Years ago I read a book that probably wouldn't have otherwise hit my radar.
I only read it because I had become a fan of the author's other books; so I decided to give his latest efforts a try.
Bill was born in America but lived abroad for a couple decades. The country he returned to was foreign to him, and required a few adjustments.
I know this feeling. I'm living it myself.
Not a different country actually, but it may as well be.
My father was a military man. So we moved around quite a bit. I've had 42 different addresses in my life and I've only ever planted roots deeper than 3 years on one occasion.
So when I first arrived in Utah in the early 80's it was for school. I had only recently come into the presence of Mormons to any significance quantity a year and a half earlier. And this place was chock full of them. (They are in the majority actually.)
Though I'd lived in several states before then, Utah was... well... different.
I spent little time getting to know the area. I was there to go to school and that was that.
I kept my head in the books, didn't soak in the amazing scenery (I still don't know how that was possible) and then I graduated and moved on.
What followed was time in South Carolina, Texas, a stint abroad, and then, ultimately Arizona.
--- Fast Forward to two years ago ---
I had become more intrigued by Utah. After some consideration, and with all the preparation of diving right in, we moved. We sold a business. Sold a house.
And here we are.
I could fill this little space on the web with links to story after story of what's happening in Utah. But it feels so public-relationsy. (not a word, I realize.)
To sum it up: This is not the place I left.
Provo, Utah was a college town. While I was there it ranked toward the bottom of financial charts. Students don't have much money and the stats proved it.
Provo, Utah used to exist below the poverty line.
Now it's a darling. A place where companies start companies. And venture capital is pouring in. And people are moving-on-up right where they live.
Unemployment is low.
Jobs are plentiful.
The place is beautiful.
And I'm starting to plant roots.
If you'd like a pretty even-handed view of what's happening here, you don't have to search the web too deep. It seems everyone is writing about this place. This odd place that does things differently.
One author from Bloomberg decided to offer an in-depth look. It just hit the press a few hours ago.
Megan McArdle examines, among other things, the quandary of how Utah has the highest upward mobility ranking. That is to say, a person born into meager circumstances here has a much greater likelihood of getting ahead financially than anywhere else in the country.
She also examines the battle on poverty, the separation (co-existence?) of church and state, the importance of volunteerism and the next question: Can this plan be duplicated with similar results?