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Category Archives: Rural issues

ATV’s: a new reality of rural life

Yesterday we had the first snow of the winter. It wasn’t a particularly heavy or pretty snow, but the neighbors, who have not one but two ATV’s, invited me to ride with them on today’s equivalent of a sleigh ride: the ATV ride. These neighbors have property on three sides of the abbey’s woodland, and […]

Let’s hear it for the P.O.

Many things have vanished in rural America. Jobs and people (particularly young people) are at the top of the list. One institution that remains is the U.S. Postal Service, which has shown a remarkable ability to change with the times. Though I lived in San Francisco for 17 years, much of my life has been […]

Using the Apple watch in fringe areas

Sorry, non-nerds. This is a nerd post. Technology companies these days assume that everyone, everywhere, has fast Internet and good cell phone coverage. In rural America, that is not the case. Millions of us have been left behind. In the 10 years that I have lived here in the woods, things have gotten better. But […]

Environmental justice: The people fight back

Al Gore This is a rather long photo essay. I hope you’ll bear with me. People sometimes ask me why I choose to live in a rural and seemingly backward place like Stokes County, North Carolina, after 18 years in an urbane place like San Francisco. Stokes is a poor county in the foothills of […]

Farm porn

Click here for high-resolution version A high dynamic range photo of a farm on Flat Shoals Road, Quaker Gap, Stokes County, North Carolina. This is a digital photo and will become part of an experiment to compare results from a film camera with HDR digital photos.

Small solutions for light pollution

The new LED fixture, aimed in such a way as to limit its coverage to 180 degrees. Acorn Abbey is near the end of an unpaved private road. The abbey feels remote and isolated, but there are other homes on the road. Luckily the other places are closer to the nearest paved road than I […]

Ken’s new book

In a recent comment here, Jo asked whether Ken Ilgunas was involved in the upkeep of the abbey’s orchard. Yes he has been, actually, very much so. Though the first trees were planted before Ken first came to the abbey, he has slaved in the orchard for many hours — planting new trees and replacements […]

Local milk!

While in the Winston-Salem Whole Foods on Monday, I was pleased to see milk from a local dairy in the dairy case. It’s grass-fed milk, and the dairy is Wholesome Country Creamery in Hamptonville. Hamptonville is in the Yadkin Valley not far from where I grew up. Not since I was in San Francisco have […]

An environmental victory

This is another of my photo essays on grassroots environmental activism. For three and a half years, ever since a Tea Party takeover of the legislature has tried to fast-track fracking and off-shore oil drilling into North Carolina, a tenacious little organization called No Fracking in Stokes has fought to keep fracking out of Stokes […]

What blowback looks like

After the little town of Walnut Cove agreed to let the state of North Carolina (at taxpayer expense) drill a geological core sample on town property to test for the presence of frackable gas, what followed was an uprising. These photos are from a press conference called by the state and national NAACP to announce […]