Baronger's Scribblings

Saturday, July 30, 2005

TCS: Tech Central Station - Third Wave Gentrification

Ahhhh, paradigm shift world view is now askew.  The little town of Hazel, Kentucky has a presense on the web.  This is a small flyspeck country town in the middle of nowhere.  My grandparents used to live there, and I actually spent a semester there after moving from Hawaii.  I did really well in school then, since I could finish all of my homework on the 3 hour bus ride.  Not to mention that there were no distractions, and very limited television reception.  The town was dying, and really there was only second hand shops and a general store.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Third Wave Gentrification is an interesting article that mirrors something I've been thinking about for a while. Still what I found on the web was quite a shock. Anthropolgically speaking we are more adept at living in small village like settings. I hope that this "third wave Gentrification", is the meme of the future. Even though I knew that small towns were being revitalized, seeing that small sleepy Hazel has a website was a shock.

But now apparently Hazel has become Antique central.  It's actually described as, "alive, vibrant, and bustling." .  These are terms that I would never have thought would be applied to Hazel.  The town didn't even have a gas station last time I was there.  It was nine miles from anywhere, which was the town of Murray.  Murray can only be described as being somewhere if you can compare it to Hazel. 

Please tell me I'm dreaming.  This is just too weird.  But still I would like to live in a small town like this, as long as it is within reach of the ocean and about 30 miles to a major city.  I'm just hoping that telecomuting will eventually make it happen.

This is supposed to be the next big meme.  Telecomuting will revitalize all of those small towns.  They have really nice houses and property that are dirt cheap.  This is supposed to be the "Third Wave Gentrification" that should make living in small town America nice again.  I was really happy when I saw the Tech Central article.  It was something that I had been thinking about for a while.  Every time I drive through a small town and see all those huge houses that are cheap by comparison.

Though small towns are more gossipy, they do have their benefits.  People tend to be friendlier, though they are still exceptions.  However people "talk" about those exceptions.  There is less crowding, and a more relaxed feeling.  Once gentrification starts there will be small cafe's and bookshops.  Maybe even mini borders or B. Dalton's.  It is also quieter and easier to hear the sounds of nature.

Here's some quotes from the article.:

... it occurred to me, though, that the day places like this one will become real dot-com towns may be coming.

Real estate in much of rural America is shockingly inexpensive, especially in the remote parts of the West. Houses are practically free compared with what they cost in Seattle and Portland, not to mention what they cost in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. That's because hardly anyone can move there and find a job. First Wave agriculture economies (to borrow Alvin Toffler's terminology) require fewer and fewer humans to do the work. These places hemorrhage young people to large urban areas, and they've been doing it ever since the Second Wave Industrial Revolution got rolling hundreds of years ago. Rural economies keep spiraling downward, and home prices circle the drain along with them. When the current generation of senior citizens passes, and a smaller number of young people grow up to take their places, home prices will be knocked into oblivion. The number of houses for sale will drastically exceed the number of people who live anywhere near them and might want to buy one.

Meanwhile, telecommuting jobs are more common than ever. There will only be more of them in the future. In the past such jobs were rare because they were impractical or downright impossible. Blue collar workers needed to show up in person at factories. Office workers didn't have email, teleconferencing, instant messaging, and other various "virtual water cooler" places to meet and discuss work projects online. Now they do.

I telecommute at several part-time writing and editing jobs simultaneously. Several of my old colleagues in the high tech industry do, too. One former co-worker of mine now tests software for a Portland company from the beach in Costa Rica. It's a great deal for him because, hey, he gets to live on a North American salary in an inexpensive ecotourism paradise where tech jobs of that sort of have never even existed. The company benefits, too, because it doesn't have to rent office space for him anymore.


These two trends -- declining rural real estate values and increasing white collar telecommuting jobs -- are slowly approaching their respective tipping points. When they both reach those points, a third new trend will likely be born. At the same time large numbers of people can effectively work from anywhere, real estate in the countryside will be both plentiful and even more dizzyingly cheap than it already is. Many who today leave cities for the suburbs because they want to live in "the country" will have the option of actually living in the country at hugely reduced cost, with real peace and quiet, with vanishingly close to zero crime rates, and with zero-minute commute times. Towns like may, then, become small dot-com cities in fact as well as in name.

The First Wave agriculture revolution created small towns - or "villages." The Second Wave Industrial Revolution depleted and drained them. The Third Wave tech revolution just might restore them.

Plus it would be nice to have a nice place where I could actually bicycle or moped to the local convienence store. Whenever I drive through Curryville or Paris, MO I get the same feeling. Nice quiet, and wonderful houses. A place that feels like it has history to it. A place with space, and the feel of peace. Perry and other small towns like it combine the suburbs and city into a manageable whole.



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