The Workings of a Small Community

Last summer a catastrophe happened in our little community.  A mother wanted to feel safe riding her bike with her little boy on the streets. The main street in town is Highway 101. The speed limit was 40, but people often ignore it and zip through town, all six or seven blocks. So, she wrote a letter to Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to ask that the speed limit be reduced. What she didn’t realize was the chain of events that letter would put into effect. At first, the department sent a team down to investigate. That team reported back that we were a little town and there was no reason to have the speed limit where it was. They moved the existing zone by two blocks and in effect shortened our community limits. Now, I had cars zooming passed my house at 60 miles an hour! I had a twelve year old at the time who enjoyed walking to the library, now outside of the 40 mile speed zone, and across the street to the market. The community outcry resulted in a town hall meeting at the library with ODOT. The department said that we needed to have road culture.

Road culture is displayed by things like signs saying welcome to our community. That started another committee. This group consisted of locals who had a vested interest in the outcomes. Last spring signs went up on both ends of town just out side the speed zone signs. (Yes, the original speed zone was replaced, and now most people only zip past my house at 45-50 instead of the 60.) Those signs read “Welcome to World Famous Langlois“. Now that World Famous part is a bit of a misnomer, or so I thought at first. We used to be famous for blue cheese. Back in the early days of the community the cheese factory produced cheese that was marketed far and wide. Our market claims to have famous hot dogs, and yes, even five hours away in Portland, they know about the hot dogs. (Why don’t you come on down and try them.) That didn’t give us the right to claim to be world famous, though.

However, if people make up a community and our people begin doing world famous acts, then we can claim to be world famous. I would not want to live anywhere else because of the people! The school system is currently the best in the state. They have the highest test scores, the highest graduation rates, and highest rate of freshmen on track to graduate. The library has a wonderful collection of books and keeps interesting events happening throughout the year, from kids programs to an active book club, to giving opportunities to locals to share about themselves in Interesting Langlois. (I get to be the featured speaker on October 21.) The Spoon, the one and only restaurant in town, has Taco Tuesday nights and Game Day Sundays. The Postmistress personally knows everyone in town. She is friendly and greets them by name. The market is the place you go to to purchase your milk, eggs, bread, fresh veggies, local market produce, Costco orders, growlers, and your lunch at their deli, and to sit and chat with everyone along the way. (Here’s a glimpse of what it is like.) We also have several famous locations–Cape Blanco 7 miles south of town, the western most tip on the continental US and home to the BiMart Country Music Festival; and Floras Lake–just south of town has the some of the best wind surfing of all places. Take a look at both spots from a family who lives and plays at both.

It is here that I am astounded at the generosity of people. Upon walking into my library, I am shown where my books can be sold. Don’t worry about anything, just check in every so often to see how they are doing. Oh, and by the way, when are you going to share them with the community? That was all it took to be signed up for my spot on Interesting Langlois. I walked into the market to leave a flyer for my book signing and was greeted with exclamations of “Is it out yet? I didn’t know that! We’ll have to sell them here.” The flyer went on the front door for all to see it. The books, today were set right where everyone sees them while they wait for their sandwich order or while they wait to check out.

Yes, we don’t have a mall, a Wallmart, McDonald’s, or any other of those big city luxuries. What we do have are people who care about one another, who say hi and ask how are you and mean it, and who know each other by name. Sure, they grew up with each other, and probably are related to about half the community, but that just makes it a town worth living in. It’s a place to raise your kids and know they will be watched out for. You will get that call saying, “Did you know your son was doing 80 when he left the school?” It is a where I want to be. Come visit us some day and see what I mean.

What's your take?