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It’s not that they don’t care about us


Richard Shaw

By Richard Shaw

People get centered in their lives, their circumstances and their families and often don’t consider others too much.
That is particularly when they are far away, out of place and out of mind.
In recent years the economy in our area has digressed although not as much as some said it would, and not as much as some say it has. We have seen some big retailers close their doors in our area, and we have also seen a lot of small businesses fold as well. This we observe in the local area while on the television stations broadcast from the Wasatch Front, all seems so rosy economically. Almost anyone who wants to work from Logan to Payson can get a job, and the area just seems to be getting more big firms moving in all the time.
Utah, it seems to many, is on a roll.

No boom here

But that roll is just happening along the Wasatch Front and by extension in the Washington/Iron County area. It is not true for the rest of us.
Despite this we have some very good things happening here that have been hashed out many times in this paper and in other places. What we have going on is not as big, not as impressive, but some movement forward just the same.
I often hear people gripe about how the “Wasatch Front doesn’t care what happens to us.” If you look at other news sources in rural areas around the state you can see the same kind of complaining. But I think that saying people and government in the populated part of the state don’t care about what happens out here in the hinterlands, is a misstatement. I think they just don’t think about us very much. We are centered on our small universe, and they are centered on theirs. If you talk to the average person on the Wasatch Front many can’t even tell you where Price is, and if they can most of their images include only power plants and coal mines.
Whenever a story appears about the downturn in coal or power production in the upstate papers appears, the trolls come out on the comment boards. They attack our industries and our way of life. But most people read those articles and just move onto the next one. For a moment most think, “Wow that must hurt,” and then they move onto their next thought.
If you don’t believe me that people in the big cities don’t think about us much, look at yourself as an example, just in a little bit different universe. What do you think about on a daily basis? We do think of the metropolitan area a lot because much of what we do in government and some in business centers round the high population areas of the state. But do you think about other towns in Utah regularly besides your own. Do you know what people in Delta are facing or those in Tropic? Do you wonder regularly what is going on in Snowville or Wendover? If you have relatives or business dealings in those towns, then you might. But if you don’t I doubt you think of any of those places consistently.
The Wasatch Front is broad and diverse. While you may think we hold a special place in the state (and I think we do too), most people there are just trying to live their lives, while holding their place in it as special too. So many people who live there are not even natives of Utah anymore and did not go to school in the state. Many have a very weak understanding of the geography and the other people who reside not only in areas like ours, but even in the next county over from where they live.
To get people to care about you, you need them to think about you. And to get them to think about you, you need to be in their face in one form or another. Groups in our area have tried hard to do that. Our leaders have spent money on television advertising through the County Seat program, through tourism and through economic development efforts, among many other activities. But while we have to be aggressive in our message in many ways, both officially and through our citizens making sure people they know who live in the highly populated areas see that we are important, we also have to consider that there can be backlash. I have often talked to people who think the rural areas of the state wield way too much power in the legislature for the size of its population. I had one person at the state capitol tell me that it seemed in many things, the tail is wagging the dog, and that tail is us.
There is a fine line between fighting for what is right and what is ours and walking the tight rope of realizing that while we do have claims that should be honored and we should be considered, we are just a small part of the population of the state. Besides, do we really want what they have? Few of us would like this area to turn into a metropolitan area like the Wasatch Front. We want a good economy, but not one that overruns us, changing the way of life we have completely.
The point to understand is the reality of the situation, and to work hard to change things. People should quit complaining that we don’t have this or we don’t have that. Instead we should understand and be pragmatic about the fact that we are a small community that is a good place to live, but not a place anyone thinks about a whole lot. The only way we can get them to care is to be sure we put our best foot forward with everyone we meet and then be positive about what we do have. This can be done in person, through correspondence or through social media. Simply put, our population is our strongest sales force to help people consider who we are and how our area impacts the state.
It is up to each of us to do our part.

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