A state’s image is shaped by a glimpse out the window of someone driving through or a story in the national press. This morning my Google News Alert had two links that really pointed that out.
One is a blog entitled THE EXPEDITIONARY MAN’S BIKE TOUR, an account of a family’s cross-country bike tour. An excerpt from the Mississippi stage reads, “Terrific people in Tupelo.” From the Alabama stage comes this:
“I was struck by three things on my first day riding in Alabama. First, of all of the states we’ve gone through, Alabama drivers seem to be the most impatient of bicyclists. It was interesting that literally as soon we crossed the state line, we began to have several drivers honk at us in irritation if they were delayed by even a few seconds. The honk was apparently their sign of disapproval of us being on the road. We had maybe 1-2 drivers do this in Oklahoma, but drivers have generally been great along the way. Fortunately, most of the drivers were fine and all of the semis gave us enough room and were generally patient. Second, on the Alabama state highways we went on, there was litter everywhere—miles and miles and miles of it. Really sad. They need to have those sponsor-a-mile of highway programs for Hwy 18! Third, there are more churches per mile in Alabama than any other state we’ve gone though. It is dizzying how many small churches there. I hope that these churches are ministering the many in need in this part of the state”
The other blog that mentioned Mississippi this morning was that of Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, who had these words:
“In Flight of the Creative Class, I argued that America was no longer a single country, but two or more divided along the lines of social and economic class. Now, alongside Bill Bishop’s, The Big Sort, comes a new American Human Development Index, modeled on the landmark UN report. The Independent summarizes some of its key findings.
“The United States of America is becoming less united by the day. A 30-year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New England.(emphasis added) Huge disparities have also opened up in income, health and education depending on where people live in the US, according to a report published yesterday.”
So, what’s my point? It is that I find it fascinating that both these alerts were under the search the news heading of “Mississippi Economic Development.”
By the way, I’m just about finished with reading The Big Sort. I’ll have a book review for you in a week or so. I’ll tell you now that it is one of the more profound books I’ve read this year.