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JOHN HOOD COLUMN: Forums will reconnect North Carolinians

(February 18, 2019) - I was born in Charlotte. But I grew up in rural Mecklenburg County. There used to be such a place — and, indeed, quite a few such places still exist in our increasingly urbanized state.

My family lived on 40 acres, mostly forest with a freight-rail track running through it. When the train came by, the engineer waved. We waved back, even after we had piled rocks and coins on the track to see what would happen. We planted beans and shucked corn and picked blackberries. We fished the pond on the other side of the cow pasture. For part of my childhood, we had a box on a rural route, not a street address.

I now live in suburban Wake County — sort of. My neighborhood is bordered on all sides by farms and stables. It’s not unheard of for me to look out my window and see folks riding by on their horses. Our German shepherd snarls and barks at the riders, as if to shout “How dare you? Don’t you know you’re in the suburbs?”

North Carolinians have been talking for years about the rural-urban divide, and we ought to be. But we don’t really live in rigidly separated “rural” places and “urban” places. And the largest share of North Carolinians live in places they and others would call suburban.

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