the pandemic is not your vacation

No traditional newsletter this week, as I was working on this piece — the result of talking at length with three dozen people who live who live full-time in rural/resort areas (or who are debating leaving the city for their second homes). I was trying to get at the larger story of how the privilege to “escape” cities is going to ravage rural communities, and was assisted mightily by several rural studies scholars who’ve been working and analyzing and writing about these issues for years.

What I arrived at:

“Americans struggle mightily with the ideology of individualism: that all that matters, in a particular moment, is what is happening to you and yours. Rural America is asking you to think otherwise. You might “enjoy” your quarantine more. But the rural places so many Americans treat as playgrounds, and the workers who make that play and respite and feeling of safety possible, may suffer profoundly in your service.”

I hope you’ll read the whole thing, and share widely with others who might be considering for these sorts of escapes — or those in rural areas looking for a way to tell others why it’s so important to stay away. This is all so hard, and all so important.

If you have ideas for a story or angle on everything that’s happening that you feel is going uncovered, just reply to this email (or find me at annehelenpetersen @ gmail.com). I also have Signal, which you can ask for, and will never quote you or use your story without your permission.

All of my stories these past few weeks have relied on people from all over, in all sorts of situations, telling me what’s going on and why it matters and others should pay attention. We have to keep telling this story the best we know how — and, at the risk of extreme corniness, I can’t do it alone. Tell me what’s getting ignored, what’s different and happening in your community, and I will do my very best.

Everyone’s asking how everyone’s doing, and most everyone is answering “not great.” Fucking same. But this, too, will end — and how we understand it now, and later, will determine how we can make sure that when it does happen again, it won’t be like this.

All of my good and sustaining thoughts, hoarded and allocated your way. And some Steve for good fortune.