Rural Future: An Alternative for Society Before 2050 AD

As global water shortages loom in 2030 and food shortages in 2050, author Robert Giles, Jr., Ph.D., presents an alternative: a system of over 150 small businesses, guided by GIS and prescriptive software based on the latest science, working together to manage rural lands profitably and to meet rising food and water needs. With Western Virginia as a first-focus case-study, Rural System is pitched as the dynamic, systems-solution to global problems in the long-term, with a planning horizon of 150 years.

Download the full manuscript as a PDF.

Rural Future book cover

Editor’s Introduction, Author’s Foreword, Preface, and Introduction

In the Editor’s Introduction, Laurel Sindewald introduces Rural System and its implications for future humans. The Foreword contains Dr. Giles’s rationale and motives for starting Rural System and writing Rural Future. In the Preface, Dr. Giles shares his hopes for what readers might gain from the book, and some actions they can take once they have read it. The Introduction lays out the beginning context: that a mass exodus has occurred from rural areas, and why it poses a problem to solve. In the Introduction, Dr. Giles also lays out his main assumptions, from which he began work on Rural System.

Download the Editor’s Introduction, Author’s Foreword, Preface, and Introduction as a PDF.

“A Rural County Tale” and Chapter 1 – Change: The Nature of Things

In “A Rural County Tale,” Dr. Giles tells a story about a small rural county despairing over their difficult economic situation. In the story, Rural System transforms the county into an enviable place to live, with economic stability. Chapter 1 introduces the “wicked problem,” or set of problems Rural System aims to solve, as well as a general introduction to what Rural System is and how it would work.

Download “A Rural County Tale” and Chapter 1 as a PDF.

“A Few Stories” and Chapter 2 – The Objectives and Approach of Rural System

With “A Few Stories,” Dr. Giles briefly imagines three different case studies of properties under Rural System management. Chapter 2 details Rural System’s objectives, modern general systems approach, and organizational structure.

Download “A Few Stories” and Chapter 2 as a PDF.

General System by Bob Giles

A diagram of a modern general system, with modifications by Robert Giles, Jr., Ph.D., founder of Rural System and author of Rural Future.

“What is it Really?” and Chapter 3 – Human Food from the Restored Land

Rural System is a very large concept, and often difficult to condense into short explanations or descriptions. “What is it Really?” attempts the shortest description yet. Chapter 3 is all about how Rural System will improve food stability with precision agriculture and a variety of food-related Groups, including The Bees Group and The Good Gardens Group.

Download “What is it Really?” and Chapter 3 as a PDF.

“A Beaver Tale” and Chapter 4 – Rural System’s Computer-Aided, Precision Management

“A Beaver Tale” is all about rural decision-making, which is often more complex and involves more small judgment calls than most would think. Dr. Giles tells a short story of two land managers who come across a fallen tree due to beaver damage, and the many decisions they encounter. Chapter 4 introduces VNodal, the software “brain” of Rural System that would make precise prescriptions for management actions based on GIS spatial data. Chapter 4 also covers Cumulative Automation of Transition (CAT) software, wherein production curves are added, evaluated, and adjusted to stabilize profits within pre-determined bounds.

Download “A Beaver Tale” and Chapter 4 as a PDF.

“Feedforward: Prediction and Now-Action” and Chapter 5 – How Do I Know Rural System is “Right,” or the Best Option?

The concept of feedforward, introduced briefly in Chapter 2, is emphasized in “Feedforward: Prediction and Now-Action,” distinguishing it from futurism or future-telling. In Chapter 5, Dr. Giles covers basic epistemological concepts, which not only lay the foundation for his “rationally robust” strategy (covered in Chapter 6), but are provided to help the reader evaluate his or her own process of knowing. Chapter 5 also begins to describe some of Rural System’s novel epistemological approaches.

Download “Feedforward: Prediction and Now-Action” and Chapter 5 as a PDF.

“Rural System’s Time” and Chapter 6 – Rationally Robust Work

“Rural System’s Time” is a short piece exploring the role of time in diverse planning horizons, and the importance of using alternative temporal measurements in scientific research. In Chapter 6, Dr. Giles writes extensively on Rural System’s departure from strict, traditional science. Rationally robust work includes a number of changes to scientific standards, including acceptance of 80% certainty (p < 0.20) rather than 95% certainty (p < 0.05), and a systems approach with feedback consistently correcting software models with new data (rather than discrete research attempts).

