction from 2006 of America turning to a corn pone Nazi might also ring true to some, but more accurate to me is his prediction that our collective wish to maintain the Drive In Utopia that is most of the United States would lead us down the road of attempting via political means to throw all of our resources into sustaining the unsustainable.
A recent news piece on an absolutely lovely “hill town” 45 minutes or so from Springfield really struck home. A friend of mine was from Granville when I was growing up and perhaps three times I ventured out to visit him. He had a very wealthy relative who owned hundreds of acres and in whose pool we were allowed to swim. It was a 20th century Tivoli of an industrialist who also donated an elephant, “suicide Sam”, and other animals to the local natural history museum from his African safaris.He could afford to live out there. Could afford to acquire the resources necessary to live in splendid isolation.
I had another acquaintance from Granville, I knew him from church. He was taller, better looking, and more athletic than I was…for some reason I never liked him very much! His father died while we were in our teens, twenty years ago or so I read that his mother was convicted of embezzlement and had lost her job.
I don’t know what happened to the rest of his rather large Mormon family. At least a half hour from anywhere with 4 or 5 kids I would have to think that it might be a tough place, an expensive place, to be a single mom.
Getting back to the news item, it seems that there are so few elementary age school kids in Granville now that the regional school district is looking to close the only school in town. They need millions of dollars just to maintain the school at an acceptable level and the budget for the school is a million dollars a year for 82 kids spread over 6 grades.
Parents are up in arms. They moved to this wonderful, bucolic setting so that their kids could attend THIS school, not so that their kids could spend 2 hours a day on a school bus after all!
The Granville story is easy to understand. 100 years ago a few families lived there making a living from farming, and some small to medium scale manufacturing focused around the town center. Kids walked to school. As the small scale manufacturing declined and farming became less lucrative after WWII a few vets, probably natives, moved in to the available housing and started to have kids. The inexpensive nature of gas and American automobiles made commuting to jobs in the Springfield metro area a reasonable option for young families.
As the cities began to change and forced integration of the schools began, what started as trickle became a flood and not only were all the farm houses filled with families, but new homes were being built; yes in small numbers compared to suburban explosions in the South and West, but surprisingly robust for a rural town in New England.
Still, with such a small population it was clear that regionalization was the only way for Granville high schoolers to play sports and have extra-curriculars and course offerings that middle class kids should have, and numbers of kids, low cost of fuel, and relative prosperity of the people made that a cinch.
Fast forward and the Baby Boomers baby boom echo is over. Most of them had smaller families than their parents anyway, and the White population is still moving south and west (including BOTH of the Granville natives I knew!), the boomers are still in their homes, but without kids and the ones who have already sold and moved are selling to “lovely young couples” who may decide…later…to have ONE kid.
Meanwhile the Springfield schools are booming. Hispanic families are growing with younger and younger couples having more and more children. Are these people moving to Granville? Are they ever going to? Would people in Granville view their arrival as a healthy demographic shot in the arm or as what they moved to Granville to get away from?
How much are the people in Southwick willing to pay to subsidize the bucolic purity of Granville? Should we encourage people to live in such a far flung place by underwriting one of the intrinsic costs of living there?
I can answer the last question: No, we shouldn’t. We can’t afford to. The Peak Oil future is here. The long, slow diminution of empire has begun and all of our Tivolis will belong to Caesar or to no one.