Spaz's stuff
What I want

(Thu Mar 11 22:00:42 2010)

The things I want that Longview, TX just can't provide

Maybe I'm stuck up - but as much as I love Longview, there are just some things in which is it is sorely lacking. Andrew and I have discussed this many a time, and I thought that in order for coherency to reign, I ought to write them out somewhere for reference and for dreaming of ideals. Everyone should have both: dreams and ideals.

1. a better library
For pity's sake - Longview is PATHETIC in this regard! I grew up on a town of less than 1000 people that had a comparable children's section and FAR superior ILL and reserve policies. I don't suppose I'd be quite so picky, except when one intends to homeschool - a good library isn't a necessity, but it can make all the difference in the world from a hum drum schooling experience to something really superior!

Is it so much to ask? With all the yuppy workout facilities in Longview, couldn't we manage a simple YMCA? Salina, KS has one and it only has >50,000 people. Bowling Green, Ohio has one, and it only has 30,000! What business does a city of nearly 80,000 individuals have not having something as simple, afforable and wholesome as a Y? I truly don't understand.

3. Big University
Yes, I'm showing my bias to my home - Ohio - which has the highest number of post-secondary schools per square mile in the country. You can't go more than 15 miles in any direction without running into at least a community college. Meanwhile, living away from them in Longview for the first time in my life, I realize what a BIG university (>15,000 students) provides:
- cultural diversity. Wanna study Hindus? We have them in stock, a support group for them, and a whole section of the library devoted to them. It's not just - white, black and mexican. It's EVERYTHING. You can learn any foreign language FROM the source. You can have any type of cooking - it's all available. You can find clothes, religion and nitty gritty about anyone, because they're all here!
- food choices! I LOVE mexican food, don't get me wrong. It's one of my top 3 favorite ethinic food types of all time. But the other 2? German/polish and Italian - fat chance finding ANY authentic restaurant of that type in the East Texas area. But, when you have the demand (college students go wild with food choices) and the real people from that culture to make the food (not the mexicans running a chinese restaurant - wth?) it is truly AMAZING.
- information at your fingertips. These big schools have big libraries, big departments, and big grants for research. You can take part in it, take advantage of it, or just love the fact that undergraduate and graduate students alike actually WANT to teach you or your kids for dirt cheap. Low cost private music lessons? private tutoring? summer schools for the gifted? check, check, check!!
- culture on the cheap. rather than paying an arm and a leg and needing to dress up to go to opera, dance, or theatre, you can go to rehearsals or school showings for dirt cheap or even FREE! I saw so much amazing music, theater and drama as a kid - for nothing - that it blows my mind how expensive and inaccessible these things are to the general public.
- Activism. I'm going to mention politics as an example, but activism amongst university students is impressive in a myriad of directions. I'm frankly distressed at the lack of enthusiasm the general public expresses toward political involvement. They scream about the government but do absolutely NOTHING to change it! Voting is the least to it. There are no rallys, no meetings, no public awareness, no information sources! In university towns, there is enthusiasm, vigor and excitement about politics. Heck, politicians come to universities regularly. You get to meet and see your passions. And it isn't just politics - Missionaries, Humanities groups, you name it - they have a group for it made up of hardcore members just dying for more members.
- sports. If you want to do curling, badminton, or croquet, that's ok. There will be a group, facility, team, and lessons for that. It isn't just football, basketball, baseball and track. It's all there if you want it. And again - it's probably run by students, so it's cheap!

You do not need to live in St. Louis, Chicago or NYC to have these things. Au contrere. I lived 14 miles away from Universities with over 20,000 students, in towns with a native population of less than 30,000 my entire childhood. Never was I nearer than 30 miles in any direction to a town with more than 100,000 people. I was 90 miles from the "big city." I lived with the cows and the cornfield in the quiet country towns. Roads didn't have more than 2 lanes anywhere within 20 miles of my house. Still, I had all the joy of being quite near (only 20 minutes away) from university towns.

4. USDA Hardiness Zones 5-6

Ok, call me picky. I grew up in zones 5b and 5a, respectively. So, I'm biased. My husband is from zone 6b. Let's look at this practically. Look at any gardening catalog. What are the most common zones for plants to grow in? 4-8. The really spiffy ones grow in 3-9. Then there are things like lilacs: 3-7, or those wretched ____ that only grow in zones 6-9. What are the overlapping zones in all of this? 5 & 6. It seems that in in zones 5 and 6 you can grow just about everything if your soil is right. Not the tropical plants, and probably not the cactus. You'll also have trouble with some more northern reaching pines and hardwoods. But honestly, when you have such breadth, you can handle not having QUITE everything.

Also, let's get right down to it - I live in 8a and my parents are in 9a. It's just HOT. this is where snow is a downright anomaly and 100 degrees in June is common. But, where my grandparents are in 4a, 75 is blazing hot and -40 is typical January night temps. My favorite temperatures are between 10F (in the sun) and 85F (in the shade). I can HANDLE 90F and I can HANDLE temps below 0F, but I PREFER 10-85F. That gets me a decently warm (not HOT) summer, and plenty of opportunity for snow in the winter. Where is that temperature range found? zones 5 & 6. So, maybe it's trying to be easy. But, I love having 4 real seasons and I love being able to have lots of fun in my garden. I don't want hot and not hot. I don't want "well, this plant looks a bit like 'x' and you'll just have to deal with it because that won't grow here." But, I know what I like.

5. A good homeschool community

Quite frankly, I think that if the aforementioned are all met, this will not even be an issue. If you have culture, good weather, and good access to activity and amusement, you will have homeschoolers. Oh yes, homeschoolers are perfectly capable of creating their own amusements, activities and opportunities. I don't want to be limiting. But, if you only have 1 option, or even no options for fellowship, you really are in a bind. No matter how Christian you are, only having 1 group of Christian Homeschoolers in a 40 mile radius is pretty stilted. Same goes for secular groups. I'd prefer to have my pick, or even be a part of multiple groups and take advantage of favorite aspects. Still, Longview is pretty stuck in this arena.

6. Family friendly venues and events.

I grew up in a town of less than 1000. We had the Apple Butter Festival every year that drew 70,000. Andrew, from Salina, a town half Longview's size, has the River Festival, which draws almost 80,000 over the 3 day arts festival. What does longview have? Alley Fest and Balloon racing. Seriously? Vastly insufficient to our expectation and standard. And the cost of some of the available activities is NOT family friendly. It's Texas. 8 months of the year it's easy to be outside - why do they have fewer family-oriented events than a state with only 4 or 6 outdoors friendly months? Beats me.

Well, I'm sure there's more. I KNOW there is. But this is what I have for now, and what I dream of on those hot, humid August nights when I cant manage to stop sweating long enough to sleep.

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This blag is tagged: Homeschool, Ideal, Library, Moving, Standards, Ymca, All