My Opinion

Thursday, September 1, 2005

How to keep Iowa youth here

It's no secret that Iowa has a brain drain with most graduates from the Regent Universities going out of state for jobs. What is happening, of course, is that Iowans are subsidizing the expertise that will be tapped by other states. It really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

There should really be a concomitant endeavor to find a way to keep young Iowans in the state. Whether it's employment, recreation, or cultural opportunities, it's absolutely essential to try to keep as many Iowa college graduates here as we can.

Unfortunately, you can't manacle them and treat them as slaves. We've outgrown that...sort of. Rather, it's important to find those cultural embellishments that make people want to stay around.

There was a very interesting comment by one of the folks at the Iowa State Historical Society retreat held here last week. It was that people who teach local history to their young have a lot better chance of keeping them around. That makes a lot of sense.

If you know what and where your roots are, you will have some appreciation for the sense of place that makes you who you are. Sense of place, or rootedness, helps us appreciate what our parents and grandparents experienced.

You don't have to be an old fogey to appreciate sense of place. A good example would be the folks in the Linn Grove and Peterson area. There are some folks there who are pretty much on top of trends and what's going on in the world who also have a deep appreciation for local history and what that legacy means to them.

A couple that really comes to mind is Beth and Steve Cathcart. They are artists of the first order, and their work could be shown in any gallery anywhere. They have chosen, though, to live and work on Beth's ancestral farm which is about as close to a mountaintop retreat as you can get in Iowa.

History runs deep through the Cathcarts' veins. Ask Beth something, just anything, about area history and she'll be able to give you an answer.

In a sense, the Cathcart's sense of history and art are intertwined. Look at one and you're looking at the other.

The same applies for a lot of other folks in Buena Vista County. Some folks have found that foundation upon which their values and reality rests. It's not that they don't question things. It's as though they have something they can always count on, something they can always go back to. Some people work like bloody dogs, accumulating wealth so they can pay therapists to tell them why they are unfulfilled. Others stay along the river, like Siddhartha and Govinda, and see all that life has to offer.

It's really an enviable thing to have.

* Mike Tidemann is the Pilot-Tribune's assistant editor. He can be reached at mtidemann@stormlakepilottribune.com