Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Relationship problems

Major businesses and industries can be the making of a city or town - but they can also be the breaking of them if they spiral into decline. This BBC article by Jenny Norton is much more than simply a gallery of ruin porn photos of Kadykchan. It explores how and why the remote Russian outpost went from being a relatively vibrant place to a completely abandoned ghost town in the space of little more than two decades, and what it has meant to those who made a life there.

Kadykchan's sorry story is compared and contrasted with that of Kirovsk, another Russian town a mere eight time zones away, which has faced similar problems but has clung on, still dependent on a single industrial giant but trying to diversify and find new and alternative sources of sustenance.

Both Kadykchan and Kirovsk might be in Russia, but, as Norton points out, monotowns can be found all over the world. Detroit is of course a glaring example, its overreliance on the car industry the cause of its rapid development and disastrous downfall, and you have to wonder what might happen in a place like Sunderland if Nissan were to choose to pull out as a result of Brexit. The manufacturer is continuing to invest for now, at least - but question marks remain over the long-term future of the factory that is a significant generator of local jobs, both directly and indirectly.

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