December 29, 2015
anywhere but herechristmas 2015 – 8th entry
click to read the christmas 2015 posts
Dom and I went walking a couple days ago and we got on the topic of expats. He’s always been disappointed that he hasn’t found a way to interact with the town where he was born. (The five of us visit family and that is our interaction with Sault Ste Marie.) This led me to make the statement that Sault Ste Marie and the state of Michigan share many similarities. Both are places that people leave and come back only to visit parents. None of my friends from high-school live in Sault Ste Marie; they have all left and now make their homes in southern Ontario; one has found his way to western Mexico. The city has lost close to 30,000 people since the mid-seventies. Also, I know several people who grew up in Michigan, but now live elsewhere and have never considered going back to The Wolverine State. Both groups of expats have some very successful people in them. The Sault Ste Marie expats include teachers, mid-level managers, agency directors, entrepreneurs …; the Michigan expats include architects, museum founder/directors, city-managers …
Dom believes that the weather and economic opportunities are the road-blocks preventing people from returning after college, after marriage. I also think the region has lost so much talent, that there’s a sense of stagnation everywhere one looks. And the stagnation stops the move back. Michigan on the other hand, has always been a rough and at times mean place. The 1960’s riots destroyed Detroit. And the sentiments and divisions that fueled that rage are still in evidence today. Look at what the Governor’s Office has done with the water supply in Flint; look what the Governor did to the elected mayors of Flint, Pontiac and Detroit.
In contrast, Pittsburgh pulls back its sons-and-daughters and when they return they make significant contributions to the civic life of the region.