On Think Out Loud this morning, Dave Miller talked to writer Lisa Wells and photographer Bobby Abrahamson about their new project The 45th Parallel, a book and exhibit of photography and writing about four small, rural Oregon towns (Halfway, Fields, Mitchell, and Longcreek).

The most interesting aspect of the conversation, to me, was when it got into the uncomfortable territory of how cityfolk represent people from rural areas, a point raised by a few commenters on their site:

I'm from Richland, a smaller town 15 miles from Halfway, but now live in Portland. A visitor definitely sees all of these people and sights when they visit the valley, but the collection of photographs chosen serves to reinforce the perceived gap between the urban and the rural populations. There are differences, but in my experience there are far more people wearing clothes from REI and the Gap than the photographs would suggest. I know it's disappointing, but people have cars and the internet.

I spent last Thanksgiving at my sister's place in Halfway (formerly known as Half.com). Topics of conversation: Why there was a barrel of bloody pelts at the end of the road (fundraiser for veterans); the likely cause of death of the elk in the back yard (CSI: Halfway); whether someone should shoot another turkey for dinner (no); whether we could get good beer at the grocery store (yes). I also bought some soap shaped like a frog at the hippie art store. Those are my Halfway stories. As a city-person-type myself, I can understand why Wells and Abrahamson felt compelled to explore these areas for themselves. And to their credit, the pair were willing to engage on the questions raised in the comments without getting defensive—it's a conversation worth listening to when it's posted on Think Out Loud's site (soon, I assume), where you can also find a slide show of Abrahamson's photography, and judge for yourself if they're condescending or not. You can also check out an exhibit of their work currently hanging at Newspace.