Howdy, Colorado. In today's "News that isn't news to us," Denver has been named America's best place to live. My first thought? Of course it is. Second thought? Here comes a wave of anger directed at people who didn't have the good fortune to have been born within the bounds of our square state. Transplants. Uninvited guests who have spoiled native Coloradans' party in the second Garden of Eden.
Full disclosure: I'm a transplant. I moved to Colorado nine years ago. Haven't regretted it for a moment since. But being a transplant means there are two things I can't do. I can't buy one of those green NATIVE bumper stickers (I hear they check your birth certificate at checkout). And I can't talk about this issue like I'm not personally invested in it, from a Colorado transplant's perspective.
But I can offer another perspective - one that I think is worth considering each time Colorado bemoans population growth and all that comes with it. I offer the perspective of previously living in one of those areas of America being drained of its people, its economic drivers, and its pride. I'm from Western New York. It's a beautiful place full of hard-working people with a gritty outlook. It's a place on the upswing after a few rough decades.
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When I hear Coloradans decry what their state has become, I wish they could spend some time in the shoes of someone from Western New York, Cleveland, Detroit, or Pittsburgh. (All are now better places to live today, after decades of struggle.)
It's gut-wrenching to see your city or region slowly dying. The decay, political infighting, and strain on families follows. Not unlike the strain on families, the political fights over resources, and the wear put on Colorado's infrastructure as our population grows.
In Colorado, rents rise as apartments shrink and toll lanes spring up allowing us to pay our way out of the crush of traffic. In my hometown, family businesses close, churches shut their doors, jobs disappear, and the question is whether enough people still live on a road to justify maintaining it.
Both scenarios have their challenges. Denver is faced with an affordable housing shortage, infrastructure overload, and tough choices on government spending. But Denver is also blessed with an expanding tax base, enterprising new people and their businesses, and the infectious spirit of a city on the rise.
As a journalist, I promise to be frank with you about Denver's challenges and the possible solutions. As a person, I know every moving truck rolling into Colorado comes from some city or town somewhere else in America. And I wonder what they're reading about in the news today.