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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Letters

Distracted in Green River

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Right from the title -- "The outsiders: What are a bunch of hipsters doing in Green River, Utah?" -- Emily Guerin establishes that her article will be concerned not with issues, but with appearances. It is a shame. Issues of acceptance and identity -- persistent in small, economically downtrodden Western communities -- are real and important. But the way this article frames them does nothing to further this essential conversation. Instead, Guerin labels. Her "spacey blonde from Portland" is named Sarah Baugh. To call her a "hipster" and "do-gooder" says nothing. She is an engaged and engaging woman who creates work that explores the ties between place and civic and cultural identity. Guerin seems not to have talked to her about any of this.

I'm curious why Guerin, coming from Maine and visiting Green River for a few days, is so sure about what the town needs, and who belongs and who doesn't? Why didn't the article bother to ask this question of the residents and officials of the town itself?

What does Green River need more? Young people (or "hipsters," as far as I understand the article's use of the term) trying to work in the interest of its community life and future, or articles in HCN discussing the ways in which these people "don't belong"? The article could have asked serious questions about the economic and cultural future of the rural West. For better or worse, these questions are being asked somewhere else -- at the Epicenter (the nonprofit social services and design center described in the story).

Charlie Macquarie
Carson City, Nevada

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