Where should I live? Should I stay where I am? What is most important to me? People want to be content, happy, healthy, to live long and full lives with people they love. But what does it take to make that dream a reality? Many have studied this, and the results are not that complex. They are simple concepts, yet in practice seem be elusive to us. We want:
These are just a few factors that determine if someone will be content in the place they choose to live. You might be surprised that a good economy, or job opportunities are not on the list. Many people say one of the reasons they live where they live is because of their job or what opportunities it presents. But it isn't actually a factor in people staying long term in a location and claiming contentment in that place. The things they really need that can keep them happy and healthy is in the list above.
Here in McDowell County WV we don’t have boundless job opportunities, it isn't a financially great decision to move here for anyone, and the economy is pretty bad to say the least. However if you speak to most who have chosen to stay, and ask them why they did, they will tell you it's because of the people, the goodness and kindness that resides deep within them. They will tell you they love the beauty they find in the hills, winding roads, and bounty of wild rugged flora that resembles the fierce enduring character of those who reside here. Wild and Wonderful West Virginia Strong. They have found strong relationships, strong community, and strong roots that hold them steady.
Not every person here is happy, as nowhere on earth can promise that. But there is something special about this place, and just one visit leaves a lasting impression. To top it off, the cost of living is low, housing is inexpensive, and the effort of so many to build a better future here is inspiring.
Even so, the proverbial shadow of problems still lurking is something we all know too well. Drugs, declining health, short life expectancy, families in chaos, the list never seems to end. The population is still plummeting every year since coal was king, and we have lost another third of the residents since 2000. Without stopping the decline and instead encouraging population increase, we may actually be a county of ghost towns and wilderness in a couple decades.
On the bright side, we chose to be hopeful. Anyone who moves here is opposing the trend toward decline. It's true we are still one of the poorest counties in America. If a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link, we ask what would happen if we put in the work to make McDowell strong again in every area it is weakest? Could we restore this link and in turn, see America all the better for it? There are so many people here with huge hearts, care very deeply, and work hard every day to create lasting change. Now who wouldn’t like to be a part of that?