Students sometimes come to us in crisis, but always they come from a world filled with challenges and are with us only for a season. We could do far worse as professors than to model our approach to education and guidance on Dante’s Virgil and walk with our students until another valley opens to them.
If boarding school stories are exceptionally good at communicating certain universal themes despite the privileged setting, the lasting appeal of the setting offers some lessons, as well. The older we get, the more it is tempting to act as though the challenges faced by young people are somehow not serious. They are. They are serious even if those challenges are not new.
University presses are remarkable allies in the cause of localism. Though they publish all kinds of academic books, you’ll struggle to find a state university press that does not publish books centered on their region and their local history. It is central to their mission. Strictly academic works are certainly part of university press catalogues, but too many people have forgotten about the many other kinds of books that university presses publish.
County Highway is not county-specific. It’s for all of America outside major cities. Well, outside of New York and Los Angeles, for sure. In the second issue, there’s a piece about unions in Las Vegas. Another “outsider” voice comes from Miami, though he travels to Puerto Rico. It’s “the rest of America,” but it’s not necessarily rural America, despite the squirrel recipe.
Daytripper reminds people that you don’t have to go far to see something new. Even small towns have a special local food or watering hole. Every place has history. And it’s fun to swim in a new lake. It’s good to kayak a new river or hike a new hill. Wherever you are, your own state has plenty to see.
There are things that a full room can do for us. It can reassure us. It can offer comfort. It can offer luxury and pleasant distractions. A full room can be cozy and a crowded refrigerator reassuring. A room can be full of company. We can be and feel less alone. A full room can teach us to share.
The value in seeing payphones is the way it develops a practice of seeing. So often we are driving or walking down streets, unaware of what serves us no purpose or where we aren’t heading. Looking for things forces you to notice things. Sometimes it will cause you to turn around and drive back to some spot you never would have seen if you weren’t watching so closely.
Places shape us and provide the contours of our communities. And despite the grittier dramas, the grip that a place has on us is not always all about past crimes and complicated emotions. Sometimes even a place we can’t seem to “escape” can be a source of pleasure or comfort in some ways.
We do not need crusades for or against “wokeness”—we need people to read actual legislation and weigh in on it. We do not need centralized authorities to make sweeping, political decisions about classrooms and curriculum. We need engaged communities and parents and subject matter experts.
eading Cheap Land Colorado makes you wonder how we can make more space for human flourishing among the poor and on the edges of society? Conover’s approach to the San Luis Valley might offer us a starting point.