Although I’m a lifelong resident of Nevada, my time in rural Nevada has been minimal. Growing up, my family never had money for family vacations or even day outings so we stuck pretty close to home. My knowledge of the rural counties widened considerably last year when I helped out on a rural candidate’s campaign. Because of that experience, I learned about a whole different side of Nevada than the one I learned about in history books.
Most of my experiences were great. Rural folk are tough, solid, centered, and hard workers. They call a spade a spade and a jackal a jackal. They’ll tell you full out what they think of you and your ideas and just about anything else they want to, too. They’re fiercely independent, proud people who love the sense of community that comes from living in a small town and the solitude that comes from living on wide open land.
But it wasn’t all rosy. There were some tough lessons to learn and I got beat up pretty good a couple of times in the process. Things get done differently in the rurals and no matter how well-intentioned or naïve you might be about something, you won’t ever be forgiven for crossing that line, even if you never saw the line or knew that it existed.
The things that are important to rural folk are different than for those in the big cities. Rural Nevada is the very heart of our farming, agricultural, dairy, mining, alternative energy, sporting, and hunting interests. Water is a crucial concern for them. So are property taxes, second amendment rights and the eternal question/issues of expansion. Rural folks love their communities and are fiercely protective of them.
As it should be.
Rural folk have allergies to big city life: Can’t get near one without feeling all closed in and squeezed and needing to get back home as quickly as possible. But just because they don’t want to live in a big city doesn’t mean they don’t want the respect and acknowledgement from the rest of us for their contributions to the state.
The rural community’s concerns don’t often make it to the top of the Legislature’s concerns. Consequently, there is some bitterness there. Lots of rural folk feel repeatedly marginalized. They don’t feel like they’re heard or valued.
So this one’s for the rurals. It’s for the men and women who know the value of a hard day’s work on the land. It’s for those who’ve been up since 4:00 a.m. to feed the chickens and still head out to the town board meeting at 7:00 p.m. later that night. It’s for the kids who leave home for university but come back after graduation to work in their community. It’s for the ones who stand up at board meetings, town halls and legislative bodies to say what’s on their minds. It’s for the land you till and the resources you manage. It’s for the rosy blush on your cheek and the twinkle in your eye. It’s for being the heart and soul of Nevada.
The rurals must always deal with the competition of louder voices from the more populated areas.
I can’t fix the legislative stuff and I don’t have a permanent solution – but I know that we wouldn’t be who we are without you.
It's not about the me. It's about the we.