Cities boom while rural areas struggle. People seeking opportunity leave the countryside for urban areas. Small towns left behind after the local mill or factory closes down are hollowed-out shells.
We’ve heard these tropes before; cliches about the urban-rural divide abound. But the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connections project is built on the premise that there’s more that unites us than divides us.
“Regionalism” has become something of a public policy bromide these days — an unwritten assumption that informs the planning, economic and growth decisions that supersede any one political jurisdiction.
But what is easy to say can be hard to do.
About 45 minutes from Charlotte in neighboring Cabarrus County, the owners of 1,000-acre Porter Farms raise chickens and pigs on part of their land. The chickens are sold to Tysons Foods, and the pigs become sausage, pork chops and spare ribs for Smithfield Foods. Another part of the property is a cattle farm, and since 2012 it also has become a destination for those seeking a taste of the country. Two large, climate-controlled barns with expansive views of the scenic landscape host weddings and other events.
Over the past few years, the family has taken steps to make sure their land won’t ever be used for subdivisions or gas stations.
From basketball to banks, Charlotte’s got a lot (as the slogan goes). But critics say one thing is missing: an actual brand.
Compared to iconic city identities such as Nashville’s “Music City” and even Rockland, Maine’s claim to fame as the “lobster capital of the world,” Charlotte seems to lack one defining characteristic that sets the city and its surrounding counties apart.