The McFarthest Place” documents the social, economic, and political mindset of the disappearing rural Midwest through one county in South Dakota, near the spot of what was recently the farthest place in the continental U.S. from the most ubiquitous American institution, McDonald’s.
Featuring: Mark Kauzlarich
United Photo Industries
James Estrin and David Gonzalez, Co-Editors of the New York Times Lens Blog
“The McFarthest Place” documents the social, economic, and political mindset of the disappearing rural Midwest through one county in South Dakota. In Perkins County, SD, recently the farthest point in the continental United States from a McDonald’s, a comical metric belies issues of the American divide. People aren’t just 145 miles from McDonald’s but from medical specialists, mental healthcare, affordable groceries, higher education, and jobs. These issues, combined with the consolidation of wealth and opportunity in cities, drive population loss in rural America – 73.7% in Perkins County in 110 years – threatening the community-oriented nature of rural society where people increasingly rely on each other, absent traditional infrastructure. And despite the continuing importance of rural resources to the sustainability of the U.S., people here feel the burden of a national disinterest in the economic sustainability of rural communities as their lives are often reduced to jokes and caricatures, fostering fear, cultural, and political isolation. Even with U.S. economic intervention, incentives, and subsidies, the net median income for a farm or ranch in 2017 was a $1300 loss. These hardships weigh on rural communities, influencing farmer suicide rates that outpace those of returning veterans.
Originally from Wisconsin, Mark Kauzlarich is a New York City-based documentary photographer. His recent work focuses on isolation and marginalization in the United States, with special interest in the rural Midwest. In 2018 he was a winner of Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward. He holds a Master’s of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri and dual Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the University of Wisconsin. His clients include The New York Times, TIME, CNN, Reuters, The Weather Channel, The Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, The Huffington Post, and others. His work has been featured three times by TIME’s Lightbox and once by The New York Times’ Lens Blog. In 2015, Mark interned at The New York Times. Prior to his internship, while attending graduate school, Mark freelanced frequently for The New York Times and Reuters covering the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and its aftermath.