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Thread: Such is small town living: AIB mike gurnee

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Such is small town living: AIB mike gurnee

    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee
    I had a phone conversation with a PhD candidate some time ago. I kept her on the line for several minutes longer than the interview, because I was starved for the intellectual discussion. Such is small town living
    Life in a small town is often portrayed as some sort of idyllic existence where Sheriff Andy Taylor and Norman Rockwell are neighbors. But like anywhere else, there are plusses and minuses associated with the lifestyle.

    What are those plusses and minuses? You don't often hear about the minuses, are they under-rated? Would you personally like to live in a small town? Lastly, what do you consider your population threshold for a 'small town'?
    Last edited by Maister; 30 Sep 2010 at 8:52 AM.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Great thread - I missed this in my answer on the random thread

    generally the answer is the good news is also the bad news..

    The good part of working in a small town is the balance of work and family - my kids are on a longer leash such that they can walk to my office or to their activities - most people and the police know them and keep an eye on them for me - I can buzz in and out of the office for pick up or whatever with the kids because everything is in a 6 block radius of each other

    the bad news is there are no lines between work and family, people will talk to my kids like they know them because they know me, I had a teacher of my daughter's not be nice to her because he hated the town, I have had people stand in front of me while I am watching my kids' game or performance asking me questions about the town -

    the good part is I have outreach access to residents easily - the weekly papers know me, I have lunch with the editors once a month at random, I can develop a mailing list for meetings pretty easily - people are just there, you don't have to go find them

    the bad part is the people are just there and you can't get away from them (thank god I have to travel as part of my job and get off this island)

    the good part is department heads coordinate better because we don't have kingdoms, the population isn't big enough for us to segregate ourselves into our own boxes - I coordinate with public works, public safety and the harbor better than any town I worked in before

    the bad part is we fight a lot, like stubborn spoiled siblings

    the good part is since we all know each other, we can deal with problems and issues face to face and it's not always a big deal

    the bad part is sometimes it borders on back door deal making
    Last edited by luckless pedestrian; 30 Sep 2010 at 8:52 AM. Reason: one more I forgot

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    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Good part: If you don't know what you are doing, someone else in town surely does.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I moved from a big city to a medium city now live in a small town (by my standards).

    Good things - 5 minute commute, hospital is close if necessary, traffic is never bad, inexpensive housing, cheap beer, close to bigger city for cultural events, lots of influence in the office, get to work in almost every aspect of the department which means I'm more well-rounded than others who have been pigeon-holed.

    Bad things - Not many sit-down restaurants, no quality shopping, hard to make friends with similar interests, many people are anti-regulations because they grew up "in the country", 4 hours from family, no kids yet but no private high school. In general the worst thing is many people seem to lack motivation to better themselves and talk trash about the community instead.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Probably one of the biggest differences in a small town (as compared with a larger community) is the numerous interconnections between people. Most individuals know each other in more than one way. Work, friends, family, church, school, kids activities, where you bank, where you shop, etc.. It is very common to have more than one way to relate or interact with someone, and would be rare that you only know someone else in the community in one way.

    For persons who like to keep their contacts separate from one another, this can be a big challenge. It is harder to keep co-workers separate from contacts through your kids after-school activities, etc.

    Also, it is a lot harder to be anonymous in a small town, because you are much more likely to run into someone you know, or who knows you or at least knows who you are. So, if you value the ability to disappear in a crowd, small towns may make you uncomfortable.

    The positives are, however, that this more complex relationships can be very meaningful, when compared with the often shallow relationships that are easier to form in a big city. If you value depth rather than width (fewer stronger relationships, rather than numerous shallower ones), small towns would be very attractive. Also, the ability to develop a more thorough understanding of a community. It is easier to connect with every part of the community, because it is of a manageable size. While there will always be surprizes, you'll have a better grasp of local happenings.
    JOE ILIFF
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    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    To the idea of the "threshhold" for a "small town". I don't think it's population so much as isolation. I live in one portion of the Salt Lake metro area and work in another. The total population of these places is pretty big (not by truly big city standards, but a couple million anyway).

    However, I identified with a lot of the things on luckless' list. Even the bigger towns around here have some of that small town stuff going on. I get accosted out in public at my work (there's only one of me) and when I'm at home (because I'm likely the only planner anybody knows). Needless to say they're never looking for you because they were so pleased with the landscaping at the new condos, you know?
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    and another thing -

    they call zoning a "taking" still but yet they will listen to me because they know me

    and yes, don't say anything negative about anyone to anyone else - it's their ex's best friend, their dog sitter, their cousin, their neighbor 20 year's ago, etc etc - but if you get one someone's good side, they will spread it to all their odd relations

    good and bad news travels fast

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    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    I live in one portion of the Salt Lake metro area and work in another.
    The neighborhood where I grew up was just like a small town because everyone was Irish Catholic. The same families have lived the the neighborhood for generations which made it very stable and houses rarely came on the market, meaning little population turnover. So while the whole region has 3 million people, the city has 500,000, the neighborhood that people never leave has only about 10,000. I'm sure many urban residential communities are like that.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I think if you have kids in school or are somehow involved in the schools, you quickly can become very involved in any community, be it an urban neighborhood, a suburb, or a small town. Depending on the size of the school or neighborhood, it can be no problem knowing everyone.

    When I was of school-age, my family moved to an exurb. The town where I went to school only had 3,000 people, while the sprawling community where I lived had about 5,000 people residing in the school district's boundaries. At the time, the town consisted of 1 elementary school and 1 middle-high school. Everyone really did know everyone and this became crystal clear if you were involved in the schools. By the time I graduated, only 9 years later, the population of the town grew to about 15,000 with an additional 15,000 in the sprawling area where I lived. I still felt like I knew most people in my graduating class and high school, but the sizes of the elementary school classes were mind-boggling that I felt that outside of high school, I didn't know everyone in town anymore. But now being out of school, I feel so out-of-touch with everything. The fact that everyone in my neighborhood seemed to move up to bigger houses in the area during the housing bubble of 2006-7 didn't help matters much.

    I figure the short time that my town could still be considered "small" was an enjoyable one and thought I had a great childhood. I like knowing everyone and I also liked being able to be one of the top dogs in the class (big fish in a small bowl, if you will). Also, the fact that amenities were always increasing as the town grew seemed to make things better, as well as the fact that we were still well within the reach of the 3rd largest metro in the U.S.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Everyone is all up in everyone else's business
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    Everyone is all up in everyone else's business
    I wouldn't trade anonymity for anything. My city of 200,000 feels small to me.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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