The Culture of Small Towns


barnThis week’s blog post is about small towns. David N. and Evan M. have each lived in small towns and larger metropolises. Their accounts of small town living are eerily similar, though thousands of miles separated.

David

David lived in Morgantown, West Virginia to attend West Virginia University. The population in Morgantown fluctuates wildly throughout the year. There lives about 30,000 people full time in and around the city. During the school year, an influx of students brings an extra 28,000 people. The busiest days are the football game days, which can push the number up towards 100,000.

It is common to have free time, seeing as the closest city, Pittsburgh, is about an hour driving time away. Within Morgantown, people can use any of the usual entertainment venues like the bowling alley or ice skating rink. There is a movie theater and an apple orchard a small distance outside of town as well. The eager population thrives on special events, such as football games.  The sports culture is huge in Morgantown. Everyone participates in the festivities on game day.Already mentioned above, the games will bring in thousands of people from all over. The visitors are so great in number that the population doubles.

Culturally, the people have different interests than those found in a large metropolis. There are many hunting enthusiasts and survivalists. This is a great place for them because West Virginia is full of beautiful campgrounds within the forested mountains. It certainly lives up to it’s motto: “Wild and Wonderful.”

Interestingly, people treat each other with a heightened level of respect and have clear level of courteousness. People are friendly and have an an open disposition with others.

Evan

Evan experienced a similar ennui in Concordia Kansas. He only lived there for little over a year, but it was plenty of time to adjust to the culture and make lasting memories. The town has a population of about 5000 people. It is in the middle of tornado alley, so expansion is limited by the deep valley it resides within.

Evan lived on a farm about 10 miles outside the town center. There were cows, chickens, and long dirt roads surrounded by fields of crops. The geography was wildly different than West Virginia or Maryland. Despite the small size, there was always something to do.

The most common activities were to visit Walmart and the movie theater. The closest city is Salina, which is a 50 minute drive away. There is a mall and a few other establishments there, so people have the opportunity to find what they need if it can’t be found at Walmart. The schools have a very strong sports program. There is lacrosse, football, wrestling, dance, along with many other programs for the youth. These provided many activities for families to participate in on the weekends.  In the off time from practices, Evan recounts playing video games with his friends. He is more of an introvert, so the impacts from the sparse population fit with his personality. Some people were ‘itching’ to get out of Concordia to see what the world is like, but this is a common ideal in any city.

Evan describes the disposition of the people similarly to how David reports on those in Morgantown. They are open and friendly and are eager to start a conversation. In a town with this amount of people, it was easy to know nearly everyone. When you drive by people on the road, it is common for them to wave just for the sake of saying hi.

The observations by both David and Evan may not be the same for every small town area. Even so, I have experienced the same kind of ambiance in New Mexico and Ireland. People will stop and talk to you and will cheerfully involve others in their activities. Though pleasant, there is a culture shock at first if you aren’t accustomed to the down tempo life, but it is calming once you get settled in and know what to expect.

The hustle and bustle of a big city is greatly diminished. Cities like Bangkok or Jakarta are similar in feel to New York or Chicago. Each city has its own flavor, but t will taste similar depending on respective sizes.

Submitted by: Conan McEnroe

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