I’m starting a blog… I was pretty sure that this was something I would never do. Like texting. And Facebook. And farming. And nursing (as a profession, not breastfeeding—a distinction that was necessary for my 5 year old daughter a little while ago) (PS, I am a man). Life takes a lot of interesting turns. And that will be a theme of this blog, however, the overarching story that I–we, but we’ll get to that later–want to tell is one of Exile and Exodus. The Exile is one that has been happening for a long time—really, since we left Eden. It is an Exile from the land. A separation; a movement away from home into a foreign land. A eastward journey.
In this context, I will call it urbanization and I’m pretty sure that at some point we all learned about it in social studies. Historically, it links to many different events, not the least of which is the industrial revolution, a phenomenon still active in the present with the industrialization of food production, the rise of megafarms and monocultures, and the decline of small towns and rural living. Wikipedia tells me that “The United Nations projected that half of the world’s population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008. It is predicted that by 2050 about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized. ”
My wife and I (the aforementioned “we”) grew up in a small town. I grew up in town and she, on a family-run grain farm. She was the farmer’s daughter and I, the son of a preacher-man. We are a country ballad waiting to to be written. As was the case with nearly all of our (12) classmates, we moved to the city after high school. Urbanization. It happens for lots of reasons: post-secondary, employment, getting away from your small town, establishing some independence, meeting new people, having a chance with someone that isn’t your cousin… And usually, once a person leaves their town, they only come back for grad weekend and Christmas, weddings and funerals.
But recently, we have noticed a change. Maybe it’s a movement. Maybe a coincidence. But for the handful of us that have packed our urban lives into Rubbermaid tubs and moved out of the city, it is most certainly an Exodus. We have picked up our careers, shunned conveniences, sold new houses, moved away from malls, and transplanted our families well outside of city limits. Like Abram, the father of the Hebrew people, we left behind the lives we had built and the comforts that they afforded, in order to pursue a calling, a burning in our bones, a chance for something more. The little town that I grew up in, a town boasting a whopping 150ish people within its grainfield- defined borders, has seen the influx of six families from the Calgary area this year, and several others from different urban centers. Six families leaving Calgary is completely inconsequential. But six families moving to Eaglesham… that is called a boom. Houses that have been for sale for a decade had multiple offers. People have had to look elsewhere because there aren’t enough houses available. I really have no idea if this is occurring anywhere other than here. As a guy who loves the slogan “The Rural Alberta Advantage” I really hope it is. Maybe there is a big picture. Maybe just a few weird families that left one of the wealthiest cities in the world in search of something different, more free, more profound. Either way, we live on a Range Road, have an address that starts with Rural Route 1, and are responsible for both our drinking water and for our water after we’re done drinking it. We have no garbage collection. We have a life that looks most days like a petting zoo crossed with a Mike Holmes special.
So why write a blog? And why now? Because I think we might be part of something. A movement? A reversal? A rebirth? A fool’s quest? Time will tell if we are on the cutting edge of a new phenomenon or if this little influx into a town that no one knows of is simply a one-off. But just in case there are others contemplating leaving the pavement behind in order for gravel, and greener pastures, we’ll keep writing our little blog in the hopes that someone finds us. We hope to create space to encourage others to take the risk, to get back to the life they left behind after high school, or to seek out a whole new adventure. This is our Posturban Experiment, and we hope that something here makes sense to someone else… Disclaimer: I am painfully aware of how much I overuse the ellipsis. I always have, I always will, its how I talk…