There’s no arguing that there are a lot of new faces in Houston and the surrounding area.
You can clearly see that by simply setting foot inside Walmart or Miller’s Grill, and more evidence can easily be found by checking online real estate listings where a large percentage of homes are tagged as “pending.”
Considering what’s going on these days in U.S. cities and the general state of urban settings around the world, it’s hard to blame anyone for wishing to set up camp in a place like the South Central Missouri Ozarks, or more specifically Texas County.
I don’t think a laundry list of reasons why a person or family would make such a move is at all necessary; just watch the evening news or talk to a friend or relative in the city and it’s all pretty obvious.
But with such migration comes possibilities, not all of which are pleasant. Basically, not everyone leaving the city really wants to leave the whole city behind.
In other words, some people might come to a place like this hoping to replicate situations and circumstances they’re accustomed to rather than just accepting how things are and making the most of what’s already available. Again, I don’t believe a laundry list of what those situations and circumstances might be is necessary. No, I think what I’m getting at needs no formal description and sort of speaks for itself.
And I wish to point out that I have a wealth of experience with this subject, because my family and I were once city dwellers and decided to get away from that and adopt the small town lifestyle. But when we did, our intention was to sincerely become residents of our new community, not people from somewhere else who happened to live there.
The bottom line is, with so many new people arriving, there are bound to be some growing pains. But that pain doesn’t have to become antagonistic, and should instead be limited to things like restaurants being a bit more crowded and gas pumps already being occupied.
To put it bluntly (but respectfully) to those who fall into this category: Please leave the intellectual baggage behind.
Nothing here needs to be “fixed,” and there’s no need for anyone or anything to “evolve” more quickly. And it’s not that people here “don’t know any better.” On the contrary, they do, and that’s why they’re here already.
Rather than expending a bunch of energy on plans to correct, reform or replace, how about devising ways to improve, enhance or promote?
Please understand that I’m not accusing anyone of anything, and I’m not saying “you city folk need to stay in the city.” I’m just saying that there’s a fairly delicate balance that drives life in the Ozarks and other rural areas of the U.S. that probably wouldn’t withstand much pressure before being upset, and I think everyone who is here or comes here needs to be aware of that.
Anyway, I can certainly relate to anyone wanting to escape the madness of urban life and chooses the Ozarks (in particular Texas County) as a place to find some peace, tranquility and even safety. In my opinion, that viewpoint is spot on, and feeling the same way in the depths of my soul is why I now call this place home.
But I think making that transition isn’t about “enlightening” the region’s current residents to “the benefits of modern living” and such. No, it’s about things like assimilating, intermixing and preserving, rather than influencing, dictating and domineering.
When my family and I came here, it was to be parts of what already existed, not agents of change. My hope is simply that most of the folks who are flocking here now have a similar understanding – and leave their mental baggage behind.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.