Sometimes Rappahannock County seems so different from the rest of the United States that it feels like its own, separate country. But consider this:
If we were indeed an independent nation-state, we’d be in serious trouble. We don’t produce enough to cover the costs of what we consume, so to get hard currency we sell off our only assets (real estate) to foreigners (newcomers).
That’s just another (perhaps overly dramatic) way of saying Rappahannock County doesn’t really have what is popularly called a “sustainable business model.”
Agriculture is no longer this rural county’s economic engine. With a few notable exceptions, the once vibrant small family farms here simply can’t compete with hugely scaled-up agribusinesses.
And while ever-growing tourism dollars are welcome, they may not provide the painless panacea that many of our leaders seem to be counting upon. For in becoming simply a “tourist destination,” like Nantucket or Telluride, will we be selling our soul, just as many believe that the Massachusetts whaling capital and Colorado mining village have done by effectively becoming themeparks for the well-to-do?
But what’s the alternative?
In the coming months, the Rappahannock News intends to devote what limited resources we have to exploring this and other important questions — the answers to which are critical to the county’s future. But first, we want to hear from our engaged readers. What other questions should be posed — and then explored in-depth?
Housing, available and affordable? Drug use? Local governance? Environmental threats? Land use?
Please let us know what you think are the most important issues facing Rappahannock, and we’ll do our best to start a meaningful conversation.
For in less than two decades (the year 2033 to be precise), the county will be celebrating its bicentennial, and we should begin thinking now about the shape of its third century.