I am grateful to all the people I interviewed for this project. A National Science Foundation grant for Infrastructure to Develop a Human-Environment Regional Observatory Network (1920-KSU-NSF-8052) funded part of my fieldwork in western Kansas. Craig Colten and two anonymous reviewers deserve special thanks for their very helpful comments for improving the manuscript.
AD HOC REGIONALISM IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT*
Article first published online: 7 SEP 2011
© 2011 by the American Geographical Society of New York
Volume 101, Issue 3, pages 334–352, July 2011
How to Cite
LU, M. (2011), AD HOC REGIONALISM IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT. Geographical Review, 101: 334–352. doi: 10.1111/j.1931-0846.2011.00100.x
- Issue published online: 7 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 7 SEP 2011
- ad hoc regionalism;
- economic development;
- Four Corners region;
- rural America;
- U.S. Southwest;
- western Kansas
Government units such as counties and cities have long been the basis for economic development, service delivery, and problem solving in rural America, but they are increasingly inappropriate, because many of them are too small to reach the critical mass and because rural issues often transcend arbitrarily set political boundaries. To overcome the resultant adverse effects, many rural communities have been rethinking their development strategies and actively forging regional partnerships. Ad hoc regionalism is a politically feasible and effective way for rural communities to collaborate in these initiatives. The exact issues that spark such collaboration may vary from place to place, but they are all grassroots, voluntary regional governance frameworks or innovations. They allow rural communities to pool their resources and reach the critical mass necessary to tackle a variety of regional issues and take advantage of new economic development opportunities without replacing or threatening existing government units. The two case studies discussed in this article—the western Kansas Rural Economic Development Alliance and the San Juan Forum in the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States—show that ad hoc regionalism offers several advantages over rural communities working independently but that challenges in implementing it exist.