As a lifelong Idahoan, there are two things I know about living in this state: 1. It’s absolutely lovely here; and 2. you’re not supposed to let outsiders know that. (I have it on good authority that eastern Washington abides by the same philosophy.)
So what is the deal lately with everyone spreading the word about how awesome it is here? Take the case of my western Washington friends who were in town over the holidays. Throughout their visit, everywhere we went strangers in our community would not only engage my friends in pleasant conversation, but they actually encouraged them to move here. They talked with my friends about our abundant cultural events, about our annual family-friendly activities and about our rich culinary scene. They planted a seed with my friends, giving the impression they would be welcomed and happy here.
Then there’s the damning case of the physician from California, in town for professional reasons. Most sacrosanct of all is the edict to keep those darned Californians out. And yet when this doctor woke up to a few inches of snow – more than enough to scare off someone from the southern reaches of the Golden State – she barely had time to register panic before she spied a pair of strangers anonymously clearing the path to her obviously not local (on account of it not being a Subaru) vehicle.
These thoughtless ne’er-do-wells (well, technically they were thoughtful do-gooders) and their unsolicited act of kindness convinced the visiting doctor that this is the place for her, and now she’s looking to relocate.
Relocate. From California. To here. The very thing we’re trained from birth to discourage.Clearly this cannot continue. Can you imagine if word continues to get out about what a friendly, helpful community this is? One with opportunities and entertainment, with great medical care and education?
We’d be overrun in no time! Like moths to a flame, the worst that society has to offer (or at least not the best people) will converge and suck the life out of our little hamlet, pillaging it of all its resources and leaving nothing behind for those who were rightfully already here (by virtue of chance or prior migration which doesn’t count because we’re only talking about new-new people here).
I suppose it’s also possible that sharing the word about our amazing community and opening our arms to those who would love it here the way we love it here could instead result in our community being filled with people who feel welcomed and engaged. They might take that sense of belonging and turn it into meaningful contributions to the greater good. People might peacefully assemble with the purpose of improving an already great place to live. Problems might be solved, friendships made and everyone’s satisfaction with their quality of life enhanced.
It is possible that approaching growth (dare I call it immigration) as a positive situation with challenges to work through rather than a parasite problem to try to squash just might make everyone stronger in the end.
Either way, everyone legit needs to stop trying to talk my friends into moving here because, let’s be honest, some relationships benefit from a little distance.
Jade Stellmon set sail for a three-hour tour on the Palouse in 2001. She is now happily marooned in Moscow with her spouse and five children.