Download “Rural System’s Time” and Chapter 6 as a PDF.

“The Football Analogy” and Chapter 7 – Abiotics: Control or Response?

“The Football Analogy” is a short story from Rural System’s origins, when Dr. Giles realized that football, as an industry, is analogous to Rural System. The industry makes profits off of a diversity of enterprises (gear and souvenirs, tickets, refreshments, etc.), as does Rural System. Chapter 7 explores and highlights abiotic influences in ecosystems under Rural System management, and describes Rural System’s unique approach to watershed management and wild fisheries.

Download “The Football Analogy” and Chapter 7 as a PDF.

“Lunar Forces” and Chapter 8 – Forests: Trees and Things

Dr. Giles has explored extensive literature relating to various influences of the Moon on ecosystems, as an abiotic force frequently unaccounted for. In “Lunar Forces,” he introduces a few lunar forces that, he asserts, should be included in system models. In Chapter 8, Dr. Giles writes at length of forest management and enterprises, which are expected to be the principal sources of profit in Western Virginia (a highly forested region). Chapter 8 also includes a section on the Rural Environment Health Index, mentioned in the Rural System objectives.

Download “Lunar Forces” and Chapter 8 as a PDF.

“Troll: A Story About the Whole Thing” and Chapter 9 – Rural System’s Ranging

“Troll: A Story About the Whole Thing” is a short story in which Dr. Giles takes the reader on a tour through an imagined Rural System property, to paint a visual of what an active property would be like. In Chapter 9, Dr. Giles introduces the concept of “ranging”: a new concept for all rural recreation and tourism, with a property managed for many recreational opportunities together.

Download “Troll: A Story About the Whole Thing” and Chapter 9 as a PDF.

“The Reach Group” and Chapter 10 – Tourism Groups in Rural System

In “The Reach Group,” Dr. Giles introduces his plan for Rural System to improve the economy, education, infrastructure, and health care for rural communities, to be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 11. Chapter 10 covers Rural System’s plan for a diverse tourism industry to bolster regional economies, with Groups providing transportation and guided tours, memberships for nature lovers, and one Group developing a new sport called BirdGolf for competitive bird-watchers.

Download “The Reach Group” and Chapter 10 as a PDF.

“From Another Angle” and Chapter 11 – A Plan for the Integrated Health of Land and People

In “From Another Angle,” Dr. Giles tries in a different way to describe generally how Rural System would operate, and provides examples of a few Groups and how they would work together. Beginning with issues at the rural-urban border, Chapter 11 explores in-depth the plan for providing superior education, health care information and services, addiction treatment, and jobs training for people in the rural communities neighboring lands under Rural System management. The core message of Chapter 11 is that, with cooperative work, landowners and rural residents will be able to achieve higher quality of life, including improved health and wellbeing. Rural System plans strategies that will lead to improved health of the land and people together, without needing to compromise one for the other.

Download “From Another Angle” and Chapter 11 as a PDF.

“A Trip to Granddad’s” and Chapter 12 – The Rural Deal

Another short story, “A Trip to Granddad’s” provides another short stroll through an imagined property under active Rural System management. In Chapter 12, Dr. Giles lays out the financial realities for launching Rural System, as well as anticipated gains through specific profitability processes and waste reduction. Chapter 12 includes information about how Rural System would increase property values for landowners, and further information about how Rural System would stabilize profits within pre-specified bounds.

Download “A Trip to Granddad’s” and Chapter 12 as a PDF.

“A New Farm Story” and Chapter 13 – You and the Environment of Tomorrow

“A New Farm Story” provides a more in-depth tour of what happens for an imagined landowner once he contacts Rural System – how the system works. In Chapter 13, the final chapter, Dr. Giles addresses the reader personally, speaking honestly about the two main challenges we all face: water shortages in 2030 and food shortages in 2050. He provides lists of possibilities for how the reader can become involved in Rural System, as well as smaller actions he or she can take to begin to meet the coming global challenges.

Download “A New Farm Story” and Chapter 13 as a PDF.

Appendices 1, 2, and 3

Appendix 1 lists all of the planned Groups of Rural System, with brief descriptions for each Group. Appendix 2 introduces Rural System’s premises and promises, listing the guiding design principles of the system. Appendix 3, Decent Work, shares Rural System’s ethical positions and guiding moral principles.

Download Appendix 1, Appendix 2, and Appendix 3 as a PDF.