Based on the location you were raised, people will label you as a country kid or a city kid. Personally, I’ve lived in Riverview, Florida and Keene, New Hampshire for the bulk of my life (with a little bit of suburban Connecticut thrown right in the middle). Based on this, I’m labeled as “country folk”, someone who has lived on the more rural side of things. Small towns, small community, small talk, small everything. Buying local wasn’t the latest craze, it was what you always did.
But that’s not the life that many people lead. Keene is much more “urban” than its neighboring towns like Winchester, Richmond, Chesterfield, or Hinsdale, but it is still far from being a “city” (aside from the population, which is hiked up during the months when college is in session).
There has always been this perceived notion of city vs country, when it’s different for each person. However, the energy and aesthetic of the city definitely influences the people who live in it. Cities tend to be more left-leaning (interesting that they are also more democratic, both metaphorically and literally), while the countryside and more rural areas tend to be more conservative.
I’ve been doing a lot of fieldwork in researching the opinions of people who live in cities and the countryside help me with this project. Since i’m going to be making a blog installation, I figured I would gain insight about city and country life based on the blogs of others.
A glimpse at the downtown portion of Keene, NH
On the blogging website, the Guardian, an article was written with the pros of living in a city and living in the countryside. According to Jessica Reed and Heather Long, living in the city has a participatory feel to it. People take public transit over driving or they walk among the endless crowds of people. “If you want to have a semblance of a social life and like to do wild things like, oh, going to the cinema on a Monday night, the city is for you,” they argue.
One of the biggest arguments for living in a city is that there will always be a place for you to fit in. Unlike living in a small community, if you do not fit the lifestyle of the town you live in, it will often be hard for people to find friends. According to the article, “there is something for everyone”. The architecture of the cities also seems to reflect this lifestyle. Buildings of various sizes and shapes mirror this idea that anyone can be anything and there is something for every walk of life in the city (unless, of course, you want to live in a quiet, small, close-knit community).
DaVon Saunders, a writer for The Odyssey Online also wrote a comparison post about city life and country life. He seems more comforted with the suburban lifestyle, but eventually declares his preference for a countryside lifestyle. However, he mentions that the life of a city has this feel of protection – that your life is not constantly under the microscope of the society. Because there are so many people, mistakes and rumors often do not travel around because the probability of someone outside of your social circle knowing you is relatively limited.
But on another article from The Odyssey, Kaleigh Watkins highlights her ability to expand her personality and herself through moving from a small town into a large city.
“In that small town that I grew up in, without realizing it, I let myself fear deviating from the norm and I did my best to slip between the cracks and to go unnoticed. I let myself do what I could to please the stigma that was set in place for students and children in a town like ours.” – Kaleigh Watkins, What Happens When You Escape a Small Town
Kaleigh describes the democratic ideals of living in a city: the idea of expansion. Her self-growth was influenced by the diversity of the city. She was able to figure out who she truly was and overcome barriers which inhibited her growth from living in a small city.
It’s interesting that places with a lot of diversity also tend to be more left-leaning democrats, people who feel more progressive and comfortable with constantly changing and differentiating themselves from others in the city.
So could it be argued that the diverse buildings reflect the diverse crowd which reside below them?