The Ties That Bind People Together

One of the most interesting things about Cleveland is learning who knows who.  For example several days ago I told a coworker that I am going to be in the market for a new car soon as my lease is expiring.   She apparently knew the owner of the dealership I was thinking of buying from because he gave me a call the next day.   That was kind of awesome because now I am more than just another customer walking in the door.

That is one of the perks of living in a small town.  In a community of only 13,000 people, folks tend to get to know each other.  That is especially true in Cleveland.  The Delta is the sort of place people tend not to enter unless they have a reason to and so those who live here seem to stick close to one another.  That is doubly true since Delta State’s presence here sets us apart from the rest of the area so people don’t really leave town much unless they are going on a trip.

Coming from the New York City area, all of the above has taken some getting used to.  Just knowing my neighbors is a bit of a change and a largely welcome one.  The sort of faceless anonymity that marks much larger communities is mostly absent from Cleveland.  People talk face to face and information spreads by word of mouth.  They tend not to do much online social networking around here and instead stick to the in person kind.   Thus in a small town you are far more likely to here about community events from friends than from Facebook.

The flipside is that small towns don’t have the same level of diversity as larger places.  Now Cleveland is an exception to this in many ways because of Delta State.  Most of the people who teach here are from elsewhere and there is a small international student population.  But other towns on the Delta are not so lucky.  The “bubble effect” I mentioned several weeks ago stems as much from the small size of the communities as from the relative isolation of the region.

Yet for all its diversity there are somethings that are true of a lot of people, at least those who have settled here.  They tend to be older and often share similar worldviews.  Younger folks such as myself often leave for other places.  Sometimes they come back, as in the case of Delta State President William LaForge, who grew up in Cleveland and lived elsewhere before coming home for his current job.  But there are others who haven’t returned.  Those Teach for America Corps members who have not stayed in their positions come to mind. It seems that while outsiders pass through, only a certain few stay. 

Some of you might be wondering which category I will fall in to.  Unfortunately there is no answer to that question.  Cleveland is a nice place to live.  But someone who is just starting out in their career can’t really afford to settle down too much if they want to advance.  While I have been pondering those questions from time to time it is for too early for me to come to any conclusions.  For now, Cleveland is home and for the time being it will remain so. 

Article by Mike

Mike is the Head of Discovery Services for the Delta State University Library. He has lived in Cleveland since May 2013.

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