Back in June we found our way to Bamberg, South Carlolina and got a look an ambitious renovation of what had been their downtown business district. Bamberg's old commercial center had gone to hell, but not yet back, at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Does anyone remember the raving national panic over Y2K in which a clueless public came to believe that at the stroke of 01/01/00 all computers would crash and life would end? Well, Bamberg's business district crashed long before computers were invented. 01/01/00 was just another dead day on Main Street. In fact, the first day of 1900 might have seen more prosperity.
The reasons for the decline of small towns are well known and the road to their decline is well worn. What is new and of considerable interest is the effort to revive them and the citizens who might make this possible. An increasing disenchantment with crime, taxes and the invasive bureaucracy of urban life is turning more eyes toward the greener pastures or rural and small town living. Some have moved, more will follow, but there is, as always, a catch.
Postcards from the edge indicate that the placid life can also be a dull one. It is less a generational thing and more a bloc of people of all ages who want a simpler life. Those unwilling to till the land, chew tobacco or sit on the front porch all day were likely to go mad within the first trimester. This meant that folks would either become something like Eddie Albert and ZaZa Gabor of "Green Acres" or their children would all wind up looking like the Alman Brothers.
The newly paved streets and buffed up buildings might not become Grand Slam-berg, but it's a good start. It is the new attitude of people who want a richer life of greater opportunity in the greener pastures which might make it work. Otherwise, we will have a string of little boutique towns which will be nice places to visit, but...