Friday, April 17, 2009

Homogenizing Missouri

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor, Ozarks Almanac

One of my favorite web forums is the Missouri Forum on city-data.com. In fact, I waste too much time there, reading and posting.

I'm usually about halfway ticked-off by the time I quit reading through the new posts about life in Missouri. Most of the folks who frequent Missouri Forum are non-Missourians who think they want to move to Missouri or they are fairly new residents who are trying to get more non-Missourians to move to Missouri.

Scattered in amongst them are: 1) former Missourians who think they might want to come back to Missouri sometime, 2.) people who moved to Missouri and found they didn't like it and now want to get out, 3.) people who moved here and plan on staying, but would like the place better if every small town had a huge shopping mall like the one they used to go to back when they lived in the city.

In other words, most of the people who post on Missouri Forum don't know what they're talking about. And the forum is moderated by a guy who lives in Indiana. Figure that out.

Then, there's a handful of people like me, lifelong Missourians who don't want to go anywhere else, who like Missouri the way it is and don't want it to be transformed by all the non-Missourians moving here. We try to set these city idiots, citiots, straight. I try to keep people from moving here without doing a load of research first. Others stress the need to visit several times at different seasons; they also urge people to rent for several months before committing to buying property. It doesn't help. They won't listen. After all, they're from the city, and that makes them so much more sophisticated and intelligent than us.

I've had to ask the Lord to forgive me for mocking and making fun of some of the non-Missourians who moan and wail because the town they chose to live in doesn't have opportunities for "serious shopping."

That seems to be what city folks like to do the most, "serious shopping." They're so stupid they can't figure out that a town like Rolla, population around 16,000, doesn't have enough people to sustain a Galleria or a Battlefield Mall.

Here's something else that city folks do: They come to small Missouri towns, looking for quaintness, for little home-town shops, lovely small-town festivals. Then, instead of spending their money to support local businesses, they head off to St. Louis or Springfield or Kansas City to shop, and they can't figure out why the small towns in which they live don't have more quaint businesses, why there are empty buildings downtown and why the city government can't fix all the potholes in the street (hint: the sales tax money is going to the big city where they shop).

The city folks on Missouri Forum get downright hostile with me, stressing that I should be thrilled that more people are moving to Missouri because it enriches the state with diversity.
Actually, it homogenizes the state, making it just like all the rest. They dilute the culture. In southern Missouri, our hillbilly twang has disappeared (well, not mine, but other people's), lots of people have forgotten the old ways of growing and preserving food, our Christian heritage is diminishing and what churches are left are worshipping in the ways of the mega-churches of California and Florida.

I think the influx of people from other states has not improved Missouri and Missourians at all.

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