Moving Nearer to Heaven: The Illusions and Disillusions of Migrants to Scenic Rural Places

Moving Nearer to Heaven: The Illusions and Disillusions of Migrants to Scenic Rural Places

Moving Nearer to Heaven: The Illusions and Disillusions of Migrants to Scenic Rural Places

Moving Nearer to Heaven: The Illusions and Disillusions of Migrants to Scenic Rural Places

Synopsis

While the dream of moving to a small town in a beautiful rural area is common among many Americans, that dream often turns into a nightmare for those who decide to follow it. More than half of the people who move to small towns in recreational places will move away in less than five years, and their rapid successive moves are often marked by anger and frustration as they encounter the realities of poor job possibilities, an impersonal life, and a deteriorating natural environment. Jobes describes the experiences of newcomers, and oldtimers, to Bozeman, Montana, a small Rocky Mountain town Jobes has observed and researched since the early 1970s. Through interviews and observations, Jobes has found that newcomers arrive with unrealistic illusions about life in a small town and that life in such places is simultaneously complex and dynamic.

Excerpt

This book is based on information that was initiated as quasiexperimental field research. in the end, it more resembles a naturalist observation of an ecosystem. We enjoyed good fortune from many people and institutions who contributed to the effort in various ways. Fortunately, I do remember the names of some of the people involved. the following acknowledgments are organized from the beginning of the project and data collection, through the analyses and to manuscript preparation.

The data were collected in phases. Students in two of my classes in Human Ecology at Montana State University acted as interviewers during the initial stages. a few dedicated professional interviewers collected information in the later stages. My colleague, Anne Williams, worked alongside us during the early 1980s. the data were analyzed throughout the entire project by a friend and colleague, Lee Faulkner, sometimes with the advice of Jack Gilchrist. Data analysis was complex and tedious, especially during the final analyses that required the careful merging of different data sets. Lee remained cheerful and helpful as she flawlessly kneaded the data sets for over 20 years. Equally important and dedicated has been Diane Fuhrman, who has typed the manuscripts related to this project since the 1970s. Even as I have learned to word process and have traveled to far corners of the Earth, I have always turned to Diane to prepare the next serious draft.

Several colleagues have also provided academic insight, advice, and camaraderie. Leslie B. Davis edited an early manuscript and final version. Ed Marston, editor of the High Country News, offered encouragement and suggestions. Fellow members of research committees investigating rural migration were especially supportive and encouraging. Bill Stinner, Mike Toney, Jack Gilchrist, Ed Knop, Annabel Kirschner-Cook and Audie Blevins could all be depended upon to positively criticize the research. the most important colleague, the man who encouraged us to work together, was John Wardwell, who unfailingly supported all of us until his death in 1998.

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