Monday, May 28, 2007

Quality of life: post 1 of ...?

So yesterday, we did the math on this move and showed that, for us, it was an economically smart decision.

Let's talk about quality of life now; this post will discuss SLO.

(This is Mary writing, by the way.)

The quality of life in San Luis Obispo is, most would agree, idyllic. At least in terms of weather and sheer natural beauty. The downtown area is fun (although it's not as quaint as it once was), and the crime rate is relatively low--although we have had our share of murders and such, unfortunately.

The people are generally friendly, and it's quiet, green, and peaceful.

But for me, at least, all of those characteristics started to come together into a Disney-esque landscape--a place that exists apart from reality. Whenever we would go on a vacation to a big city, or somewhere that had ethnic and cultural diversity, I found myself not wanting to come back to SLO.

Let's face it. Now this will sound blunt, but I mean it to. If you walk down the streets of downtown SLO and see a black person, you notice.

That simply shouldn't be the case.

I noticed that I was noticing, if that makes sense. And I didn't like it.

I also felt cut off from new art and music (no offense to the SLO arts community, but it's fairly staid).

And to top it off, my work life had me feeling isolated, as well.

For many people, SLO is the right place for them. It wasn't for me anymore, nor was it the right place for Jeff.

And to be completely honest, I'm not sure it's the best place to raise a family (yes, I really did say that). If children grow up in Disneyland--and there's a lot more diversity at Disneyland, by the way--how well do they function when they leave the Magic Kingdom?

Judging by some of the experiences of Rachel's friends who are just finishing their first year of college--or some who didn't finish--not all that well. Yes, some did fine. Many did not, however.

I suppose you could simply say, well, like every place, SLO has its pluses and minuses. But the thing is, people who live there tend to forget about the minuses, and some of those are rather important:

  • Lack of ethnic diversity
  • Culturally, a bit static
  • Employment ... low pay related to cost of living, few opportunities
  • Housing prices (need I say more?)
  • Disney-esque atmosphere that may prevent personal growth, especially in our children
  • Isolated, both geographically and otherwise
  • Becoming an enclave of the wealthy
What bothers me most--and I promise, this will be the end of this lengthy post--is that the government and the people of SLO seem unwilling to tackle many of these issues. There is a very strange mindset there. Not everyone possesses it, of course. But once you are away for awhile, you start to realize that the "I have mine, so I don't care if you have yours" attitude is quite prevalent in SLO County.

When I first moved there, it wasn't that way. I'm not sure of all the factors that have gone into the metamorphosis, but I do know that it's not someplace I could ever live again. Despite the gorgeous vistas, beautiful weather, calm environment and all that good stuff.

Comments welcome.

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