Small Town Values

I live in a small town, close to a large city (Los Angeles).

We moved here about ten years ago, and I had lived and run my business for decades before that in much more populated areas and sprawling metropolises.

The differences are remarkable:
– The feeling of community, of pride in the town itself, is far beyond anything I’ve previously encountered. People are actively happy to live here.

– Regular folks meet and are friendly with members of local government, in stores and gas stations. This produces, on both sides, a feeling of greater involvement in civil affairs.

– The result is that problems are seen as something for “us” to solve, rather than for “them” to fix for us.

– The citizens are also friendly with each other. Whether they know you or not, they are quick with a smile, polite in traffic, and courteous in social gatherings. Civility is prized, which suits me very well.

– The community holds little awards ceremonies each year for the top teacher, top student, top service organization, top volunteer et cetera. There are ten categories, and the turnout is very large.

– Disagreements get discussed rather than shouted, and even politics have a very different feel. (The Los Angeles Times wrote about this effect in Iowa.) I support a local Democrat, though at the national level I am quite thoroughly on the other side; it’s no problem and we have dinner together from time to time.

– The charitable involvement is very large for a small place, and the percentage of volunteers is heartwarming. There are fund raisers of one kind or another on a weekly basis, helping homeless, orphans, battered women or whomever.

– A lot of the community grew up or spent much time in the cities; they are quick to say that they have no interest in going back.

– And, of course, you can walk the streets at any hour with no concern for your safety. When we finally had to lock our front door (not due to local situations) years after moving in, my Lady and I didn’t know where the key was.

– There are gays active in the community and in business, and they are welcomed. And there are many religions and many churches here, and non-theists, too, are welcomed and accepted. It truly feels like a community of thousands of friends.

Is it possible for someone to move here from a city, and stay holed up and uninvolved? Certainly — and to them, the place will seem unremarkable.

But that friendliness, that “small town value” feel, will pull at you — and it is hard to resist.

===|==============/ Level Head

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Which town is it? I’ve lived in the Greater LA area since I was about six months old, and all the “towns” I know have grown together into one big mass. The closest town I know where there’s room between towns is Wrightwood, in one of the valleys off Cajon Pass. Before gas got so expensive, I used to take weekend getaways to Lone Pine up near Mt Whitney, just to Get Out Of The City.

  • Den Whitton

    I lived in Sydney and hated every minute. Out here, rush hour is 15 minutes long and it takes 20 minutes to drive from one side of town to the other. And Dubbo is the BIG town!

    If you want to see what it’s like around here, have a 90km drive compressed into 4 minutes: I filmed this time lapse from my car. The towns I pass through are Tomingley (pop 300) Peak Hill (pop 2000) and Alectown (pop 400)

  • Lady_Anne

    Interesting post – I’m more familiar with small (5K) towns in the midwest, but yours sounds more “like home”

  • Den Whitton


    By local standards I live in one of the largest inland cities in the state, but I think by US standards, 45,000 people is a smallish town. It is quite a lot more relaxed than living in Sydney.

  • Jim Lane

    Bookmarked! };-)

  • Welcome! Let me know if the comment notification is working.

    ===|==============/ Level_Head

  • marmoe

    The gecko has landed. 😉

  • Greetings. In legal terms, I think you just “signed a waver”.

    Comment notifications are an area that will need work, I think. There are RSS feeds, but I want to do better than that.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  • Jen

    *waves* Bookmarked. ^_^