Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Middle of Somewhere

matthewsoxhamptonatpublicschool deerinthepasture

Good Morning!

North Dakota has been in the national news lately with a feature story about people relocating to our region for jobs. The state has one of the healthiest economies in the nation, and good jobs can be located via North Dakota Job Service.

The majority of the newcomers head for Bismarck, Fargo & Grand Forks, our three largest cities. But, some choose rural areas. They joke that they are moving to "the middle of nowhere". I'm certain that it does feel that way, when they first arrive.

I'm not naive enough to think that everyone will love to live here. Our climate can be pretty miserable, especially in the dead of winter. Conveniences like all-night grocery stores or "big box discounters" are only found in a handful of North Dakota cities. Entertainment is not always easy to find in our little towns. For us, the closest shopping mall, Walmart, McDonald's, and Apple bee's are seventy miles away, and we're lucky if we get there once a month.

But, we try to focus on what we do have, rather than what we don't.
If they open their minds to the possibilities, and give us a chance, newcomers will find:

  • Hard-working, friendly people, willing to do just about anything to help a family in need.
  • Hard-working, friendly, small business owners, who go out of their way to help each customer. The'll often order specialty items, as long as you don't mind waiting for the "next shipment." I happen to know of a pretty nice quilt shop that fits this description :)
  • A strong school system with devoted teachers and administrators. Matthew starts school on Tuesday, but on Friday we went to the "First Grade Open House". The top photo shows him with Sox & Hampton, perched on the "Public School" sign outside the main entrance. He was so excited, he could hardly sit still for the picture. He would have taken his furry friends inside to visit the classroom, but reluctantly respected the "No Dogs in School" rule.
  • Tasty food at family owned restaurants.
  • Excellent health care (although driving distance can be lengthy, depending upon where you live).
  • Clean, safe, close-knit communities, that are great places to raise a family. Every town has a yearly celebration of some sort, such as this weekend's "Tractor Fest" in Mott. The Mott quilters arranged a lovely demonstration of their work, and borrowed our bags & pincushions for a special display.
  • A strong emphasis on athletics. Expect the "whole town" to show up for important games.
  • Some pretty amazing outdoor scenery, and lots of wide open spaces for hiking, biking, boating, and more. Wildlife is abundant. The deer in the photo were grazing in the pasture just below our house last night, and trotted off over the hill after I captured the photo.

  • All in all, we are welcoming the newcomers with open arms. After so many years of "depopulation", we're excited to see some "re-population". It's a good thing for our state, our schools, and our communities. We hope the new residents will embrace our way of life, and will be happy here.

    This isn't "the middle of nowhere", it's the "middle of somewhere really nice!"