Editorial: What Works

Rappahannock County is not too big to fail. That is one proposition upon which all county citizens — no matter how divided over contentious issues like riparian buffers — should agree. In fact, being small is the source of our success — making us, perhaps, a role model for the future.

Other models have failed, some spectacularly, as evidenced by the world’s recent and continuing economic turmoil. No longer is constant growth perceived as the highest good, particularly if that growth is unsustainable and fueled by financial instruments not reality-based.

Here in Rappahannock, everything always has been — and remains very much so – grounded in reality.

We have no Citigroup or Goldman Sachs. Instead, we have a community bank called Rappahannock National, whose loan officers often can actually walk on the assets being borrowed against. And they know by name and reputation the people who are borrowing the money.

Here in Rappahannock, the rule of thumb is always back to the basics, nothing tricky, nothing fancy, nothing too good to be true.
So it is with the small family farmer — embodying the Jeffersonian and agrarian ideal, as exciting today as it was 200 years ago. Thus there is no huge agribusiness here — no ConAgra or Archer Daniels Midland. But, instead, places with evocative names like Waterpenny, Sunnyside, Mount Vernon, and Touchstone.

Even the county’s newspaper, once part of a larger chain, has devolved into a small — almost ma-and-pa-store-like — model.

Yes, it’s back to basics, the simple life. That’s the source of Rappahannock success, now and into the future. It starts with the ground itself — the land. This natural, undeveloped landscape is our greatest asset. But it is an asset that can not be measured in dollars and cents only. One must acknowledge an inspirational beauty, indeed spiritual quality, that can not be quantified.

Walter Nicklin,