Sunday, September 07, 2008

Small town values

Hello again from Bug Hill. It's been a long time since I posted (not quite 6 months, though, so it could be worse, right?). I have no excuses - I miss a few weeks because of too much going on, a little bit of the blues, etc and then each day it's just harder and harder to come back.

Bug Hill is a small town. And I mean a small town - smaller than Wasilla (which is not, in fact, the 2nd largest city in Alaska - what the heck is Karl Rove smoking?). I've lived in many small towns, some that are fairly liberal (or at least less conservative) and some that are really conservative. So imagine my surprise when the RNC was all about "small town values". How do you define small town values? Well, it seems that most people at the convention weren't able to define it, either. But people have been asking me and once I got over my knee jerk reaction of "bigotry", I decided to put some thought into it.

I finally decided that small town values can be summed up in one phrase - "We've never done it that way before". As I said, I've lived in many small towns and some have been more "home" than others. I no longer fit in in my "home town", but Bug Hill works for me, and here's why - in my home town, I am different from everyone there - I don't go to the Catholic or Baptist church (or any church for that matter); I believe that Christ truly wants us to: "do for the least of these", "turn the other cheek" and "be peacemakers"; I believe that "love is of God" and I don't care who a person loves, etc. In short, I'm a liberal. Now, it isn't that the people I grew up with don't believe these things, it's just that they've never lived those beliefs and "We've never done it that way before".

Small towns are incredibly resistant to change. They can change, but they have to be dragged into change kicking and screaming. Change scares them. I have a part of this in me - I found out this week that my office will be switching to Macs in the near future and I'm terrified, I don't deal well with change, I dropped yahoo because they had too many changes, I'm freaking out because my work computer uses IE 7 and I HATE it - so I understand the physical reaction to change. It's visceral. It's often overwhelming. Change is never seen as good - things are working fine now, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Now, small town people know that things don't work well for everyone but they feel those people should either change to fit in or move out. It's why you'll see very few mixed race couples and gay and lesbian couples in most of the small towns in the US (not all the small towns, just most).

Back to Bug Hill - school is back in session. The town council decided to try a pilot program - the elementary school zone is now a cell phone free zone. You can talk on a hands free phone, but no hand held or texting is allowed while driving. If you are caught, you will be fined $200. Parents can still park and call their kids, it's just while driving. Now for me, I'll just avoid the school zone (like I didn't already as much as possible). I do drive while talking on my phone - usually for directions or to find out where I need to be. I've tried handsfree devices and they don't work for me - they won't stay on/in my ear and I end up trying to feel around for the earpiece - which is not safe - while yelling "hold on, the stupid thing fell again, don't hang up".

Also at Bug Hill, we're trying a new idea of having a parade every month possible. We just had our labor day parade - that was a lot of fun. In October we'll have a "Fall Carnival" carnival and costume parade, November will be a Thanksgiving parade and December will be a "Winter Carnival" parade. The town council has asked for a permanent volunteer to coordinate the parades - there will be no pay for this, but it is hoped you'll have lots of fun. So if anyone wants to volunteer, they should call the city manager and let her know.

Finally, I've been asked to request that people donate any extra school supplies they can. There are still quite a few students who don't have all the supplies they need. Remember, with the cost of gas, electricity, and food rising, many of our people are finding that they just can't stretch a dollar as well as they need to. We'd also like to ask that you donate any extra clothing you have to the clothing bank, all clothes - even stained and torn. The plan is that volunteers will sort the clothing by condition - pristine, good, okay, and needs work. Then there will be work days to work on the clothing that needs work - ideas are still being formed but currently the plan is to dye clothing that is stained, sew patches, use clothing that is past mending to "frankenstein" into something new, etc. The local 4H and FHA chapters have volunteered to remake clothing as possible - this will be a new skill for them and the teachers are very excited.

1 comment:

Tanya Brown said...

It's good to "see" you! I'd been concerned.