Small Town Desperation…

Sign in Fredericksburg, Indiana 

I ripped my shoulder in Suriname trying to avoid falling down the waterfall-of-death and now I find myself in a small town in Indiana.

I forgot my TheraBand—basically a big rubber band that physical therapists hand out in the same way flight attendants hand out peanuts—which I’m using because I have this idea that I can work my way out of this ripped shoulder instead of going through surgery.

But, there are no TheraBands for sale in rural Indiana. There are plenty of pills and creams to passively apply to your suffering body part—you can even buy Godiva chocolates next to your diabetes needs in the local pharmacy. But nothing to physically work your way through an ailment.

Because of urbanization there are not many young people left in this town. The store that caters to elderly with medical needs is thriving so they were able to order a TheraBand.

On the drive to this town there is another small town that went completely bankrupt. They propped a sheet of 4X8 plywood up in front of their town hall and painted: “Town of Fredericksburg needs money for upkeep and their monthly bills.” They hoped motorists would stop in and give them money. So we did. But it was such a sad situation. is doing a great job of documenting these kinds of issues.

Why in the world am I rambling on about this?

National Geographic sent me around the world multiple times on a story about 7 billion humans inhabiting the planet in 2011. They did not use much of the work, but you can see the photographs about urbanization HERE.

Crowded Road and Intersection | Mumbai, India

But the issues in the big cities that will just keep getting bigger are not so much fun either. Kampala is a parking lot. The only way to get around the stopped traffic is to hire a boda boda driver – a small motorbike that wends it’s way between the bumpers of the clogged roads. You know you are in trouble on a boda boda if a driver actually puts on his helmet.

In Tokyo I hired a fixer whose main function was just to get me through all the transportation labyrinths – I saw more of Tokyo and surrounding Japan from a train, bus, or taxi window than anything else. Some of the days in Tokyo were spent with 10 hours of various transportation and then only two hours of actually working as a photographer.

One of the conclusions I came to on that story is the only really habitable place for your children in the next decades will be a mid to large size college town in a part of the world that has a good water supply.

Many people headed into retirement have their home as their only real asset. I wouldn’t make that investment decision in a small town or even an a suburb that is TOO far away from a city these days. And the allure of a small town is that you don’t have the hassles – the crush of population needs – that you have in the major cities.

It’s too bad – I’ve always thought I would like to live in a small town.

Fredericksburg Indiana Town Hall


  1. Interesting points, I was born and raised in a small town (pop. 20,000), and continue to live there. The economy is…well…modest. It is hard to be an artist, photographer, musician, or basically a creative person and make a living at it here, which is why I travel for my creative work and spend the rest of my time in a factory.

    I still like it here, but also wish I had options.