Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Most of my life I have lived in large cities with a populations of over 200,000 + people. In large cities there are more amenities and multiple businesses to provide for your needs. The differences between small city versus large city living are different in many ways. Small cities lack the multitude of businesses to compete for your patronage and fewer entertainment opportunities. When you seek service in a large city you may have dozens of businesses to choose from but in a smaller city you may only have one or two . However that does not necessarily mean that the actual service performed is of less or inferior quality. We recently had a plumbing emergency and called John with Valley ROTO Rooter. His response time was immediate and his service was professional and friendly. He drove for over an hour to reach us, worked for two hours on the problem and his bill for service was very reasonable which preceded his one hour drive back home. That is very high quality service in a small city environment.
Examples of small city businesses and why they thrive with less population can be found in nearby Alamosa, Colorado, and is one of the many reasons we now prefer small cities to the larger cities. Alamosa, is what I consider a small city compared to those I have previously lived in. Carol was raised in a small village in New York State and I was raised in a large industrial city in the Midwest. I was unprepared for small city living when we moved to our present remote location but have since come to love it. In a big city you can achieve anonymity because of the large population. In a small city you would have to work hard to achieve that same anonymity. When we drive the 40 miles to town where we shop we generally frequent the same businesses repeatedly because there are no multi level shopping malls or numerous places to purchase our necessities. Because we frequent the same establishments over and over our encounters are more personal because we know those we do business with and they know us and our needs.
We are known by name in the establishments we frequent and are always met with a warm smile and friendly greeting. People take time to talk to us and we never feel rushed or hurried. I recall as I would go through check out lines in the large cities in which I have lived the clerks would say “have a nice day” to each customer while never looking up. That is not the case in small cities - at least in our small city. Whether it is from whom we purchase our dog food at All 4 Paws, which is a pet day care, grooming and premium pet food store, run by Mary and Robin or grocery shopping, it is always the same - a friendly greeting and warm reception. People know each other by name which makes us feel genuinely welcome. It is always a pleasure to go into All 4 Paws and see Mary or Robin as well as the numerous other businesses we frequent.
With three dogs it seems that we spend considerable time at the veterinarian clinic. Again we don’t have many to choose from but the one we do use, Alpine Veterinary Clinic, has outstanding vets and high quality professional treatment. Same friendly smiles and always greeted (along with our dogs) in a way that makes us all feel welcome. We have come to appreciate this way of life in our small western city. Small cities may lack the amenities that large cities have but we have relationships that are more difficult to establish in a larger city. Over the years that we have lived here our community has grown slightly but it still maintains its charm, hospitality and warmth. We don’t have traffic jams, or siren noise throughout the day or night, but instead we live a slower life style while we take time to enjoy each other more. It is a way of life that is hard to describe but one in which true values are seen and experienced. Business establishments appreciate their customers and we appreciate their providing us with valuable services. We both prosper because of these individual relationships and become good friends in the process.
We love the culture, people, friendliness and warmth of our community. Life in our community functions at a slower pace where people do not look away or look down when you encounter each other. It is where people take time to greet and talk to each other and are not always in a hurry to go somewhere or to something. It is a different way of life but one that truly fulfills and satisfies. A friend who was visiting from a large city was curious as to why no one was run down or bumped by a car when walking slowly across the Walmart parking lot to their car. She said in her large Nevada city that they would be run down or bumped out of the way. At the least they would be victim of a long horn blast. Life is just not that way here. It is a different way of living where people respect each other. The golden rule is alive and well here.
Living in a large city has many wonderful advantages but life in a small city is more intimate, friendly and warm. Both hold their advantages but having experienced living in this area for 15 years I clearly prefer the small city way of life, especially our slow paced friendly community.
For more on western hospitality and Bruce and Carol McElmurray go to: http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of Leland Dirks.