Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pollyanna takes on "place-bashing"

For some reason, this was saved as a draft post earlier this year.  Thought I'd go ahead and let it fly...

I recently read this post: What Kind of Life Do I Want to Live? from David at Simple.Organized.Life (it's a great blog) and felt compelled to pen a retort of sorts.  Of course, in the end, it was less retort than tirade, and less responsive than rhetorical.  Nonetheless, here it is in its entirety should you feel like reading or remarking...

There is an answer outside suburbia. Set aside the idea of identical tract houses sprawling outside an urban area, halfway between the country mouse and the city mouse.

It's easy to call something idyllic when you're living it, and it's simple to think you have it all figured out if you've reached a place of solace. With that in mind, however, I would submit a growing and commendable trend for your consideration - take it or leave it.

We bought a 1905 home in the historic downtown area of our community about five years ago. While the homes are hit and miss - astounding relics near hovels - the trend was clear. We were followed by a handful of other young professionals who were fleeing the traditional city. On the far side of our community, there is ample development - lifestyle centers, condos, upscale dining and enormous manses abound. The community we've found splits the difference between the country life and the city life. We can hand an egg or a glass of wine over a picket fence, tend organic gardens and sit on one another's front porches, or we can relish the solidarity of space and solitude. Granted, we're rather fortunate in that a ten mile drive in one direction places us squarely in remarkable forests or at the edge of a pristine undeveloped lake, and a ten mile drive in the opposite direction places us in the aforementioned walkable nouveau city scene.

Most remarkably, I suppose, is where we live - Arkansas. Having lived in South America, Jamaica, Pennsylvania, Washington state and France, I can honestly say that I don't have the perceived grave misfortune of being "forced" to live in midAmerica. And while much of the nation discounts places like this as uneducated, unsophisticated or underdeveloped, I know that actually, it's much of the world that lacks knowledge about Arkansas and so many other typically shunned states.

It's unfortunate that states take a beating and garner stereotyped reputations. We're all tempted to make fun of New Jersey, laugh about those barefoot folks in West Virginia or Arkansas or make fun of California as the land of fruits and nuts. We're doing ourselves such a disservice - the world is a fantastic place with small towns in the mountains, urban cities that negate the need for owning a vehicle, quirky diners, topnotch five star restaurants and everything in between, not to mention the farms and uninterrupted patches of land that hold it all together.

This is less a reply or rebuke and more a soapbox on the subject of "place-bashing" and the temptation to live one lifestyle and deem it the very best. 


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