Why I Occupy Shepherdstown
I try to explain it to my folks who came in from Arizona to visit. They wonder why I don’t move closer to the city where there are more jobs, “better” schools, etc. That question has been buzzing around my head lately. What is it about this bizzare little Island of Misfit Toys we call home? And maybe it’s just cognitive dissonance, but that question has been somehow concatenated with another question I hear on the tee vee and interwebs every day. What is it those kids down in Zucotti Park and elsewhere really want anyway? Well, I know the answer to the first one.
From the Folly to the Rumsey Radio Hour to the Appalachian Heritage Festival to Thursday nights in the Great Hall at O’Hurleys, you can’t swing a sack of apples without smacking a creative opus upside the head in this town. We got Professional Theater, Student Theater, Contemporary Theater, Community Theater, Medieval Theater, you name it. And if you want music, it’s a slow night when there are only five performances to choose from at any given moment. I could go on. And I probably will.
But it’s not just creative arts. The more I learn about how we feed ourselves in this country the more I come to appreciate the choices we have here. I have a milkman. A MILKMAN! Somebody actually comes to my house once a week and brings me delicious, wholesome milk from humanely raised cows. And all I have to do is give him money. And not that much, really. If I want to, I don’t have to rely on some bogus label on a package that says my family’s food is free range or hormone free or whatever. I get to look into the eyes of the farmer who raised that food. I have a choice of restaurants within a couple blocks of my house that endeavor to serve us local seasonal food.
Do you guys get how rare that is?
I’m on a first name basis with all the librarians. There’s no faceless bureaucracy to contend with. I know everybody in the Town Hall. (And Krystal, I promise I will be in to pay that water bill absolutely as soon as we can!) We have a committed and caring police force that I have come to trust implicitly, and that wasn’t easy. We have an active, walkable downtown with fantastic shops, many who specialize in the local and the handcrafted. We have rich and lively schools staffed by some real superstars, and all manner of functional civic organizations.
Life is real here. There’s precious little of the TGI-McShenannigans franchise fakery that passes for culture these days. Oh it’s out there, awful close. But we can, and usually do, choose the real over the fake around here.
So we wonder if those folks occupying our cities, railing against the phony and faceless, the relentless and oppressive institutions. You know what they really want? What they are really demanding? From where I’m sitting, I think they want to live in a place that looks and feels a lot like Shepherdstown.