Virginia: Changing Topographies

This series is based on the expanding development in the rural districts in Prince William, Fauquier, and Loudoun Counties in Virginia. These photos highlight areas being developed, and they feature land people hope will never be developed.

Urban development has been expanding in Northern Virginia for many years. Since the 2010 Census, the populations of Fauquier County, Prince William County, and Loudoun Counties have grown 7.6%, 15.2%, and 30%, respectively (Weldon Cooper Center). Loudoun County, for instance, has been deemed “a test tube” for dealing with “hypergrowth” due to numerous high-tech and government jobs (Davenport). Such expansion, unsurprisingly, has met resistance. For instance, in Prince William County, the organization “Save the Rural Crescent” formed to stop urban sprawl in agricultural zones (Rural Crescent Coalition).

Environmental activist Wendell Berry stated: “There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people” (Berry and Shoemaker 2019). As it stands now in Northern Virginia, developers are winning and farmers and rural life are losing.

Works Cited

Wendell, Berry and Jack Shoemaker. Wendell Berry: essays, 1993-2017. New York: The Library of America. 2019.

Davenport, Coral. In a fast-growing county, sprawl teaches hard lessons. The Christian Science Monitor: January 23, 2006. Online:

Rural Crescent Coalition. 2019. History: Planning for the Rural Crescent. Online:

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Virginia Population Estimates. 2018. Online:

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