Living In A “Secondary City”

I ran across this article from the Washington Post about how people who live in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are looking to relocate to “secondary cities.”  One of the “secondary cities” that these people are looking at is Columbus, Ohio; others on the list include Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon.

207_german-1564_std-700x469You see, according to the article coastal big city dwellers are discovering, to their apparent astonishment, that you can actually live a pretty nice life in places like Columbus.  Hey — decent housing is actually affordable in Columbus and other “secondary cities”!  And you know what?  There are things to do in Columbus, too!  There are good jobs here!  There are actually some pretty decent restaurants in Columbus, and craft breweries, and parks, and cool neighborhoods, too!  And here’s the biggest surprise of all:  the people who live here aren’t like the filthy toothless hillbillies prowling the woods in Deliverance, either!

It seems like every few months there’s a news article in the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times, or one of the other big city newspapers about how places like Columbus and Nashville and Austin are unknown gems that New Yorkers and Angelenos are just starting to discover and appreciate.  We put up with the articles, but I have to object to the phrase “secondary city.”  Sure, it’s nicely alliterative, but of course it’s dismissive in that mildly sneering east coast/west coast way.

“Secondary cities”?  Secondary to what?  Cities where you have to fight through gridlocked traffic every day?  Cities where you have to pay thousands of dollars every month for an apartment the size of a broom closet?  Cities where legions of homeless people are camping out on city streets and flea-borne typhus outbreaks are occurring?  Cities where crime and murder rates are serious problems?  Cities where taxes are crushingly high?  Cities where the other residents have an arrogant attitude that resonates through everything they do?

No, I don’t think places like Columbus or Indianapolis or Nashville are “secondary cities.”  We’re right up there at the top in terms of economic growth, standard of living, and quality of life.  If people from the coasts haven’t realized that by now, that’s their problem — not ours.  And if they want to move to Columbus they’ll of course be welcomed, because that’s the kind of friendly, open place we are.  But please: leave the “secondary cities” ‘tude behind, will you?

Back To The Midwest

Russell will be leaving Brooklyn and the New York City area in the few days; he’ll be heading to the Detroit area to begin the Master’s program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

DSC02096Moving from the East Coast to the Midwest can be an adjustment.  Kish and I had the same experience years ago, when we moved from Washington, D.C. to Columbus.  On the East Coast, you travel by subway and walk a lot.  In the Midwest, it’s a car culture.  On the East Coast, you tend not to make eye contact with people on the street.  In the Midwest, you’re likely to get a friendly greeting and a cheerful hello from a complete stranger you pass in the street.  On the East Coast, the tempo is rapid.  In the Midwest, the pace is slower.  The cultural and social differences are many, and frequently you don’t fully appreciate them until you’ve moved and you’ve noticed the abrupt change.

Even when you were born and raised in one area, you adopt the rhythms and mores of your new home.  Russell’s lived on the East Coast now for six years.  We’ll be looking forward to welcoming him back to his roots and getting him back into that Midwest state of mind.

Buy American?

I heard this piece on NPR — www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102728244 — recently and it made me laugh. The point of the story was interesting; it noted that many of the people involved in supervising and monitoring the actions of GM and Chrysler drive cars built by foreign-owned companies, and as a result there is an element of hypocrisy when those individuals, and the Administration and Congress generally, urge everybody else to “Buy American.”

(Of course, “Buy American” itself is a bogus concept for two reasons. First, free people should buy the goods that they think are best for them, regardless of the ultimate ownership of the company that manufactures those goods. “Buy American” is the battle cry of a company that does not sell competitive products. Second, how do you determine what is an “American” company? Many companies that began overseas have significant plants and investments in America. Honda of America Mfg., Inc., which has plants in Marysville, East Liberty, and Anna, Ohio, is a local example of this reality. Those Honda plants employ thousands of people, purchase component parts from other companies with plants in America, and build excellent cars, engines, and other products. Given those facts, why should I feel compelled to buy an ugly, gas-guzzling Chrysler sedan when I can buy a well-made, less expensive Acura that gets great gas mileage?)

The moment that really made this piece memorable, however, came as the story noted that people who live in the midsection of the country are much more likely to buy cars manufactured by Ford, Chrysler, and GM than are those who live on the coasts. The piece then speculated that this discrepancy might be due to differences in “education.” What a great example of the condescension that many East Coasters feel for those of us in the Midwest! We’re just a bunch of ignorant hayseeds out here in the heartland, ready to be gulled by any ad campaign! I was glad to see that some of the internet comments to this piece pointed out this little example of East Coast bias.