I moved to the X to escape Y

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A few weeks into lockdowns everywhere, a curious thing happened on Instagram feeds. More and more, they filled with images of pretty cottages adorned with climbers and flower-laden trellises, soft-focus sunbeams streaming through dense foliage, dappled wooded pathways and earthy mushrooms growing in abandon, tea tables and picnics in shaded gardens near gurgling streams laden with homemade sourdough bread and scones, soft cotton dresses with smocking and embroidered with strawberries and butterflies... part surreal, part escapist fantasy from the horrors around, and partly about taking control. Much like Scandinavian concepts hygge and friluftsliv, the pastoral aesthetic of cottagecore is striking a chord. At its heart, cottagecore hinges heavily on modern escapist fantasies, and posts are full of foraged mushrooms, long billowy dresses, gingham tablecloths, baskets of wildflowers, sourdough bread and mossy terrariums. There are babbling brooks surrounded by woodland, snails, beeswax candle-making, delicate doilies, farm animals, forest bathing and rustic simplicity. "Cottagecore is all about the outdoors, slow living and often includes country houses. It's a warm, cosy community full of nature, growing your own foods, spending time with pets, picnicking in the garden. Think Anne of Green Gables meets The Secret Garden," says cottagecore practitioner Lucy Blackall, whose surroundings in Oxfordshire in the UK encompass the ideals of countryside living, and tie in perfectly with the cottagecore aesthetic. While cottagecore might have increased on social-media platforms, it has a more rooted sibling in homesteading, a lifestyle based on self-sufficiency and subsistence agriculture. The concept saw a resurgence in the 1960s and 70s but subsequently went below the radar – only to re-emerge in recent years, with hipster undertones, as proponents advocated adapting renewable energy technologies and growing heirloom vegetables, even if they didn't necessarily live in rural locations. And underlying the aesthetic is also a strong affinity to environmentalism, which ties in with attributes like self-care and thriftiness. "In our fast-paced society," says Lauren Molloy, "the process of making, doing, feeling connected, has virtually been eliminated. We love the thought of slowing down, feeling connected and having the experience be meaningful".

'Cottagecore' and the rise of the modern rural fantasy

While I love that the United States is the country where these class distinctions matter least, people’s classes still matter in the US and they matter a lot more during stressful times when class conflicts intensify. To help you get the picture in a more intimate way, let’s do a simple exercise. Assume that most people who don’t know you well look at you as being in a member of one or several classes, because that’s a good assumption. Now, to imagine how you are perceived, look at the following list and ask yourself which classes you fall into. After you answer that, ask yourself which classes you feel an affinity for and expect to be your allies. Which classes do you not like or view as your enemies? Which ones are the ruling classes, and which ones are the revolutionary classes who want to topple them? Which ones are on the ascent, and which ones are on the decline? You might consider writing these down and thinking about them because during periods of greater conflict the classes you are in or are assumed to be in will become more important in determining who you will be with and against, what you will do, and where you will end up. 1. Rich or poor? 2. Right, left, or moderate? 3. Race? 4. Ethnicity? 5. Religion? 6. Gender? 7. Lifestyle (e.g., liberal or conservative)? 8. Location (e.g., urban, suburban, or rural)?

Principles for Dealing With the Changing World Order, Ray Dalio

“Let's buy a bar together” or “Let's buy land and move to the country and raise our kids together” are common refrains among urban-dwelling 20somethings, but very few people actually do it. I wish these interests were taken more seriously, and that we encouraged each other to act upon them, rather than thinking of them fondly as the whims of young people before reality hits.

27: Friend groups - Monomythical

But the most fascinating discovery in West’s research came from the data that didn’t turn out to obey Kleiber’s law. West and his team discovered another power law lurking in their immense database of urban statistics. Every datapoint that involved creativity and innovation—patents, R&D budgets, “supercreative” professions, inventors—also followed a quarter-power law, in a way that was every bit as predictable as Kleiber’s law. But there was one fundamental difference: the quarter-power law governing innovation was positive, not negative. A city that was ten times larger than its neighbor wasn’t ten times more innovative; it was seventeen times more innovative. A metropolis fifty times bigger than a town was 130 times more innovative.

Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson

I was raised in a rural area, and have lived in cities my entire adult life (Paris, NYC, Sydney, Austin). Both are good, both are bad. Cities are great for idea exchanges and partying -- but bad for deep relationships. Rural areas are bad for open mindedness -- but good for achieving peace. Don't worship either lifestyle if you can help it. In sum:

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