Not so fast Bill Murray!


Enjoying a lunch with my best friend yesterday afternoon, I learned that none other than Bill Murray of SNL fame, stated in a recent interview that all he wanted to do now was, “move to McMinnville, Oregon and live out his life.”

Being my hometown, I know the appeal of a rural, medium-sized town to wealthy Californians. Selling their Orange County house for $3.5 million, the first thing they insist on doing is building a mansion of comparable size for $700,000 on former farmland. Interspersed among the remaining corn and wheat fields, they have also brought a new flush of gourmet restaurants to our downtown the past decade. From an L.A. perspective, the lines and traffic jams are minimal, and prices for gourmet meals appear solidly mid-range.  With such appeal, Goldie Hawn bought a place on the edge of town among the wavy hilled vineyards while Robin Williams picked the area to secretly attend rehab for his drug addiction. The only problem? As California flees traffic jams and overstuffed restaurants, it drags along urban social values that change the positive dynamic of a healthy small town community. Populating a place we loved on vacation creates exactly the opposite effect of what attracted us there in the first place.

When I was an elementary student in McMinnville, I walked six blocks to school each morning without worry. We played baseball and football in the street, rode bicycles across town, and felt comfortable trick or treating at every house in town. It was a good life, and I can’t blame folks who visit wanting to have their piece of that life in retirement. But recognize the impact your actions will have on others if you truly wish to live justly. Moving blindly into a community because you can, doesn’t always represent a higher state of good.

I recently saw a first in my hometown; a car placed on a boulder with windows bashed in and partially stripped (pictured). Down the street, a man lay passed out in the shrubs with an empty bottle surrounded by all of his possessions. Nearby, on the farm I worked on as a teen, presently converted to a nature preserve, I’ve witnessed gang members hiding bats in the deep fall leaves to prepare for a territorial battle yards from an elk and beaver den.

The downtown, so open and friendly in the past, now holds exclusive uber rich transplants posing as dressed down middle class residents. They are only betrayed by the $500 patent leather shoes they still insist on wearing. Apparently, it is much harder to abandon status symbols of wealth than they think. The gap in haves versus have nots has never been wider. McMinnville, so egalitarian in the 1960’s, now is lucky have a regular family living in one of the lovely original Victorian era homes. They have become either law offices, realtor offices, or celebrity homes. A late night trip to Walmart has become hazardous. Out of the darkness, people emerge from the crammed parking lot looking like a casting call for the Walking Dead. Palid, unshaven meth heads inhabit dark corners, while Bible thumpers desperately search for the unwary to fill the pews of their declining ranks. Does this represent the good life?

So Bill, before you enjoy the benefits of sipping wine amidst the beautiful views of Willamette Valley vineyards along with a mudbath and sauna at the spa, I suggest you take a closer look at living in Disneyland while the majority can only afford to look between the black bars. To maintain solid, livable communities we must start thinking how our actions impact everyone. To create an exclusive culture that only allows access by only a fraction of the population is unjust and wrong. Someday a counter reaction will take place, penetrating even the highest gated community.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Erin Stilman
    Nov 04, 2017 @ 03:03:15

    One of the best writings I have read by you! Don’t let these city slickers pave paradise and put up a parking lot in your quaint neighborhood!


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