How it is happening in Rural America
Marie Cirillo - 3 - 3- 2009

Born in 1776 this nation will be 223 years old July 4, 2009
We could think of ourselves as in a mid-life crisis, frantically exploring ways to survive it. The challenge is intensified by troubles all over this Earth. This nation has some advantage in being ‘not so old’ but also some disadvantage in being ‘spoiled’ .

In the process of growing up we became a nation of cities. We attracted people world wide to come live with us because of the systems, designs and often extravagant and exciting newness of city life in America. Life was stimulating and comfortable in such a setting.
Compared to the old world, everything appeared much cheaper here than there. This was possible because this new nation had so vast an expanse of land and water that could be used and manipulated, transformed and transported to build and sustain our cities. What Rural America couldn't provide, money could purchase from foreign countries.
In time our capacity to grow more cities required generating more food and energy (rural resources). The mushrooming of poverty, the concentration of wealth and the consequent environmental problems found, in different forms in urban and rural places, made life in America more expensive and more political.
Now our country experiences deep divides that looks like a mid-life crisis, Our cities are deteriorating with age and our natural resources lack the abundance and vitality to keep our cities alive. Global trade is bogged down.

A Domestic Agenda
How do we handle this mid-life crisis. What are we doing about our home grown pain? One way is to dedicate funds for infrastructure. We need to shift from homeland security to home land maturity.
Homeland maturity suggests a focus on taking care of the world we have built for ourselves. In the news now, we are looking at infrastructures like water and sewer lines, power lines, bridges, downtown areas and blighted neighborhoods. Work on thses will create jobs. Once families have job security, everyone will be happy contributors to the conventional means of products and processes. People will feel secure in Americas ability to continue providing for its growing population.

Not so quick say some of us from Rural America
This mid-life crisis will not be overcome if an infrastructure important to rural security is not considered. The most marginalized rural communities are those whose basic economy is built around extracting and harvesting from the land and the natural resources above it, below it and surrounding it.
Our infrastructure needs are primarily around the restoration of land and water. These are living organisms, not lifeless products like concrete, aluminum or plastic that are essential ingredients to restoring city and small town infrastructures.
Because our primary infrastructure repair and restoration needs are organic it is essential that rural settlements be designed and built in ways that support people who know how to sustain the life of a forest , a river, minerals and foods of their community that is in keeping with the life cycle of each kind of life sustaining organism that creates a whole earth community.
In shifting the present day focus on science and technology to the life principles of prime resource growth, requires a whole new set of ideas that government needs to shape into policy, systems, funding and monitoring.

Implications for a rural infrastructure agenda
We rural people need to remain indigenous rather than a migratory species wondering helplessly from pillar to post in search of a life. The life of natural resources, which have a longer life span than ours, needs to be cared for through the intergenerational passing on of the knowledge and responsibility of bringing the rural landscape and rural society back to life.
The government has a major role in making this transition from neglect to concern. We can’t do it alone.
Government needs to see the relationship between a restored urban infrastructure and a restored rural infrastructure.
The voting process does not work for rural people because we are a small percentage of voters in a large expanse of land. City people are the majority of voters living on a comparatively very small piece of land. What is the appropriate rural voice that can turn their life around and, in so doing, save the peace and security of the millions living in cities.
Success, up to now, has come to America because corporate industry has combined capital and technology to deliver the primary resources into yet another network of capitalists and technocrats.
How does government open up options for new choices to the smallest and most marginalized sector of Rural American society. These core settlements of indigenous people have the greatest potential to make the long term investments in restoring the natural resource infrastructure upon which all other successful infrastructure investments depend.
We cannot move into our third millennium of existence as the United States of America without recognizing the land whose generosity has spoiled us and the Native American People whose wisdom can guide us.

Positioning all women to be equal and effective contributors to the change that must occur
We women are sensitive to the life forces within us and around us in intimate ways. When we speak to government they listen and show compassion but then have to get back to business as usual, allowing little time to think about the restructuring required to “fix things” so that we might become full participants of the new plans, policies, management systems, funding and monitoring crucial to our nations passage out of this mid-life crisis.
What marginalized rural and urban women of all color and origin need is the opportunity to better understand the processes of government so that we can say to them: “This is our problem. These are the ways we try to solve them, And, you can be more efficient and effective by doing this and that which will enable you to tap into the richness of our lived experiences” Then we must learn how to lobby or do whatever is necessary and legal so they don’t forget us.
When we women get to this point, America will be half way through its present crisis.
Then we will have the rest of the millennium to realize our full potential .