Grieving what was
There was a post on a Flathead Valley social media page where a new resident was asking about the local’s favorite things. Well, the responses were often emotional and strongly encouraged new people NOT to come to the valley.
This got me thinking of my perspective as someone who first experienced the valley in 1986 and has called it home for over 20 years.
I feel the paradise, tranquility, courtesy and community, that longtime residents have loved and cherished, is quickly disappearing. I think longtime residents are actually grieving the loss of the valley they knew and that is why they are expressing angst and emotion on social media and in conversations.
Newcomers today, experiencing the valley for the first time, are seeing “wonder” as they are comparing it to what they know to be true. However, what they are seeing, is a far cry from what the valley was, even a couple years ago.
For me, the valley I know has been a sleepy place with limited seasons of Canadians and tourists. Today, it’s a year-round, hustling metropolitan conglomerate. We have attracted money, wealth, influence, arrogance, entitlement, disregard for nature, and impatience, and what we have attracted has changed our community and is changing our culture. I think that is what locals are most grieved about.
(Now obviously wonderful people have moved into the valley as well, but the sad part is we need more wonderful, less entitled.)
My biggest request for anyone moving here is please participate. Please be a builder and a contributor to our valley, not just a taker of its resources. We don’t need more takers; there are plenty already here.
What we really need are kind neighbors, we need people volunteering in nonprofits, we need soccer coaches, we need substitute teachers, we need patient drivers, we need people to learn of the history of this beautiful place and then find ways to cherish it, we need people who reduce stress on law enforcement not increase it, we need people to leave no trace and pick up someone else’s garbage too, we need people who want to link arms and build our community, not tear it down.
Our valley will never be the tranquil paradise of yesteryear but it can still be wonderful, especially if the new people come to contribute, and locals, in turn, invite them to become part of the fabric of our lives.
Pearl Galbraith, Whitefish