Rethinking Country Mouse, City Mouse

Excerpt from Long Scroll, pencil and ink on paper Artist: Bruce Pollack
Excerpt from Long Scroll, pencil and ink on paper
Artist: Bruce Pollack

There was a period of my youth when my family lived ‘off-grid’ for the most part, in wood cabins on the forested coast of northern California. There were parts of that experience I didn’t like – hauling water by hand was certainly low on my list of preferences – but one aspect I liked very much was the lack of pressure to wear shoes.

I went barefoot as much as possible. Shoes were for the City. And the City, for me, was defined by any place that required shoes. It was an easy equation, with my own personal metrics.

There has always been a division between the City and the Country, but the two were once much closer. But as the world has moved to cities and food production has become globalised, it’s easy enough to live a life in a city these days without ever seeing a place that creates the food in the store.

A recent paper, City Regions as Landscapes for People, Food and Nature, is part of an ongoing discussion about how to reintegrate the City with the Country.

“There is a need to deepen our understanding of particular challenges to bringing rural and urban together in order to develop more resilient city region food systems across the urban rural continuum. The urban planner and policymaker need to think outside the urban box and think about their rural colleagues in terms other than just as a supply of goods and services including labor for urban markets. The rural planner may or may not be aware that their communities’ welfare is going to be increasingly interrelated to urbanization and the rural world has much more to gain and more to offer than merely the flows of people, goods and services.”

Urban agriculture is part of this thinking, but the picture is larger than that. At some point, maybe the thought transition between urban and rural can again be as natural as slipping a pair of shoes on and off.

Green Square, oil on linen Image: Bruce Pollack
Green Square, oil on linen
Image: Bruce Pollack