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Thursday, June 28, 2012

City life and safety

Paracynic made some very good comments about people being safer in the city. (Exits and Safety Tips) He’s right that if you have a heart attack in a major city, paramedics will be treating you in minutes and you are five minutes away from a quality hospital. Out here in the country we do things differently -we die.

My point wasn’t so much the merits of city vs country life. The focus was on how do you get out of such a place. People should think about it. Maybe you’ve got a private helicopter or a fast boat in the harbor. Maybe you keep a sharp weather out for trouble and lead the exodus rather than being caught up in traffic. Perhaps you plan on biking out down railroad tracks. Some people escaped Manhattan on 911 by kayaking off the island.

Around the world, the trend is for people to leave the country and head into cities. That’s where the economic opportunities are. My own ancestors were happy to trade life on a Quebec potato farm for factory work.

There are some real positives to city life. It is possible to live with a much smaller energy footprint. Cars are not needed. Big apartment buildings are more efficient than single houses. Everything you need is in easy walking distance. Political power becomes concentrated in cities. Who wants to be the king of empty space? Because of that power, the countryside will be stripped to keep cities going.

Some look at cities and see a teeming hive of activity. I see a box. It’s important to be able to get out of that box. My favorite solution is to not put myself in that box any more than I have to.

Cities can be nasty traps. The Warsaw Jewish ghettos. Sarajevo during the Balkan wars, New Orleans during the Katrina, Detroit any given day.

There are black swan events that would make cities serious death traps. tsunamis, EMP pluses, nuclear war, hurricanes, or civil unrest. I would not want to be in any desert city if the water supply was ever cut off.

That being said, Paracynic is right. The odds are that on any give day you are safer in the city.

That works as long as the infrastructure of the city is up and running. You can’t exactly live off the land in the city. A city is dependent on a steady stream of goods, food, water and energy to keep going.

Of course, everything isn’t black and white. The world isn’t divided up between New York and East Mooseknuckle. There are smaller cities that are quite livable. Plenty of country places really can’t support their populations, small as they are. I’ve a friend who plans to move to country when he retires, but he has some medical issues. He’s checking out property in the country near a top quality regional hospital. It’s small but well equipped and staffed by some of the best people in their fields. Moving out to the country doesn’t have to mean disappearing into the Bitteroot Mountains.

For me, the city has too many rules and points of control. Many of us country people figure we can just fade away into the bush. I'll take my chances in the country. Sure, I could die from an accident or a heart attack, but living in the city would kill me by inches.



  1. I get physically ill in the city anymore. We switched our pharmacy from Crystal River to Dunnellon, both small cities, but the drive along 40 to from Inglis to Dunnellon is more pleasant & everything we ever stop at anymore is within a half mile stretch.

    Have lots of relatives here in Florida but am not about to drive to Naples, Port St. Lucie, Sarasota or Tallahassee to see them. Instead, we've invited them to "old Florida."

    My mother's family came by covered wagon from Quebec and some settled on the northern east coast. Perhaps we're related!

  2. I know the area. We often drive up 41 to visit friends. Shopped at the West Marine in Crystal River.

    Most people have no idea how big Florida really is.

    We might be related. Most of Quebec can be traced back to about 6 families.

    1. Mine came from the Company of 100 who arrived from France.

  3. I'm with you, I'll take the country...even though I'm stuck here in the city and die by inches.

    1. That's what makes your time in the country a necessity, not an option. At least you can recharge your batteries.

  4. We came back out to the west vancouver washington state 1978 summer just about yes in fact june 21, 1978 34 years, the city is now where we are incorporated in 2000 the county getting more crowded, no jobs, lots of people, hunger like Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will never know, people running like hell out of california and god forsaked Oregon, to what we are just across the border from Oregon, no jobs here, sorry, hunger for working people who work 3 part time jobs totalling 60 hours a week, yikes, schools no one is votig when you are cramped into an apt. working 3 part time jobs, feeding your kids, paying almost $4.00 a gallon for gasoline people don't vote for schools, built a huge library, no friendly to get to it, shut down hours for the other libraries, when you don't have public buses that are reasonable to ride, public libraries to use, public schools to access what the hell country are you really livig in, we are retired, no one can buy homes at 3 percent mortgages because few have any savings, no job that will pay for the mtg..this election is going to be something else, we want to go back to colorful Colorado just worry about wild fires destroying a lot of the state, we would only live in Denver, it never burns in hell there too many resources, firemen, etc..people don't build million dollar homes there that are so far out the fire dept. says oh, hell well good luck when you have a fire, no they tell them they cannot, to move close to a fire dept. and you can be sure their fire levy's are voted on all the time..I like rural areas, but one cannot access too much if you don't drive in way out rural areas, I bike everywhere and ride a publice bus for $22.00 a month for all whee!

  5. I wasn't trying to pick a fight, or change the focus, but I had to object to the characterization of the city as a trap.

    Yeah, it can be, in certain circumstances.

    But the woods can be a trap. If you live in the country, just a flat tire can be enough of a trap to keep you from escaping. Or getting to the store, or the drug store for your prescriptions, or the hospital, or a shelter if a storm takes the roof off your house. Lots of public transportation is a freedom for the urbanite and its lack a box for the rural population. A bad snowstorm can strand you while you wait on plows that have prioritized the population centers. Downed power lines get fixed first in the urban centers, last out in the sticks. The mountains can become a deathtrap without even having a big event, like a hurricane or an EMP. Just a drop below average temperature kills a few hikers every year.

    I think what we perceive as safe is what we find familiar. You know the woods, you know how to navigate them and survive in them. You could probably get away from a local disaster even if the roads were snowed in. You don't know the big city, so you feel trapped, only knowing the one way in, not knowing the alternate paths, or how the buses run or what neighborhoods are safe. Problems out in the country that would kill an unprepared city dweller are just an inconvenience to you, since you know how to start a fire.

    Take a city kid and put him in the woods, he'll die even from a small emergency. But he might be fine in the city even if the big one goes up, since he's in his element.

    Life adapts to its environment. And feels uneasy in a strange new environment.