Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why is bigger better?

My question may trigger a negative response (eg, “not true”). Nevertheless, one can only conclude that we – at the very least subconsciouslymust believe in bigger = better. I do not but I’m an exception, along with 15% of the world population. About 85% live in urban areas.

My village (c.2,000 people) offers at least something: an elementary school, bars, restaurants, a supermarket and public transport, Recently, I noticed a beautiful house in a nearby province. Further scrutiny revealed that the village (c.400 people) offers nothing: no school, supermarket or public transport.

My example (probably) explains the human need, want and belief in a process that we call urbanisation: “the population shift from rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change” (Wiki).

Since about 2019, I have been noticing articles about buying houses in Italy (eg, Sicily) for 1 euro, like CNN-2019, FT-2022, Independent-2022, the Local-2022, SBS-2022, Washington Post-2021. These are not scams but desperate attempts to prevent small rural towns from “dying” (eg, BBC-2021).

My Dutch and Italian examples are related: small rural towns seem to have no future. It’s a vicious cycle: declining birth rates, closing elementary schools, disappearing public transport, disappearing retail outlets. The only newcomers are well-off retirees with private transport.

Urban areas (eg, cities) offer bars, hospitals, jobs, libraries, music venues, public transport, restaurants, schools, services, shops, sports venues, universities. Why would anyone stay in a village? Young people enter an urban “treadmill” with (almost) no escape; even in their future retirement.

My c.25 years in Haarlem never felt as living in a city because of the unique location of that house. I will always be a country boy (my 2019 blog) and have no appetite for living in a city. I love nature (eg, birds, trees) and its lack of artificial lights and sounds. I’m the exception though; not the default.

The solution seems simple: either demolish abandoned villages, or build several thousands of houses to attract young families, retail and schools. Latter may not be realistic in rural Italy. It would be in my country. China has its own “solution”: demolishing villages and forcing people into bigger ones.

Do villages have a future? Probably not; except for agriculture (ie, plants and livestock).

“The City was the acme of efficiency, but it made demands of its inhabitants. It asked them to live in a tight routine and order their lives under a strict and scientific control.”

A quote from The Caves of Steel, a 1954 science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov

Living for the City (1973) by Stevie Wonder
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album, Wiki-song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

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