I’ve always had a sense of pride about being from Colorado, especially when I get to say I’m from the mountains of Colorado. I was blessed to grow up in the majestic Rocky Mountains, in a small town that is usually remembered for its football field. I got to experience the good and the bad of growing up in that small town too. Like any small town there were run ins between the cops and teenagers, he said – she said drama, and everyone knowing everything you did. Those are the bad experiences. There were great things too. Such as playing football on that field, making life long friends, the town/county coming together when it needed to, and people always willing to help others.
Like most small towns, it didn’t change much over the years….initially. You could come home and have a cup of coffee in the same family owned diner to watch the OJ judgement as you did the night of your Senior homecoming. For that matter, you could have sat at the same table. That’s how small town we were. It wasn’t uncommon to see the local kids dressed up for a dance while the county cops ate dinner 6 feet away. When a State Patrol officer was shot and killed by teenager from the city, the county rallied together. When a local high school student was mauled by a mountain lion, the county came together. And like most teenagers, I wanted out of there for the promise of non stop city life.
Can’t go home again
20 plus years later, I find myself wanting to move back to that small town again. Hell, I only live an hour away now. I miss the people, I miss the slower pace of life, I miss the quiet, and I miss the mountains. Sure there would still be the small town drawbacks and drama, but I’m old and wise enough to not get involved. I could care less what people think of me. It’s my life and I’m happy with the way it is, or more accurately with how I choose to live it. My values are mine and have been shaped by my experiences, as well as the foundation I got growing up. Oh how I would I love to go back….
But I can’t. None of us can really. We can’t ever go back to that place in time. That still isn’t what’s stopping me from moving back to my childhood home though. The town(s) and county are still there in a sense. Most of the people and old families are gone though. Most of the family businesses are gone too. I suppose that’s the cost of being gone for so long too. Everything changes. Still, this isn’t the normal change one would expect after being gone so long. No this change is much different and it has it’s own name.
The Urban Dictionary defines gentrification as
When “urban renewal” of lower class neighborhoods with condos attracts yuppie tenants, driving up rents and driving out long time, lower income residents. It often begins with influxes of local artists looking for a cheap place to live, giving the neighborhood a bohemian flair. This hip reputation attracts yuppies who want to live in such an atmosphere, driving out the lower income artists and lower income residents, often ethnic/racial minorities, changing the social character of the neighborhood.
Probably not the best source to use to define a term, but it helps make my point. The town I lived in and the town I went to school is in, has been gentrified. For that matter, the Front Range has been gentrified it seems. I’ve posted about the cost of housing and the number of crappy drivers before. Costs go up, infrastructure gets stretched, and the next shoe to drop is going to be the availability of water but that’s another topic.
I’ve come across people who have lived here their whole lives (ya know, Colorado Natives) as well as those who have lived here for decades (who are almost natives). The conversation always comes around to the changes to the Front Range and to the State. For some reason, people move here to experience Colorado but then want to change to be like the place they are from. One would think, if you move to a location because you like it better you would assimilate to that place instead of trying to change it. One would think, and so do some others.
Then the conversation turns
When long time Colorado residents start talking about the changes, it seems the next topic of discussion is how they are thinking, or making plans, to leave the state. Oh I know, no one cares that the state is changing or that people leave except for the people who are upset by it. That’s the thing though, you have to wonder how much has a place changed for people to want to leave their homes. The very fabric of their core has been affected. That’s where we are that these days.
Seems like one in three people I talk to are tired of the influx of people, the mega growth, and the changes to values. They are talking about leaving, moving to another area of the country, midwest/west that better aligns with their lifestyle. In short, it would appear that Colorado natives are becoming Colorado refugees. Does this mean I’m going to leave the state I love and grew up in? Probably, how soon? Well I guess that’s going to depend on how things work out. Where am I going to go? I promise you this, I’ll end up some where with similar values that I had growing up and it will definitely have trees.