In Big Rural: Rural Industrial Places, Democracy, and What Next, Crystal Cook Marshall unveils the rural not as wild and unknowable but as measured and intervened-in as big cities. Drawing international comparisons with a case study centering on the Pocahontas Coalfield, Cook Marshall documents that rural places are often systems among systems that scientists and engineers heavily shape both in landscape and culture. Often single sector economies with consolidated power and automation away of jobs, these rural industrial places compound the problems of their inhabitants, even threatening their capacity to practice democracy. Cook Marshall interacts with rural interveners from industry to Rural Studies and Science and Technology scholars to policy advocates, also detailing the gaps in related scholarship. Building from analysis, she proposes a range of antidotes to the extraction and destruction of “Big Rural” both in material life and in knowledge, such as potential National Rural and Sustainable Agricultural strategies. Through these, in interviews with rural change agents, through research, and through local and federal paths, Cook Marshall asserts a way forward for the rural that is more equitable and just.
Crystal Cook Marshall is director at The North Carolina AgrAbility Partnership (NC AgrAbility) and is faculty at North Carolina A&T State University.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Technology and the State of the State in the Pocahontas Coalfield
Interlude One: Jason Tartt, Sr.
Chapter Two: Scientific Promises and Prosperity: Constructing Big Rural
Interlude Two: Atlas Charles
Chapter Three: Democratic Possibilities and Policies in Big Rural
Chapter Four: So, What of a National Rural Strategy?
Interlude Three: Amelia Bandy
Chapter Five: Toward a National Sustainable Agricultural Strategy
Interlude Four: A White Paper as Community Act
Conclusion: Research, Resources, Revealing, Redefining, Remaking
About the Author
In a clear, eminently practical, utterly heartfelt, disarmingly honest, and exhaustively researched voice, Crystal Cook Marshall urges us to observe, think, and talk carefully and imaginatively about "big rural"—the rural space that connects us all in vital and identifiable ways to Appalachia and to the Pocahontas Coalfield. Dr. Cook Marshall brings together and listens intently to an extraordinary range of variously informed opinions and policies, scientific and engineering research, and personal desires regarding Appalachia past, present and future. Yet, she cannot abide easy answers. She stands, in that cold gray light of dawn, both weary and hopeful about Appalachia. She shows us how and what we can learn from big rural about our collective human future. It's a complex and compelling future. I can think of no better guide than Crystal Cook Marshall.