Saturday, October 3, 2009

Attempting to Make the Midwest a Little Less Terrifying

As I've mentioned in this blog before, I get all kinds of responses when I tell people where I'm from. They range from off the wall to incredibly ignorant. I would then get upset and spend too much time and energy trying to correct their misconceptions. Eventually I grew tired of this and stopped. It turns out someone was listening...and that someone was someone I would have never expected.

One of my roommates is a native New Yorker. From the day we met, he declared the midwest to be "terrifying" and just "fly-over country". I continually tried to educate him on the midwest in general and Iowa in particular, but three years later it still hadn't seemed to matter. I assumed it was going in one ear and out the other.

But I was wrong. He came home from work the other day and proudly told me he had spent the afternoon telling his boss all about Iowa. What?!

Yes, it was true. They had just signed a new licensee from the Southeast corner of my state. His boss had the same typical reaction everyone does when they hear the word Iowa and, to my surprise, my roommate said he started telling him all I had shared with him in the past.

I guess someone was listening while I felt I was just talking to hear myself talk.

For anyone else who cares to listen:

Iowa is not flat:
"Despite popular perception, Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Prior[13] divides Iowa into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick.[14] In the northeast, along the Mississippi River, is a section of the Driftless Zone, which in Iowa consists of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous."

We do not all live on farms...and no one lives in a teepee:
"Iowa's population is more urban than rural, with 61 percent living in urban areas in 2000, a trend that began in the early 20th century.[45]"

"While Iowa is often viewed as a farming state, in reality agriculture is a small portion of a diversified economy, with manufacturing, biotechnology, finance and insurance services, and government services contributing substantially to Iowa's economy."

We do set some trends...the important ones:
"In the 19th century Iowa was among the earliest states to enact prohibitions against race discrimination, especially in education."

"As with racial equality, Iowa was a vanguard in women's rights in the mid 19th century.." "In 1847, the University of Iowa became the first public university in the U.S. to admit men and women on an equal basis.[92] In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law, with the Court ruling that women may not be denied the right to practice law in Iowa and admitting Arabella A. Mansfield to the practice of law."
(all facts came from the great roommates' most trusted source of knowledge.)

There's much more, but I'll stop now just in case no one is listening.


Andrea said...

Awesome job! My best friend has been living in Seattle for the past 5 years and has to deal with the same stuff. I might share that info with her or post it on my blog sometime as well (I'll let you know if I do)!

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! One thing I have always loved abut you is your ability to remain connected to different parts of your past AND your ability to show others why it matters.