Monday, January 05, 2009- - -
Finally finished up the Big Job for the winter and I'm beginning to decompress. In a week or so we'll be in Terlingua, TX, where I hope to recapture my sanity. Such as that was.
Here's what brought me back to the blogosphere:
A few weeks back the Casper Star ran one of those sidebar polls asking people what they thought about the influx of out-of-staters coming in for the oil boom. The choices were something to the effect of a) We need economic development and hope these folks stay for the long-term; b) They should work here through the boom and then go home; and c) We don't want any outsiders coming into the state, period.
I was a bit shocked to see that nearly 50% of the respondents had chosen "c", but I think I can see where they're coming from. I don't want any part of Wyoming to become the next Colorado Front Range.
Now here's an interesting article published a week or so ago in the Casper Star that further explores people's sentiments. The comments on all sides of the issue are most interesting.
I'd guess the whole thing can be broken down into two camps defined by their sentiments toward Starbucks and whether they want one within easy walking distance of where they live. It's not so much where anyone's from, it's a matter of attitude toward people and open spaces. If you want to come here to "build a big ugly mansion and enjoy the scenery", while loudly telling the locals what's wrong with their town, then you're probably one of the unwelcome outsiders.
Ah well, it's an interesting conundrum. The growth and development are likely coming whether we like it or not, but how we deal with it could make a big difference. The towns of Rock Springs and Rawlins are a study in the contrast between those who've embraced growth and those who've shunned it. Rock Springs is booming, it's growing like a mushroom, with new businesses, homes, motels, and all sorts of new amenities. Then there's Rawlins, which.. Well, someone did build a new motel. Other than that it hasn't changed much in 25 years.
There are pros and cons to both though. I distinctly remember leaving Rock Springs in 1987 to attend the U of Wyo in Laramie. There were tumbleweeds blowing down the main streets and boards over the windows of nearly new buildings. You'd almost guess that the boom of the late '70s and early '80s had gone bust. We drove by Rawlins on the way to Laramie and it hadn't changed a bit. Yes, there were tumbleweeds blowing down the main streets and boards over the windows of many buildings, but that's what it was like during the boom too.
I suspect that in coming years -- barring a lot of external meddling -- we'll be able to have it both ways. There will be booming spots, places with scenery and big ugly mansions, and places that defy all change. There will be people who are happy where they're at, people who are unhappy and do something about it or move to someplace they like better, and those who are unhappy but don't do anything about it but gripe. Loudly.