The benefits of micro living
By By Buddy Bynum / editor
May 18, 2003
When I was growing up on Old Eighth Street Road in the shadow of John Moss Field in a house where my parents have lived for 50 years the words "family" and "community" always meant something up close and personal.
We, that is, my brother, Kenneth Buryl "Chic" Bynum, cousins and neighborhood friends, rode bicycles, played baseball, football and basketball and a few games of undetermined origin some with rules, some without invented on the spur of the moment.
We threw dirt clods and china berries at each other in make-believe battles. Summers were a time for dodging cow piles in Mosby's pasture on the way, barefoot most of the time, to the swimming hole at Okatibbee Creek, always watching out for snakes. We stayed out past dark and chased the "fog machine" as it chugged down the street, pumping out puffy white clouds of stuff that killed mosquitoes.
We dug a campout cave at Aunt Clarene's house, complete with shelves and a wood-burning stove with a pipe vented to the outside. We built a scooter, of sorts, from old lawn mower parts. We wrapped our hands in layers of towels and boxed like the heavyweights. Or so we thought.
We batted gravel from the driveway into what was then an empty field, using a stick or, if we were fortunate, an old baseball bat. We called each other not by telephone but with a screech from our own throats that I can neither spell nor recreate today. It must have sounded like it came from a big, hoarse bird, possibly injured.
Today, to social scientists, definition of the word "community" has been extended to include lots of things we as energetic children never considered. It's not about my community or even our community; it's about a global community.
But the essential function of a community remains: To offer the structure under which its residents are nurtured and can grow and prosper through good jobs and a higher quality of life. Much like parents and uncles and aunts and older cousins and neighborhood friends nurtured a bunch of us growing up on Old Eighth Street Road.
Good notoriety never hurts a community's development, so I took it as good news when a national economic development consulting firm announced last week that the Meridian area stands to gain more attention from its likely designation as a "micropolitan area."
Moran, Stahl &Boyer projects that a new Meridian micropolitan area will be created after applying new standards to classify urban areas to the most current Census data. The new micro area is expected to include Clarke, Kemper and Lauderdale counties.
In fact, the firm says, the Meridian micropolitan area is expected to be one of the largest created under new standards enacted by the Office of Management and Budget, which will release micropolitan area designations later this year.
Under the standards, urban areas meeting minimum population thresholds are to be classified under two categories: Metropolitan or Micropolitan. Counties are eligible to be classified as part of a micropolitan area if they include an urban area with at least 10,000 residents, but less than 50,000. That's Meridian.
Urban areas with more than 50,000 residents remain eligible for classification as a metropolitan area.
The consulting firm says the designation will create a much-needed extra layer of data for smaller urban areas in the United States. Site selection consultants and marketers have been seeking demographic and economic data for smaller urban markets for a number of years.
Out there on Old Eighth Street Road, I never knew I might one day live in an officially-designated micropolitan area. But the fact is that smaller communities have any number of very positive benefits.
If we can gain new visibility from relocating or expanding corporations by becoming a micropolitan area, then I say we should welcome the attention.