Saturday, July 15, 2017

Community - Part One

A friend recently posted (ok, several months ago) on Facebook a tribute of sorts that has been rolling around in my head and occasionally out of my mouth to AB. Her tribute to the wonderful community we reside in. How loved she feels by the community, what a great place to raise her kids, how much there is to offer here, etc. 

I am so so so happy she has this. But I can't help wondering where she lives? It can't possibly be just a few miles from me, can it?  I live in a different place. When I read her post, my eyes immediately jumped up to the header to make sure it was that person posting and not someone in some far distant realm - was this really about MY community? Someone thinks my community rocks? What the? I am obviously missing something. 

It's no secret on this blog that AB and I don't have a fondness for this region and we agree that it probably stems from both of us, separately, growing up in what we remember as really wonderful and special spots. I think about it and wonder what my kids will take away from growing up here? Maybe some of the same as I had as a kid growing up... 

So that I can get this out of the way first, I am going to list the positives I see with living here. Then we will move on to my complaints: 

  • We can escape to nature, to the mountains, easily. 
  • We have the cabin on the Sound that we spend time at every summer and the kids LOVE that. 
  • Access to a couple big cities (Seattle and Portland) and a smaller one (Spokane)
  • Growing up with great farmer's markets (wonder if my kids see that as a bonus? I certainly do.) I didn't have produce when I was a kid. It was red "delicious" apples (it's no wonder I despised apples growing up), bananas, and navel oranges.
  • Schools closing for a few inches of snow. Lots of snow days in 2017!
  • Going out in the trailer - playing games in the trailer, campfires, snuggling on the tiny couch to watch movies. 
  • Skiing at local ski resorts - ok, it's not the champagne powder I grew up on. But I have learned to adjust as a skier. 
  • Going to Canada and exploring hot springs as a family. Experiencing newness and exploring as a family.
  • The ability to travel. (This is a big one, having good jobs enables us to do big vacations.)
  • The play house and zipline in the backyard, dad building things in the yard and them helping. 
  • Schools and teachers really are pretty dang good. I have a few issues with the school district and specific instances with teachers, but they are one offs - we have some truly fabulous educators and a community that is always willing to invest in education. I have lived places where the opposite is true.
It's awesome, right? I am giving my kids a great childhood. I mean really, what is my problem? 

When I was a kid I was always going to return to the places I lived. I had no intention of living elsewhere. (I do now, you couldn't force me back to live in Colorado or Wyoming.) But my kids? Leif plans to live in Seattle (or any big city), and Skadi intends to move to Alaska or Canada. Neither of my older two want to live here as adults. And further, they both ask to move on a reasonably regular basis. Skadi asks why we can't go live in Alaska with the rest of AB's family and Leif thinks I should seriously pursue that offer from my place of employment to place me offsite in Florida, or any one of the other reasonable offsite positions available. 

Now my list of complaints: 
  • My neighborhood. I hate my neighborhood. Friends in other neighborhoods have neighborly type interactions and forge awesome relationships. I get to deal with complaints to the city on us from our "neighbors" several times a year. One of the reasons we chose this neighborhood was because there was no HOA. We could park our trailer/boats/RVs on our property within city guidance (no we don't have all those). No annoying oversight. Wrong. Because of our "neighbors" the city is spending significant efforts (time and money) issuing me (and I think others) notices of violation that aren't really a big deal or actually within violation. Example, our trailer is parked on our property. When we put our RV pad in we confirmed location and compliance with the city. I have a letter from the city indicating we are in compliance. But that doesn't stop neighbors from calling the city, complaining, the City issuing a violation (sight unseen), me having to call the city, send them photos of the location (because they cannot set foot on our property to measure), remind them this is an ongoing issue with a cranky neighbor, and the city to use time and resources to (once again) clear the complaint. It isn't just the trailer. It's the foliage - if one of my trees dangles a branch on the sidewalk, the city is notified. If my dog is in the front yard off leash, the city is notified. The city, the animal control, others have come to know me and many apologize when I phone or they show up at my door. Moving has become a serious thought from us - but we always said if we move it won't be within this region. It will be to leave here. 
  • The City Council is a joke - they ask the community to vote on issues, but do whatever they want in the end. Why waste my time requesting input? The city's lack of responsiveness to observed issues and how they deal with issues (see above). But wait... I thought you said they were overbearing, right? Yes, I did above. They don't properly respond, they don't tell the "neighbors" to stop filing dumb ass complaints. But they also don't listen to the real issues. Like speeding through our neighborhoods. Like the ridiculous traffic situations that SHOULD NOT BE for a town this size. 
  • The region is ugly. I am sorry, I don't find desert beautiful. Actually, that's not true, I actually like New Mexico, but that's real desert, not this cheet grass infected vast nothingness area. And our local "mountain"? HA! (I know, this is dumb, the "community" has nothing to do with this.) Ok, sunsets can be amazing here. That's it. 
  • Lack of family nearby. (Not a fault of the region, but people don't even really want to come see us.)
  • Nature at its best is hours away. Negative aspect - HOURS. 
  • Chains, chains, and more chains. Chain restaurants. WTF. And we don't even get good chains at that.
  • The road system. Seriously, we are a small city and our roads are disasters. (See above again - a city thing).
  • Lack of quality physicians (though we do have access to Seattle and Spokane)
Ok, it isn't all negative. There are some good items for us, but sometimes it feels as though the days when the good doesn't always outweigh the bad are on the rise. What keeps us here then? 

  • Good jobs and happiness in my job
  • Job satisfaction. I am at a place right now where I LOVE my job. Things are going really well and I have the flexibility our family needs.
  • Good school system - see above. 
  • Continuous community investment in schools (though schoools aren't yet fully funded as they are supposed to be)
  • Cost of living is reasonable
I have lived in this region longer than I have lived anywhere in my life. I can honestly say that I don't have a physical place that I call home. I call my family and my house, home. First and foremost, my family is home, wherever they are is home. But AB will always call Alaska home. Washington will never be his true home. This connection to somewhere is something I am kind of jealous of. 

I wonder if it is my own head that refuses to wrap around this city as my home? Or a love of this community? AB and I are presently not huge community involved sorts at this point in our lives. A lot of the reason for that is that we are really, really busy. Work and running everyone everywhere keeps me crazy busy. There are things I would love to do, but I have no time. You may note that this is Part One - I have a Part Two rolling around in my head, nearly ready to go on record. But not just quite yet... 

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