Small Town Mentality

It’s too soon to say that the drought has broken, but we’ve had three cloudy damp days in a row and yesterday, in the thriving megalopolis of Alamosa, Colorado, there was hail and a flood on the parking lot at City Market. I was there. My neighbor took me shopping at my favorite store. We made it into a scavenger hunt for the strangest objects. She said I won, but I think she did. She found a glow-in-the-dark alien egg. I just found cans of nuts packaged as breakfast food. It is kind of funny that there are nuts packaged as women’s health.

Stop that.

When we got home, she carried in my groceries and helped me put them away. I can’t lift, carry, or bend over so even though I CAN drive to the store, I can only buy one banana at a time…. At the moment, I’m wearing sweat pants I got for the hospital. My Aussie neighbor shortened them for me. In a little while, she’s taking me to my local doc to get my staples removed.

I’m sitting here in this beautiful town surrounded by kindness. It’s as if the divine powers said, “OK, Martha. You’ve gone into those classrooms and fought the good fight for more than 30 years. From now on, you get kindness. You get to be kind, you get to be treated kindly. You get to go where the news is things like the high school kids doing community service — cleaning weeds from various locations around town and walking dogs at the local shelter. In my town that gets two pages. The cemetery tells the town that with the water shortage, they’re going to have to figure out an alternative to lawn this year and they ask for suggestions and help. A group has organized to provide public transportation between some of the towns on my side of the San Luis Valley. It’s a pilot program, and they need two volunteer drivers.


And best of all….

A local group of developmentally disabled adults — SLV People First — has published its “first book” (they plan on more) entitled Important Things.Β A staff writer interviewed these people for the article, and while their answers are what you’d expect, the beauty is that their story is in the paper and the book is for sale. The underlying theme of the stories in the book is the determination of these people to live independently and to speak for themselves.

Not long ago a friend of a friend described narrow-minded people as people who have a “small town mentality.” My friend and I were both angered and amused by this. The small-town mentality I know is a bunch of people going out to a fairly remote farm where there is a child in a wheelchair and building a ramp to the front door for the family who lives there.

The stereotype of small town people has — as do all stereotypes — some basis in reality. It’s true that the people in my town are mostly politically and fiscally conservative, but the reason WHY is grounded in the reality that many “social programs” don’t need to be coordinated by a government agency. Some do, naturally, but as a community we depend on each other, our families and our churches — even I, with no family and no church, can rely on friends who can, equally, rely on me. I would be sad to think that the philosophy of love thy neighbor is only a small-town thing, something that has disappeared from the lives of people in big cities.

20 thoughts on “Small Town Mentality

  1. It’s wonderful that you’ve found a place where you feel like you “fit.” That’s so rare for all of us. Can you hear me cheering for you? It’s a long haul, but cheering carries on the winds!

  2. I’m so glad that you have landed in a small town at this point in your life when you have needs, but can also help those with different needs!

  3. What a wonderful place. A mutual aid society is brilliant! Even more that you have found your “home”. A place of caring, belonging, giving, sharing! How touching is that!

  4. It’s been raining for ten days in Florida too and curiosity made me attempt to locate Alamosa using map/directions from my home in Florida and receive the message, there is no known route. So I put in Fort Collins, Co since I have a friend who lives there and discovered the location near the Rio Grande, and New Mexico. Enjoyed you small town talk . . . . just saying, Claudia

    • That’s funny, no known route! There’s actually a 500 year old Spanish trading route from Florida to the San Luis Valley. And Alamosa has 10,000 people and an airport! My little town is just 4000 people and the river runs through it. πŸ™‚

  5. Great post, Martha. I love small towns. They have their quirks and characters, but that makes them interesting. People in the city seem to be more transitory, so it is hard, but not impossible, to build a strong community between strangers.

  6. It sounds like a wonderful community that you live in. I think community is about the people, not so much the size. I grew up in Scarborough, a part of Toronto. Not small town by any means. I grew up on a street where I would say there was a real sense of community. Every one watching out for everyone else. A good feeling. I like to hope that wasn’t just about the times and people being less afraid to come out of their houses and know their neighbours, or maybe it was because people had more time just being in the neighbourhood. My whole adult life I have lived in small towns, from population 200 to presently about 17, 000. Where I live now is a real sense of community, but some of the small towns I have lived in have not always had that generosity of spirit.

    • It’s really about the people. I’ve run up against some pretty nasty people here like everywhere else, but they’re not the people I choose to spend time. I’ve found that’s a real perk of being retired. I’m not stuck with mean people. πŸ™‚

  7. Beautifully said. But maybe some small towns have a better small town mentality than others. We used to live in a small town with a newspaper that reported things like ‘Pedestrian Assaulted by Baked Good.’ I’m not lying! I have the clipping about a woman who was hit by a muffin thrown from a car. I. LOVED. THAT. PAPER. I loved that town. When we moved in we were swamped with zucchini bread and cookies and notes of welcome. I miss it terribly. Where we are now, the town is so small that we don’t have our own paper and subscribe to the closest city paper where all I read about are heroin deaths, car crashes, and gang violence. Everyone congregates at the Walmart by the interstate and at the Cracker Barrel. There is a FAcebook group for our area with a thousand members but mostly they complain about the county, sell junk, and use it to bully others and push their conservative/judgmental views. There are pockets of good people but its taken me a long time to find them. I need to find a small town like yours.

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