Friday, September 14, 2012

"Legitimate" Love for My Town

If I haven't convinced you of Paonia's provincial quaintness with my photos of poetically sagging barns, kaleidoscoped meals, mountains that inspire our lofty will, and animals that melt your heart, well, start paying attention. Obviously, it's a beautiful life here. 

For the complex creatures that we are beauty is not enough to bind us to this spot. A healthy dose of mainstream recognition adequately fuels my defense of our redneck existence. My vanity demands it, and the world graciously provides.

To start anecdotally, my friend Sarah, the director of the Conservation Center here in town, helped orchestrate our effort to fight off oil and gas development on lands that directly surround our town. When Sarah met with our Congressional State Representatives in DC several months later they gave nod to Paonia. Never before had they received so many letters about a single issue in all their years in office.

This past July our local hairdresser and former town councilman stepped in front of an armory of war tanks that made their way into our Fourth of July parade. He thrust a sign above his head, daring the tank forward. It read, "Democracy bought and sold," a message intended for our local billionaire, Bill Koch, owner of the tanks, a coal mine, and arguably the coffers of our political representatives.  This event catapulted Tiennamen Sid into the national media limelight and earned him some air time on both Rachel Maddow and Amy Goodman's evening news.

You can imagine my delight when the New Yorker ran an article chronicling our on-going saga with Bill Koch on his proposed federal land swap (Page 34 of the Sep. 10th issue).

Everything done in our town tends to be externally validated. You get a new job, DJ a radio show, cut your hair, find romance, stand in front of a tank, get sick, buy a house, hunt down an elk, go out of town, stand-up for our community --whatever it is, people know and they generally get pretty excited about it. 

It makes sense to everyone who lives here why we stay--it feels good to have people care and pay attention. It validates that burning desire to have your existence acknowledged. When the magazines my family reads or the shows that my friends watch feature our humble town I can't help but swell with pride.

And even though I am surrounded by people who feel the dynamic pulse of our town thumping along, it feels good to have a some "legitimate" evidence to point.

One of my Paonia favorites is leaving in a matter of weeks for good. Another failed attempt by the Paonia Youth Retention Comittee. I write to console my sad heart and to encourage those who persevere. 

I thought this one deserves an explanation-smudging the space and each other in preparation for Shawn and Chelsea's wedding workday party. 

I love when meetings run late and I get to hang with my co-worker's kiddos.

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