Thursday, June 28, 2007

Would you rather live in Happy Valley or Fossil?

The U.S. Census Bureau released statistics today on which communities grew and which went down. It showed that Happy Valley, a suburb of Portland, Ore., was one of the fastest growing communities nationally with a 20 percent increase.

Rural areas in Eastern Oregon were among those that lost the most percentage wise. Places like Fossil, Ore. One can’t help but wonder if the name has something to do with what happens to population trends.

Let’s see, the average age of a citizen in Fossil is … ? Dare we ask?

Meanwhile, Happy Valley just sounds so darn happy. Cheerful. Welcoming. Forget the war, politics, inflation, West Nile Virus, the price of oil or whether Larry King should have painfully interviewed Paris Hilton for a whole hour.

Hide away in Happy Valley and become oblivious to all those things.

However, ask rural people where they want to live and probably most of them would prefer the quieter countryside than being part of a city suburb.

For anyone outside of the West who wonders what has happened to the Wild West, the census indicates that the West continues to get more populated. Phoenix, as of July 1, 2006, reached 1.5 million and beat Philadelphia to become the fifth largest city in the country.

Mind you, that still seems like wide open spaces compared to Los Angeles at second place with 3.8 million people or New York — the biggest city in the country — with 8.2 million people probably mostly fighting for taxis. At least they didn’t have to do it in sweltering temperatures of more than 100 degrees, compared to Phoenix last week.

Remind us all again: why do people want to live in these hot, crowded places compared to a nice, decent rural community where everyone knows your name, the color of your pickup truck and where to drop off your dog after he wanders down the road?

One of the interesting points made in the press release about the new numbers: “Only three of the top 10 from 1910 remained on the list in 2006: New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Conversely, three of the current top 10 cities (Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and San Diego) were not even among the 100 most populous in 1910, while three more (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio) had populations of less than 100,000.”

Next time you visit Texas, just remember the Alamo is getting a bit crowded.

California continues to grow, and it’s not all movie stars. “California had seven cities among the 25 fastest growing, leading all states.” Something to keep in mind as everyone wonders what will happen to precious water supplies and valuable farm land that is needed to support these growing populations.

Of course, it’s not just suburbs that are growing. The stats show that the usual vacation hotspots in the West — like Bend and Sisters in Oregon — have also continued to grow.

Perhaps it’s best if we remember that people don’t always move to seek great retirement communities in the desert, year-around vacation homes in the mountains or to seek fashion and excitement in a ritzy metropolis.

Sometimes circumstances have forced people with little warning to abandon their former homes.

It is not a great surprise that New Orleans has lost more than half the population it had before Hurricane Katrina. One can only guess where — or what — they now call home, and what should happen if another hurricane strikes in the next few months.

The people who lose their homes to disasters such as tornados, hurricanes or other natural disasters should perhaps be the first ones offered a chance to live in Happy Valley and start all over again.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Valley is really Stepford. It is full of phony people who work so hard on their outside that they forget they have an inside that could use some help. People here are more concerned with their home's square footage than how they make others feel. I would bet there are happier people in Fossil than in Happy Valley. It is unfortunate that the name is only a name.

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