Monday, June 4, 2012

Hitting Us Where We Live

Lately I've been thinking a lot about "place." I've lived in Knoxville, TN my entire life. And while there are undoubtedly worse places to be stuck in for 25 years, I'm increasingly wondering if there are better, too.

Because here, I feel dissatisfied.  It's not that there aren't progressive people doing great things. It's just that so often they seem... defensive. There's not much openness, trust, and impetus to growth; most progressives seem oriented towards survival and simply being open about voting for Obama alone is often a battle for them. And those who aren't get out when they can.

And I get that. People don't feel like they can challenge themselves because they're being challenged externally constantly. Many of you have probably heard about the laws coming out of our state. And unlike Memphis and Nashville, Knoxville votes conservatively every election, a complicit if not active player. It's often an uneasy, combative environment.

For a long time, though, I've assumed that everywhere has "its own problems" and that Knoxville's as good as anywhere else. But in graduate school, most of my peers are from elsewhere, and hearing about Portland OR, Seattle, and Southern California (for instance) has really started challenging those notions for me.

So my question to y'all is about you and your relationship to your geography: How do you feel about where you live now? Have you lived in different places before, and, if so, how did the change in environment affect you (if at all)? What kind of effect do you feel these place(s) have upon the people around you? And any other thoughts you have about the relationship between you and where you live.  

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