My affinity for the television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been well documented. Last night, I had extra cause to enjoy the show: The episode was filmed here in the Northwest, when the cast helped a family on Washington's Kitsap Peninsula, across the Sound from Seattle. It was especially heartwarming to see my fellow Nor'Westers helping their neighbors. And it mitigated a frustration of mine.
For better or for worse, the view that most people outside the Northwest have of us is almost entirely shaped by the image present by the larger cities, especially Seattle, Portland, and, to a lesser extent, Eugene. That image is one of NFL teams that choke, Starbucks (two on every corner), Grunge bands, WTC Riots, Anarchist cells, SUV-torching Earth First!'ers, and rain, rain, rain.
Well, ok, the rain part is fair. But the rest of it... well, it's a limited view, at best, and misrepresents the reality anywhere outside the big cities. The Northwest that was shown on last night's EM:HE was the Northwest I grew up in -- Rural, beautiful (albeit soggy), full of good-hearted people who would give you the shirt off their backs. Sure, we have good and bad, just like anywhere else, but the average rural Oregonian or Washingtonian is honest, hard-working, and is almost indistinguishable from the kind of people you'd find in any rural region (except for the webs between the toes and the layer of moss). And they are, almost unanimously, aware of the exquisite beauty of their surroundings. They are as proud, hardy, and hospitable as any Texan, Kansan, or Southerner you'll meet, and in most cases, probably descended from whichever state you're in as you read this.
So the next time you read a headline from Portland or Seattle, take a moment and remember just how small a spot on our map each of those places is. And try not to paint the rest of our states with their brush.
Cross-Posted at Head West, Turn Right.