Community and Other Changes
August 14, 2019 | View PDF
When I moved to Virginia City, the sign “Welcome to Virginia City - Resisting Change since 1863” amused me. I understand the sentiment behind that statement, as the community wants to preserve the old buildings and atmosphere that attracts thousands of tourists every year. The town even has sign law restrictions for businesses that dictate sign size, color, and construction, along with restrictions on what people can or cannot do to their outside property that lies within the historic district. Townsfolks would like to preserve what they have, however difficult that may prove to be in the future.
However, change in our lives happens all the time; nothing last forever or remains static for very long. Some change we regard as good and embrace with open arms, while we dread and anticipate the worst-case scenario when other events cause change to occur in our lives. Our outlook depends on circumstances and experience.
Supposedly older people have more problems adapting to change, but I don’t believe that. Regardless of how many years we’ve seen, circumstances can bring much wanted and appreciated changes in which we delight and that gives us a fresh lease on life. However, many times change means difficulties and a reorientation of a lifestyle, and this can occur at any stage of a person’s life. The one constant fact about our existence is that we will experience change every step of the way throughout our span of years on this earth.
The changes we dread or resent the most are those beyond our control, such as illness, loss of a job, or drastic alterations within a community or a lifestyle. Change can split families or communities in half, and change by its very nature makes us unable to return to what we had last month or last year.
Often change strikes a community. New businesses, or the influx of new people due to industry can change a quiet, sleepy town where neighbors willingly helped neighbors without any thought of remuneration, into an unpleasant place to live. Peaceful lives, secure homes, and neighbors one could count upon for help disappear. Traffic roars up and down the streets at all hours of the day and night, a whole host of unknown people in unfamiliar vehicles cruise up and down the roadways, gawking at whatever catches their eye, noise increases a thousand-fold, and communities deteriorate as a nice place to live. Communities on both sides of the State of Montana have seen such transformations.
Bozeman used to be a quiet little college town. Locals now call it BozeAngeles due to the horrendous changes that have occurred there over the last decade. Heavy traffic, the influx of people, precious farmland turned into unattractive housing developments all has contributed to this alteration of a community.
I grew up in a small Pennsylvania town surrounded by lush farmland. Over time, the farmland slowly vanished field by field by field, and today that fertile land lies buried under concrete driveways and housing developments. Hundreds of houses blot the landscape, and no longer can the land grow wheat, corn, support livestock, or do anything at all except become more and more polluted with overpopulation. That small town is still a small town with not much to offer anyone; it’s just completely crowded, dirty, rank, and unappealing. I never go back to my hometown, as my hometown no longer exists as I remember it, and I certainly don’t care at all for what it has become. It’s now just a little hole on the highway best forgotten and best left behind forever.
In many cases people do have a choice about change in their lives, but too often people can’t see the results of their choices until it’s too late to take a different path. Once we lose a way of life, it never comes back.
Of course, we see changes other than watching our communities mutate and alter in front of our eyes. My mother used to say that she thought her mother grew up in the generation that saw the most rapid changes, as my grandmother went from traveling by horse and buggy to watching the US put men on the moon.
However, if my mother still lived, I think she would understand that the transitions my grandmother saw can’t compare with how quickly everything alters today. Electronics are obsolete by the time I purchase them and walk out the store door; attitudes and outlooks have changed, behavior among people has altered drastically, our environment faces almost insurmountable odds for the survival of life as it exists today, and the list goes on.
Change is inevitable. How we deal with it and the choices we make will make or break us, not necessarily the change itself.